Diabetes Boot Camp…Revisited



In March of 2009, I pondered the idea of a diabetes “boot camp”.  I had mentioned the idea in previous posts as an option for a non-compliant teen but began to think about it in a bit more of a serious tone at that point. I wondered if one could truly create a place for learning that was not a supportive atmosphere but a place for tough love?

So many people think of diabetes as not that big of a deal.  We often hear of teens who just can’t be bothered.  There are people with Type 2 who do not take the disease seriously and there are the adults with Type 1 who are just burnt out and can’t get up the energy to fuss any more. Could I create something to help these people had been my question. 

Over the years, this remains my most popular post.  Comments are still coming in and my mind is still wondering, thinking and inquiring.  As some of you know, I am a big supporter of the CWD Friends for Life Conferences.  I am on staff at the Canadian conferences and tell anyone and everyone that they should go to a conference. They are vital to many but there are a few who arrive desperate for their child to “get it”.  They hope that the interactions will be the magic pill that they need for their child to focus and take care of themselves.  I wondered if a more harsh approach would be best.

These teens often shrug their shoulders and skip vital sessions. They are not interested in making new friends and block out attempts to get through to them. Would a harsh approach work? What would a harsh approach look like? How could you get results like “Beyond Scared Straight” but for a disease?

What about type 2s? How do you get to them? I think that in some respects they would be easier than teens and in others they would be a lot harder to reach.  Someone suggested learning sessions with or without your partner.  I think that would be helpful. Adults know that they are going to die.  They can be shown that they are putting themselves on the fast track by pretending that they do not have a serious illness.

That leaves adults with Type 1.  They know the drill. They may even know what to do but they need a kick.  They are living with depression or burnout and they need help.  A butt kicking approach could be successful but with a lot of support thrown in once they decide to move forward.

Diabetes boot camps do exist. I have seen a few posted that are directed at primary care providers.  There were even one for people living with diabetes but I did not see anything along the lines of what is in my head.  What is that? Well its a very fragmented idea at the moment. I see three very different needs.  I see the need for specialized experts who are also very caring individuals.  I see the need for sponsors to be involved and the support of diabetes organizations. I see exercise as being important but so are many other areas. I see intensity and education balanced with compassion and understanding.

I invite you to re-read the old Boot Camp post.  I also would love to hear what you think on the subject.  What would you want to see? Do you know people that could use this approach?  Could it be virtual or should it be only a physical location(s)? What problems or benefits do you see? Leave a comment or email me.  I would love to hear from you as I seriously begin to revisit this concept in 2012.

4 thoughts on “Diabetes Boot Camp…Revisited”

  1. hi barb. i just read your Boot Camp post, and commented on that page. i guess i should have posted my comment here. anyway, i believe you have a valid point and a great idea. i would love to somehow be involved with the creation of a “boot camp”. you can contact me through my blog or my email.

  2. I think a “Boot Camp” that is positive and takes a coaching approch is a good idea. Teens/young people need people that can inspire them to do better. The other model, which I assume is more confrontational, kind of like the TV series “Intervention” works but only when the person is removed to a long-term care facility for months on end. There is a TV series called “Wildspring Academy” where they take extremely overweight obese teens and offer them full dietary, exercise trainers, emotional and psychological support within a boarding school setting. I think this could work. But they are removing the person who needs intervention from their environment and watching them 24/7 to see they don’t lapse into prior behavior. To do this on the outside without psychological help, I don’t think would work. Key seems to be removing the person from their own behavioral control and training to institute new behaviors. A “boot camp” for less serious cases, for people who want to help themselves, yes, that would work.

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