Want to know what diabetes is like?

Judy Devorak

Olmsted Medical Center got such a good employee response to its first diabetes simulation that it has expanded the program and opened it to friends, co-workers and loved ones of area diabetics.

The simulation helps people without diabetes get a sense of what managing the disease is really like.

Participants must record how many carbohydrates they eat — every time they eat — for a week. They also note exercise, check blood sugar by pricking a finger four times a day and give themselves injections of fake insulin.

"I just really can feel for the people who have diabetes," said Judy Devorak, a nurse practitioner at OMC. Many of her patients have Type 1 diabetes, the kind typically diagnosed during childhood, or Type 2 diabetes, the type most get as adults.

People with diabetes must keep track of so many tasks, log so much information and pamper so many health-related issues that it can be tough to extricate diabetes from the act of living.


"One of the things that really hit home was how it just doesn't go away," Devorak said. "It's there all the time."

OMC employees who volunteer for the simulation, and now members of the general community, are secure in the knowledge that after a week they can go back to their normal lives.

But people with diabetes can never stop paying attention to a multitude of diabetes-related expectations, Devorak said.

"If you're really diabetic, this is something that's there, day-in and day-out, for the rest of your life," she said.

Endocrinologist Dr. Kalpana Muthusamy said it can be difficult for health providers and loved ones alike to understand why diabetes is difficult to keep under control.

Muthusamy began the OMC course because she took one during her educational experience at Mayo Clinic.

"I totally saw a different perspective of things. … I think it just opens up a whole new aspect of understanding your diabetic patients," she said.

OMC now plans to offer the weeklong experience to members of the community every three months.


November sessions will be the third time at OMC and the first open to the general population.

Dr. Kalpana Muthusamy

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