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Monday, November 12, 2012

"Diabetic" for the Day

Hi!  I’m Jenny, and I am a P1 student.  First off, let me tell you how much I LOVE Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy.  The faculty are the best I have ever seen, the facilities are up to date and beautiful and the people are super friendly.  Now that I have gotten my plug in for the best pharmacy school (really!), I will delve into the topic that I would like to share today.

We have two labs that we take our first semester P1 year.  One is a community lab and one is a biotech lab, and today I want to talk to you about one of my experiences in our biotech lab.  For this particular lab, our instructor said that we needed some volunteers.  Being the science nerd that I am, I immediately raised my hand and my name was written on the board.  I wasn’t really sure what I was signing up for, so after lab the group of us (4 students in all) met with our professor to discuss our mission.  Basically we were going to be “diabetics” for two days, and each subgroup had different roles.  One group of two students were supposed to drink a sugary beverage (like coke) early in the morning and then take their glucose levels with a glucometer.  The next subgroup (and the one that I was in) had a slightly different task - one night we had to  eat a meal, measure our blood glucose levels  15 minutes later, and then an hour later (of being sedentary) we had to check it again.  The second night we were to take our glucose level and then go exercise for an hour, and then come back and measure the glucose level again.

Easy, right?  Well, first off, I have no diabetics in my immediate family, and I have never been a big one to inflict unnecessary pain on myself.  With this assignment, I was going to be sticking myself with a needle four times in order to get a droplet of blood to check my glucose levels.  Luckily, my friend Monica, another P1 student, taught me how to do all of these things because her dad is a diabetic.  So, off I go to take my glucose for the first time, and it went better than I expected.  Then, I took it again after eating (a carbohydrate rich pasta) and was SHOCKED at how high my levels were!  I was completely convinced that I had at least pre-diabetes.  After my sedentary hour (of studying, might I add) I took my levels again, and they had decreased slightly, but were still pretty high.

The next night, my dad and I went jogging / walking for an hour after I took my initial blood glucose reading, and I was amazed at how much lower it dropped than when I was just sedentary.  Exercise definitely does make a difference in the treatment of diabetes!  This was a great learning experience for me in several ways - one, I learned how to actually use a glucose meter and would feel comfortable counseling my patients on how to take their blood glucose levels now.  Two, I really saw how much of a difference diet and exercise made on myself, which I can in turn use as an example to encourage my patients, especially those with diabetes who could see drastic results.  Finally, I am much more empathetic to what it is like to be a diabetic - it was not easy to prick myself with that needle those four times, and that was only for a period of two days!  I feel much more prepared to be a good pharmacist after this exercise, and I love that PC provides its students with these hands-on learning opportunities that will really stick with us in the long term.  Thanks for reading!

Side note: For all those that were wondering, I did not really have diabetes - false alarm.  However, I am more mindful now of how many carbohydrates I put together in one meal - that pasta will definitely get you :) 

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