I’ve enjoyed lots of perks being in the public health system. Namely, its cost me next to nothing, and I have had access to all of the services I need through my hospital outpatient clinic (podiatry, optometry, etc.). But one of the downsides to being in the public health system is that you don’t really get to see the same doctor every time. So you don’t really get to build that relationship, that trust, or that level of comfort that allows you to talk openly to that person. There’s also a long patient list, so there’s often a long time inbetween appointments.
I remember one of my endocrinologist appointments. I’m pretty sure it was in the first year of my diagnosis. I got my hba1c and other bloodwork done before I went in to see the doctor. I think the hba1c was somewhere in the high 7s if I remember correctly. I showed the doctor my book where I had written all of my blood sugar levels. I was newly diagnosed. There were lots of 10s, 12s and even 15s. There weren’t a lot of 5s 6s and 7s. And all that doctor could say to me as he was flipping through that book was that I had very poor control of my blood sugars.
No words of encouragement. No understanding. No support. I don’t even think he understood exactly what it was like to be a diabetic. Or what I was going through. And then he even had the nerve to start scaring me with words about diabetes complications if I didn’t get those numbers down.
I was so disappointed. Here I was, having conquered my first few months in a strange new land and yet all he could do was shoot me down. I was feeling disheartened and guilty as I walked out of that room. And my wonderful diabetes educator could see the look on my face, and asked me what was wrong. She did her best to give supportive comments and words of encouragement. She even offered to go in there and say something to that man, which I politely refused. She knew that I hadn’t been at it long. She knew that I was trying my hardest. And she clearly knew what it was like to be a diabetic (and she did not have diabetes herself).
If that doctor knew me better, if I was his regular patient, this probably wouldn’t of happened. But that’s the reality of the public health system. Its a revolving door of doctors catering to a long, long patient list. And that’s okay. But with a little more understanding and a little less judgement, we both could have gotten a lot more out of the appointment that day. If that doctor had taken a few more minutes to look at my background and get to know me, this probably wouldn’t have happened. If he had made me feel a little more comfortable, I probably would have been able to elaborate more openly about my diabetes. And he would have been able to give me better, more personalised support and encouragement.
This post isn’t a way of attcking diabetes professionals. Because I’ve also had many outstanding experiences with diabetes professionals who have gone above and beyond to help me. Encourage me. Support me. Make themselves available to me inbetween appointments. Understand me. Namely, my diabetes educator. But its also important to raise awareness that we don’t get the positive experiences, understanting and encouragement that we, as diabetics, deserve. Nobody should have to go through what I went through that day. And that’s the one diabetes thing I would like to see change.
I’ve written this post as a participant in Diabetes Blog Week 2015. Follow #dBlogWeek on Twitter for the latest updates from the event and participants.
U words read like the beginning of my life with T1D. Its all good telling us about complications if we don’t handle it properly but how about showing us how to control it. That support was missing for me too and most likely a lot of other people, I have learnt more from experimenting and other T1Ds than I have the medical profession. Thanks for the read Frank.
This post worries me about coming back to the UK! I haven’t really thought too much about the way diabetes is dealt with over there, here I’m so lucky – even though I’m not a resident I get to see my diabetes nurse for free whenever she’s in town (she’s here every 1/2 weeks), and she’ll always write me a script for whatever I need and more. She’s also really nice!! At least you had a nice diabetes educator, I couldn’t imagine taking shit from all of the healthcare professionals!
Fortunately I have never had a health care professional be that callous with me but I know that they are out there. I suppose that I am lucky that I always see the same doctor for my diabetes. At the same time maybe there is a benefit of having a different set of eyes look at our charts occasionally. Whatever. Most of what I have learned about diabetes I have learned from books and from the diabetes online community. One nice thing about the DOC is that if anyone is mean to you, lots of people will have your back and send virtual hugs:-)
That’s very true. We are often our best resource for learning. I can’t really complain because the Endo appts cost me next to nothing, but sadly a private one would be costly.
For about 10 years that’s what I got out of the same two endos, I’m afraid, and I live in the US (I think the problem where I live is the doctor has about 5-7 minutes for each patient) But, I think in most cases being able to get to know one’s doctor should help immensely. It feels utterly soul crushing to have someone minimize the way that we are tackling staying alive with an impossible disease! I mean that’s essentially what we are doing and then they look at some numbers and exclude all the other bits. It drives me insane! I see it as a larger problem with our medical system. They aren’t trained to understand the mental component of diabetes which I think is a huge aspect of our life with this. Anyway, great post. I’m glad you had a diabetes educator in your corner 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing that! I wish at the time I’d had more confidence to stick up for myself. I’m sorry to hear that you went through the same thing, I hope you have ditched that Endo.
Frank, this is really good. There is still a lot of D-education to be distilled, by both healthcare professionals AND patients. Thanks!
Thanks so much Stephen! Agreed on both points.
Wow these are some really interesting insights into public medicine. I suppose I can consider myself lucky to see the same doctor every time. Like you said though, they just need a bit more understanding. I don’t understand these doctors that try to scare us all the time. Sorry you went through that. Endo’s should just always be nice. We deal with enough. 🙂
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Goodness!! How about a bit of praise for your honesty and diligence in filling out your diary correctly. I’ve always been terrible at that.
Thanks. Although I’ve become a bit slack with that nowadays haha
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