My Diabetes Team
Good self care is about more than doctors.
October 2010 —
Recently, on her personal blog, fellow dLife columnist Rachel Baumgartel wrote a great post called "Who's On My Team?" She talked about her life team, separating people into either the "medical team" or the "personal team."
I like the mental image of a team that helps me get from start to finish in a life with diabetes. But I'm not able to put people into two separate teams. For me, managing my diabetes is a team effort, but the personal stuff blends right in with the specifically medical stuff.
So who is on my diabetes team?
Obviously, I have an endocrinologist on my team. My endo and I have been paired up for seven years now, and the main reason my pediatrics team shifted me over to her when I turned 24 years old is because she's one of the top diabetes and pregnancy endocrinologists in the country. Working closely with her has helped me realize my dream of becoming a mom, and now she and I are aiming to keep me as healthy as possible as I raise my daughter.
In addition to the endo, I see a certified diabetes educator every other time I'm at Joslin. During my pregnancy, she was essential in helping me work through some of the nitty-gritty blood sugar stuff, but post-pregnancy, she's really helping realign my brain to diabetes, and life, after delivery. I've always felt that CDEs are really good at seeing the "big picture" and realizing that not everything in my day is easy to predict.
I also have a dietitian in my arsenal of care. Food is something I've always struggled with, and I'm not great at eating the same thing every day (or even the same range of things every week). My visits with the dietitian force me to really examine what I'm taking in every day, helping me acknowledge the hidden calories and carbs in things like condiments. Also, just knowing that I'm seeing the dietitian in the coming weeks helps motivate me to not only track the food I'm eating, but to make smarter choices, too.
Aside from the diabetes-specific medical professionals in my circuit, I have a few other docs on call. I make sure that I see my dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and check ups, because twenty-plus years of type 1 diabetes plays a role in the health of my teeth and gums. I also am very careful about making sure I see my gynecologist for a yearly exam. Things like dental cleanings and PAP smears are important preventative care, especially for people with chronic illnesses. (We take all the prevention we can get!)
But I have to say that, despite all these medical minds that are involved in my diabetes care, the biggest supporters on my team are my friends and family. Even though my endocrinologist is the one making tweaks to my basal rates and reviewing my insulin-carb ratios, my husband is the one who is beside me as I test my blood sugar every morning and before I go to bed at night. And before I met Chris, my parents were the ones who helped me get through the day-to-day duties of diabetes. Even though these people aren't medically trained specialists, they're on the front lines of my diabetes and they know the most about my diabetes because they are part of my everyday life. Without them, I'd be a complete mess.
If you had to create a roster for your diabetes team, who would be on it?
Visit Kerri's website.
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.
Shredded Steak with Rice, Beans, and Plantains Basil Cheese Spread Simple Pineapple Sweet Potatoes Stuffed Poblano Chilies Apples and Peanut Butter Crisp Beef and Onion Soup Cranberry Pear Tossed Salad Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Garlic Thai Green Beans Toasted Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich
During that long first week in the hospital following diagnosis, the endocrinologists and nurses teach you many things. A proper hairy eyeball is not one of them. The hairy eyeball comes with time. Eyes are squinted at 30 degrees without blinking. Head moves slowly in direction of intended target and protrudes forward alien-like. Lips are tightly aligned and locked. Limbs and torso are...