Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Diabetes now a Major Health Issue

Last year we became acutely aware that Diabetes had become a major health issue for the Mayan Indigenous of Guatemala. That this chronic illness was completely ignored by the Ministry of Health was of deep concern for us. Most of the new diabetic patients have type 2 Diabetes. These patients are more easily managed with oral medication and diet. We have initiaed a Diabetic Club at the Clinica Maxeña which meets monthly. We have excellent support for classes from the Nutriitionist of Pastoral Health of the Diocese.

We are more concerned with two young patients who are coping with type 1 Diabetes.
Lorenzo is 26 years old and a teacher; he is a graduate of our parish highschool, Asuncion. Two weeks ago he came to the clinic in acute distress. He had difficult breathing, fatigue, profound anemia and malnourished. He related that he was advised in January by a auxiliary nurse in a Pharmacy that he had diabetes and he sold him oral medication for one month but gave him no medical advice or information. Since he felt a little better and for economic reasons he did not persue more advice or treatment. Unfortunately he has complications from the disease from lack of immediate treatment. His vision is damaged and more diagnostic tests have to be performed. He stayed as an in patient in our clinic for one week. His pneumonia was treated, lab tests performed, and he was started on insulin. Within the week he was smiling and feeling much better. His severe vision complication will need the intervention of an opthamologist. He was fortunate to have a younger brother who was willing to donate a unit of blood for his severe anemia. He was committed to come to the Diabetic Club.He is married and has one child. Fortunately his wife is literate and can assist him in reading the insulin syringe and supervise his injections twice daily. Lorenzo had just obtained a teaching position before he fell ill. He has sent a relative to cover his classes to not lose this important opportunity of employment. We are aware that even though he has a professional position, for now he is unemployed, and will need economic assistance from the Clinica Maxeña. Insulin costs approximately $35. a month for insulin, syringes, and glucose checks. $60. would purchase a glucometer for an insulin dependent diabetic. Lorenzo was able to see DVDs of previous classes by the nutritionist and will assist for the first time the Diabetic Club this week.

Our other young patient with insulin dependent diabetes is more a challenge. She is 16 years old, with only third grade primary education. Unfortunately home environment is not ideal with her father being unemployed and alcoholic. She is also malnourished and does not accept the reality of her diabetes. She also was an inpatient this past week with crisis of hypoglycemia and unstable glucoses. She comes to most meetings of the diabetic club with her mother.

November 14 has been named by the United Nations as WORLD DAY OF DIABETES. The Theme chosen is Know your Diabetes and Take Charge. We at the Clinic will continue to help our patients learn how to control their diabetes and to understand this illness. Thank You for Your support to make this possible.