Looking for professionalism and empathy in the doctor's office.
By Travis Grubbs
May 2010 — Have you ever wanted your doctor to get diabetes? I have, especially after a recent visit when my doctor and I just didn't "connect." I like my doctor. I think he's very competent and knowledgeable, and understands the nature of type 2 diabetes. However, there are times when I don't believe he takes my description of my symptoms seriously.
Since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I have been experiencing aches and pains in my neck, shoulders, chest, and legs. Dr. "R" labeled these symptoms as "nerve pain" and attributed them as a complication of type 2 diabetes. We tried treating them with medication, but the aches and pains would come and go as they please, and didn't seem to pay any attention to the medication. On one doctor's visit I discussed this Dr. R. He responded, "Travis, you are just strange."
That really pissed me off on three levels.
1.I have been strange for a long time. It's no news flash. Come on; tell me something I don't know!
2.That flippant response did nothing for my anxiety and concerns over my condition. Am I the only one trying here?
3.I am paying for medication, along with his expertise, that is useless in treating my symptoms. I want results, not stupid remarks.
I left his office thinking, "It would be nice if he could experience what it was like to have type 2 diabetes." As I pondered that notion, I realized that it was unikely that my healthy doctor would just suddenly get type 2 diabetes. But, since he couldn't change, why couldn't I get a doctor that already had diabetes? That way my medical provider could relate to my experience, and may be we could "connect."
I realized that finding such a doctor wouldn't be easy. I have noticed that most doctors seem to stay in great shape, so it's unlikely I would find one with type 2. I would more likely find one with type 1, but then they'd also have to be in a field relative to my condition. A diabetic gynecologist, dermatologist, or psychiatrist would not be very useful. Well, a diabetic psychiatrist might be able to explain my "strangeness". Since there are no endocrinologists in my area, a general practitioner (like I have now) or an internist would have to suffice.
Since I have never seen a doctor include personal information, such as any chronic conditions, in their yellow page ads, a little investigation would be in order. But how would I go about it? Would it be appropriate to call and ask the office staff? "Hi, I'm looking for a doctor to treat my diabetes. Does Dr.___ have diabetes?" I don't think that would go over very well.
I recently came upon a treatment plan for my "nerve pain" on my own, and by accident, which also saved me from having to solicit for a diabetic doctor. The need for a daily exercise regimen had been eating at me for some time (I got bored with walking and stopped). So I bought an awesome Trek 3 Series mountain bike. The physical exercise I am getting is low impact, at 2 to 3 miles a day, 5 days a week. And to my surprise, my "nerve pain" has disappeared. Why? I don't know. I'm not a doctor, but I doubt a doctor could explain it either.
It's been great not having to deal with the chronic pain. Now that I am feeling better, I have decided that Dr. R can still be my doctor. However, I am going to have to educate him on how to treat a patient with type 2 diabetes. Medication is not always the answer, and flippant remarks should never be used when addressing one's health concerns.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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