Diabetes Plague?

In keeping up with my interest in the NY City Department of Health’s policy for diabetes survelliance and evaluation for diabetes patients diagnosed and seeking medical care in all the NYC Boroughs, I saw this editorial tonight and thought I would post it. (The original article I posted was on 20 December 2005.) The author of the editorial, Dr. Gerald Bernstein appears to be dedicated to the care of many patients with T2 diabetes and with one quick review of his biography, we can easily comprehend how deep his commitment to diabetes research and furthering diabetes advances in mainstream healthcare. Is his concordance with NYC DoH a reflection of his frustration in dealing with so many poorly cared patients?

Dr. Bernstein even compares diabetes to the plague…seems very extreme, but is it? In modern terminology the word plague is used to describe any epidemic disease with a high death rate which is usually also highly infectious. The Plague specifically refers to the bubonic plague, a disease carried by rats and spread by¬†fleas which killed a third of all humans in medieval Europe.

I think his tone is a bird’s eye view into what it must be like for a diabetologist or an endocrinologist in the US – and what he sees everyday. I know that just sitting in any diabetes clinic for one hour is like being in a war zone with bandaged (sometimes bleeding) legs, immobile people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s …, bandaged eyes, people without limbs and finally, tears and frustration. I see the eyes of these patients looking at me – a relatively young woman who looks healthy. Their eyes look right through me begging for understanding and solutions. I am not being dramatic…the emotions are palpable. The faces of diabetes are (often) heart-breaking.

I return home from my quarterly appointment feeling raw from seeing so much pain and suffering for a disease that strikes so quietly yet so insidiously with many serious and horrendous complications! What will be the result of all this media attention? Will all diabetes patients finally have the opportunity to receive the education and care they require?