How One Endocrinologist Ended My Doctor Dread
I’ve seen my fair share of endocrinologists over the 11 years I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes. When I was diagnosed at age 16, I went into the diabetes clinic at Stanford. I loved the doctors and the certified diabetes educators I saw there. I looked forward to my appointments. As I approached 18, though, I aged out of the pediatric clinic. The dreaded time had come to move on and find a new doctor.
I saw many great doctors in my search. All of them were qualified. But none of them were the right fit for me. It was hard to decide to see a different doctor after a few visits. I didn’t want to insult these doctors or make them feel they had wronged me in any way. They simply weren’t for me.
I went through a period of time where I didn’t have an endocrinologist because I was discouraged with my search for the perfect doctor. I started to think I was being unreasonable and that in today’s crazy healthcare world I was silly to keep changing doctors due to personal preferences. Did the “perfect” doctor for me really exist? Deep down I believed he or she did. So with my parent’s support, I pressed on, and my search continued.
Last year I again decided to stop seeing my endocrinologist. Afterwards I approached my primary care physician to see if he could recommend another endocrinologist for me. He referred me to an endo he said had “taken great care of his patients in the past.” The problem was I couldn’t schedule for more than two months! I decided to give it a shot anyway.
I was nervous on the day of my appointment. I started worrying that I’d just end up moving to a new doctor after this visit. But it turned out the doctor was a great fit. He was quiet, asked very specific questions and made me feel comfortable. The most important thing for me: when he reviewed my meter data he didn’t comment on or scold me when he stumbled across the blood glucose level (BGL) numbers in the 200s, the few instances in the 300s, or the shocking number in the 400s. His neutrality was a relief, and it empowered me to try harder to better my blood sugars.
While lowering my A1c has always been a struggle, nothing has compared to the last couple months. For a while my A1c slowly made its way down into a good range. Then I hit a wall and seemed to loose any and all control. My A1c began to rise, and I felt like I couldn’t control my blood sugars. Increased insulin/carb ratios, increased basal rates and decreased carbohydrate intake didn’t seem to do much at all. As my next endocrinologist appointment approached, anxiety set in, and I started to panic. What would he say? Would he drop me as a patient?
My doctor dread was back. I was tempted to cancel my appointment, but I knew I needed help. When the medical assistant took my stats, my blood pressure and heart rate were through the roof (very unusual for me). I was shaking, sweating and afraid. I was convinced my doctor would be shocked at my poor control. When he finally came in I was so stressed out I could barely speak. In a very gentle voice he asked me how I was doing. I explained how I’d been having a lot of trouble controlling my BGs. Increased insulin dosing, diet changes—nothing seemed to be helping. With a gentle smile he explained how this is more common than one might think. He told me often when young adults start working more they don’t always notice how much stress they take on and how much time they lose that was previously spent tending to diabetes care. He calmly explained the steps we would take to get my disease back under control. He told me things would be just fine.
I felt such a wave of relief. This was something I had been bottling up for months, and his response gave me the most peace and hope I have ever experienced on my type 1 diabetes (T1D) journey. I managed to hold it together through the rest of my visit and left feeling confident I could turn things around. When I got to my car, I sobbed, letting go of all the fear, stress and lack of control I had felt for so long.
Now that I’ve found a doctor I love, I realize my search wasn’t fruitless. It’s so important to find a doctor who you’re comfortable with and who supports you in the ways you need to be supported. Trust your gut. Search for the right doctor. Find the perfect ally to help you handle your journey with diabetes. It is so worth it.