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Disasters Averted

Disasters Averted are stories submitted by our readers and medical editors from direct experience in the field. Do you have a story? If your story is used, we will send you a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Submissions can be anonymous.

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Samples Are Not the Answer

adding an sglt2 inhibitor to insulin

A woman, 72 years of age was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She has a Medicare plan. I don’t know her financial situation but do know she gets Social Security and has other retirement income. Her A1C was rising. We had recommended and taught lifestyle changes which she had difficulty with; she made some changes but not enough to lower her glucose. We added metformin which she did not tolerate, so we discussed one of the SGLT-2s. After hesitating, she agreed to trying one. We gave her samples, she took them. Her A1C lowered to the goal we mutually decided upon.

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How Do You Talk with Your Patients?

As noted in our Editor's Letter, David Joffe discusses the importance of how we talk with patients. And to that I'll add...how or if we listen to our patients. David's letter made me think about what we say to patients when they are at risk, when they are diagnosed, and during the treatment phase. If we keep current with our knowledge of diseases — in this case, diabetes — and share what we know today but be clear that we may learn more and differently in the future, the patient may be more open to accept changes and work toward their health goals while at the same time taking into consideration what is known and currently available.

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CGM Simplicity Can Be Complex Information for Beginners

Woman, 55 years of age visited with me 3 weeks ago. Her glucose levels were in the 200-250 mg/dL range. She was actually a new patient of ours; her A1C was 9.2%. We recommended a CGM. She purchased one and brought it to the office for me to teach her how to use it. I did so. This patient is well-educated and seemed tech-savvy. When she left the visit, she "seemed" to understand CGM, what it is, what to do, and how to insert the sensor, get readings, interpret readings, etc.

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Try Living Like Your Patients

When I was studying to become a CDE, the students in our class who did not have diabetes were given the assignment to live as though we did have insulin-requiring diabetes for a period of time. It was very helpful. At that time, we did not have continuous glucose monitors (CGM), but we did have insulin, vials and syringes (not sure about the pens but I don’t recall those), glucose monitors, and other supplies. We gave ourselves normal saline as if it were insulin, checked our glucose at least four times/day, carb counted, and everything else required to manage our "diabetes" daily. One incident that stands out to me was a friend faking having a hypoglycemia event while waiting for her food at a restaurant. It was quite an eye-opening period of time for all of us.

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Warn, Teach, and Revisit Metformin

If this happens in my practice, I’m sure it likely happens with your patients too. So many of our patients take metformin. They may be new to using metformin or have been taking it for many years. Either way it’s not unusual to have untoward GI side effects from taking it. They may have done fine taking it for years, so they don’t even think about it being their metformin.

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What Can Happen When Patients Take Diabetes Holidays

Man, 36 years of age, type 2 diabetes, obesity class II, fatty liver, was taking metformin 1,000mg twice daily, and lower dose of SGLT-2. A1C was elevated 9% due to steroids; had been in the 6-7% range. Came in for 3-month follow up — A1C 9.9%, glucose 359, urine positive for glucose and for ketones, gained 19 pounds since last office visit, B/P 126/78-HR 78 and regular. The patient reports he took a "holiday" from everything during the holidays. He ate and drank anything and everything he wanted, including alcohol, and stopped his medications. He complained of  increased hunger and thirst. Very thirsty.

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Confusing Insulins Still A Common Mistake

I have a patient who has type 2 diabetes. He was started on long-acting insulin 8 months ago. Before adding the insulin, he was taking a daily GLP-1. He had experienced diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) while on a SGLT-2, and did not tolerate metformin due to GI side effects. Therefore, these …

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Talk About Leftovers!

As we know, the holidays are very tough for many of our patients who have diabetes and/or obesity. They may have made some changes -- big changes -- in their eating habits, only to get in trouble over the long holiday season, then have a very difficult time getting back on track. The long holiday season can be a disaster to their health. I have found that for most, having leftovers at home wreaks havoc.

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PCOS: Motivate Young Women to Make Changes

Young woman, 15 years of age, presented with class II obesity (BMI 37), irregular periods, hirsutism, and continuing to gain weight. Her first visit was with her mother. We met and discussed the possibility of her having polycystic ovarian syndrome because of her symptoms. We confirmed with labs.

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Culture: Think About It

Man, 32 years of age, of Asian Indian descent, family history of type 2 diabetes, BMI-28,  blood pressure 142/84, WC-92cm visited for annual physical. Although the patient has not at this time been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the numbers and history were revealing that he is at increased risk. Not just because of his family history but also his BMI and WC. We discussed the importance of this person’s weight with him. In discussing this, we talked about making some changes in his meal plan and increasing his activity.

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