Part of my role working as a registered nurse for the Wiimali Aboriginal Medical Service is to provide support and counselling for people suffering chronic illnesses. We also have a program of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for people wanting to give up smokes.
Two weeks ago Bonnie dropped by; she didn’t have an appointment but we allow for drop-ins as many of our clients find it more welcoming to “come when they can”. I have known Bonnie for several years. She is in her late fifties and has five grown boys and many more grandkids. She has diabetes (type 2) as well as some cardiac issues; she had a cardiac stent procedure last year. She dropped by that day on her way home from the Diabetic Educator and was anxious and upset about something. Over a cup of tea and half hour yarning about her beloved boys and grandkids, we came to the problem she was having.
She had been to the Diabetic Educator because she was now on insulin as she had poorly controlled blood sugars with oral medications. It was not the giving of insulin and measuring of blood sugars that was her issue; she could do this well and understood the explanation given. It was the diet sheet she was given with recommended foods. She was too “shame” to tell the Diabetic Educator that not only would she have trouble affording the foods on the list, but she couldn’t read enough to understand what foods to eat when. Bonnie also smoked a pack a day. We had joked in the past about the fact that she was no “quitter!”
The literacy problem was easy to solve with making a pictorial version of the recommended diet. We sat and drew them together and Bonnie took home several photocopies for the kids to colour in so the family could be part of the meal planning. The money issue was a bit more tricky, and required more talk but the long and the short of it was doing the math and realising that Bonnie could no longer afford to smoke.
Bonnie went away to think about it some more and came back today with a beautifully coloured poster of her diet plan that we laminated and hung in the office. Then we sat and yarned more about how she was eating and how the family was until Bonnie quietly said she wanted to stop smoking, not only for the money but for her health. She wants to be around for the kids … we started the NRT today.
Story by Eleanor