the ultimate sin
There’s NOTHING more upsetting, more disappointing, more stress-producing to someone living with diabetes or another long-term health problem than finding out their doctor is simply not a supportive team member. And by “team member,” I mean these things–all of which are essential, in my opinion, to helping me live with the ups and downs of diabetes!–
ESSENTIAL PATIENT-DOCTOR FOUNDATIONS TO BEING ABLE TO LIVE HAPPILY AND WELL include:
1- open communication
2- good listening skills
3- positive outlook
4- collaboration and TEAMWORK at all times!
5- problem-solving skills
6- mutual sense of caring and respect
7- the ability to share and exchange what you know about diabetes
8- helpful connections to professionals who can make a difference in how you deal with diabetes
9- mutual ability to set goals and work steadily to reach them
10- HOPE . . . POSITIVITY . . . and a BELIEF THAT ALL THINGS GOOD ARE POSSIBLE!
Why am I so burned about these issues? I have spent the better part of four years working with an endocrinologist most people rave about–only to continue hitting my head against the wall, believing he’d indeed come to know me, value my experiences, help me live better with diabetes. Recently, I swallowed hard and talked to him about what I needed from him to do well. This took courage. Staying with him was my mistake; I assumed that, given enough time, he’d come to care about me and my struggles to maintain the best blood sugars possible. So I’ll admit it right now: I was wrong! Assumptions are almost always the breeding ground for miscommunication and differences.
Yesterday, two things happened that hit me smack in the face after nearly four years of struggling to connect with “one of the best endocrinologists” in my health care plan: My doctor–overwhelmed by entering data into a system requiring computerized (versus paper-filled) medical records–asked me question after question that proved he didn’t remember much of anything about me and doesn’t regard me as a collaborator in how “we” try to manage my diabetes issues.
“So,” he started (50 minutes later than my scheduled appointment time), “your HA1C went up and you’re not in very good control.” No questions, no problem-solving. In fact, he was so focused on his system’s red tape accountability and his own personal problems, he didn’t even follow through on the fact that no one had downloaded information from my insulin pump or blood sugar machine. Sighing, no direct eye contact, entering the most basic information including, “How long have you had diabetes?” For this, I waited an hour?
The second glaring incident came after I went home following my appointment with Dr. T. My husband related that when he’d been contacted by the doctor on call regarding his sinus infection, it was my doc who called him back. Their exchange went something like this: “Hello, this is Dr. T.” “Oh,” my husband replied, “Hi, Dr. T. You treat my wife Kathy for diabetes.” The shocking undeniable proof of his response? “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe. I have so many patients. What’s your problem?”
For THIS I worked four years, hoping that I could help shape this “great” doc into someone who could make a difference both for me and others? His depressed and negative attitude may be symptoms of a system that is overwhelming all of our physicians. And he has been slammed with coming to terms with developing his own diabetes (Type 2). But I can finally solidly say, THIS IS NO EXCUSE! Everyone living with serious health issues deserves better and should seek out the best possible team you can find. Each one of us deserves to be part of that team!
So I indeed feel like a fool–disappointed, saddened, a little hopeless right now. My doctor has committed the ultimate sin by not respecting and including me. I perhaps did the same–by trusting too much, waiting too long, not listening to the warning signs because I feared seeking out a better partner from the great unknown. But my anger at myself for allowing this situation to fester is starting to work a magic of its own–empowering me to move forward and willfully take (and demand) a different–and more positive–path. We all deserve at least that.
B well, b happy, and live life to the fullest.
Until next time, kath