Are You Getting The Diabetes Care You Need?
You know managing diabetes is a big job; a job you must deal with 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, unless it is Leap Year and you get an extra day of diabetes, as a 6-year old patient pointed out to me recently. My son has had diabetes for more than 25 years, and on every day since he was diagnosed, he does a “diabetes checkup” several times an hour, stopping whatever he is doing to think about how he is feeling, and whether he needs to check his blood sugar, eat something, or take a little insulin.
My son works hard to manage his diabetes; on his own he makes almost all the decisions that affect his health, and he does a terrific job. But just like everybody else, he needs help. He needs the loving support of his family and friends, and he needs the caring support of his health care providers as well.
Having a really good doctor and other diabetes health professionals can make life much easier. Here are some tips for getting the most from the time you spend with these diabetes experts.
Be prepared. Keep track of the parts of daily life with diabetes that are hardest for you. Is it sticking to your meal plans? Remembering to take all your medication? Getting (or staying) active? Once you have identified the issue you struggle with most, try to focus on the specific problem. If you can’t remember to take all your medication for example, what pill or time of day causes you the most problems? Keep a list of these specific “sticking points”. Look over the list before you visit your health care provider, think about which problems are most important so you can talk about them first, and take the list with you to the appointment. Ask a family member or friend to accompany you to the appointment if having a second set of ears there would help.
Communicate clearly. Let your doctor know as soon as the appointment starts that you have some things you want to talk about. That will help your provider make time to address your concerns, and make it less likely that you will be trying to squeeze in an important question as your provider is heading out the door to see the next patient. Be sure to start with the issue you are most concerned about, and describe it as briefly but specifically as possible. For example, “I’m really having problems remembering to take the lunchtime insulin dose you prescribed last time, especially on weekends.”
Clear communication is also important when your provider makes a recommendation you don’t feel comfortable with. Let’s say you have been checking your blood glucose once a day in the morning and your provider suggests you start checking three times a day to help you find a way to lower your A1c level. If you aren’t comfortable checking three times a day, say so. Speaking up this way is not easy for many people but it’s very important, because if you do speak up your doctor can often help. For example, he or she could suggest ways to make checking three times a day easier, or ways to get more information with fewer checks, by checking at different times on different days, for example.
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I'm sitting waiting for a table at the cafe' for me and a friend who is running a bit late. Feeling a little off, I grab my test kit and poke my finger, getting a little blood droplet. "Does that hurt?" Asks the man sitting next to me. He's an older guy, with some pretty profound ear hair. I note the ear hair as I say "Sort of... I think I'm kind of used to it now. I've been doing it a long time." My sugar is a little elevated...