Tools and Encouragement to Manage Diabetes

In addition to providing skilled medical care, VNSNY staff work to establish relationships with their patients. Nurse Huda S. remembers Carlos, a patient with diabetes.

“Carlos had been through a lot prior to coming to me. He’d had a kidney transplant and recurring problems related to his diabetes. I was sent to help Carlos get his blood sugars under control.” Part of the problem was that Carlos felt misunderstood by his medical team, which lead to an antagonistic relationship. “He felt he was controlling his disease, and was very guarded about being told he wasn’t.”

When VNSNY became part of his care team, Huda worked to earn his trust, and in turn to demonstrate to his doctors that their patient was doing his best.

“I started by having him keep a daily log of everything he put in his mouth. He can barely write, so his daughter called him every day and wrote the log. At each visit, I did two things: I made one change to his diet, and I emphasized how well he was doing. I also relayed to his doctors his earnestness and his hard work,” says Huda. Along the way, Carlos became more relaxed with the process. Eventually he came to completely understand the diabetic diet and was able to totally control his sugars.

Rosanne, Carlos’s daughter, wrote to Huda to say, “As you know, my father has been through many challenges with his health. Although his difficulty in communication and understanding has contributed to some of his problems, he is a good and very loved man and as such you have treated him. You have been nonjudgmental, authentic, and patient. On behalf of my father and my family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

“Carlos needed his medical team to acknowledge that his health issues were not his fault,” Huda states, “and to recognize that he cared about his health and was trying very hard to manage it. He just needed more tools and encouragement.”

* The names of the patient and his daughter have been changed for privacy.