Earlier this year, my sister and I celebrated her youngest daughter’s third birthday. My niece enjoyed many of her gifts, but the one she was most excited about was a smartphone. Even though she has to share it with her three older siblings, they are rarely willing to fight her for it since she’ll just kick and scream. After her siblings give up trying for a turn, she immediately quiets, a blank expression basking in the blue light of Youtube. Her siblings turn to other devices: iPads from school, the home desktop computer that now seems ancient, or maybe just their mom’s smartphone. They’ll usually use these while also watching television.
Visiting the doctor can be confusing, scary and just one more thing to put on your already busy schedule. For those in our community suffering from chronic conditions and/or mental illness managing appointments and understanding care instructions is even more challenging.
My first encounters with patients with diabetes were in a hospital setting in the final two years of medical school. I remember witnessing the complications of diabetes: patients suffered heart attacks or strokes, others required dialysis after kidney failure, still others had chronic numbness or pain caused by the effect of high blood sugar on the nerves in their legs.
Poor Physical Health Outcomes in the Mentally Ill, and How to Help
Moving to the West Seventh neighborhood of Saint Paul last spring, my husband and I were thrilled to see a community of people who care- about each other, about their health, about their tiny libraries, and about the festival of the day. We saw artist’s lofts, thriving local businesses, friendships between diverse peoples, and green spaces everywhere- from community centers to parks to gardens. We saw Day by Day Café and Fresh Grounds Coffee, which not only serve delicious food and coffee, but also offer gainful employment to people recovering from addiction.