Endocrinologist Letter + Favourites
A Love Letter to My Endocrinologist for Valentine’s Day
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With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I’m writing a love letter. It’s not to my sweetie, who has kept me grounded and happy for 34 years, but to another man in my life, whom I’ll call Dr. X: my endocrinologist.
Now, it may seem odd to write a mash note to your doctor, but it’s not a mere crush. It’s true love. Having metaphorically kissed lots of frogs in my search for a doctor who understands the emotional and physical trials of type 2 diabetes, I feel lucky to have found him.
Who were these frogs? Before Dr. X, there was the doctor who took one look at me, announced I carried too much weight in my middle, and told me I needed to exercise (I was, at the time, running six miles per day). There was the doctor who kept his eyes on the prescription pad throughout the visit, scribbling refills for Glucophage (metformin) and Amaryl (glimepiride) and ushering me out of the office before I could pose a single question. There was the doctor who, upon hearing that a new drug upset my stomach, told me I’d learn to “live with it.”
Leaving a doctor wasn't easy for me, particularly because I'd been raised to believe that doctors have all the answers, and that if there was a problem, it was probably mine. But each time I left these offices, I felt worse about my health and angrier about my care. I wanted to leave feeling inspired to better manage diabetes and believing I had a partner, not an adversary.
And then, I stumbled upon Dr. X.
RELATED:5 Reasons to See an Endocrinologist if You Have Diabetes
What makes Dr. X such a good practitioner? If, in your search for a good endo, you’ve struggled to find your prince, here are some of the qualities I admire in mine:
- A doctor who listensThis has to be at the top of my list. I’m the kind of patient who has a lot of questions, and though my endo’s waiting room is always crowded, he never rushes me. More than once, he has leaned back in his chair and engaged in a conversation about how tired I am of low-carb eating, whether I should consider a new drug I’ve seen on TV, or simply how I’m feeling about diabetes life.
- A doctor who is thoroughUnlike other docs, who have delivered my A1C results and zoomed on to the next patient (my reading is usually between 5.7 and 6.1), he takes time to examine my daily logs. He checks to see if the morning readings have ticked higher, whether I have nighttime lows, or if I have highs or lows during the day. When taking a close look at my records, he points our trends and issues, letting me know where I might tweak my exercise or diet.
- A doctor who is compassionateManaging diabetes is tough. You can sugarcoat it (no pun intended), but managing a chronic disease can eat away at your soul. And though it isn’t exactly medical, I let him know when I’m exhausted by the daily grind of monitoring my blood sugar, watching my diet, and performing endless exercise. Rather than brush aside these worries, he’ll say, “I know,” and go on to discuss with me some possible steps I might take to make it easier.
RELATED:How Exercising Regularly Can Help You Manage Diabetes Burnout
- A doctor who shares updates on diabetes research and newsIn my time as a person with type 2 diabetes, a number of new medications have come on the market, and while I remain loyal to metformin, my doctor regularly fills me in on options. When, a few years back, I tried first Byetta and then Bydureon (exenatide), he kept track of my progress with phone calls every other day to make sure I was adjusting to the medication. When I decided they weren’t for me, he carefully took in my objections and switched me back to metformin.
- A doctor who is judgment freeLike anyone else, my weight sometimes fluctuates up and down, as do my blood sugar levels. Never has my endo passed judgment; he simply notes it and, if he sees it as a problem, we discuss how I might change up my diet or exercise plan. Not feeling that he’s going to disapprove of me is a big boost in my care, because rather than leave his office feeling guilty or angry, I consistently leave better informed and ready to tackle another six months of care.
Finding the right endocrinologist can be a pain. It may mean changing practices and chasing down medical records. But the boost you can get from finally having someone who truly understands what you go through day to day to manage this disease is worth it not only psychologically but medically. The more you trust your doctor, the more you will feel at ease bringing questions and problems to his or her attention, which can make all the difference in taking care of a chronic disease.
So happy Valentine’s Day, Dr. X., my partner in good health. Thanks for listening and sharing and taking such thoughtful care of me.
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