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.