The Endo that Can Make You or Break You
To many who have not been diagnosed with a specific medical condition, going to a doctor is one of many routine visits that can take place over the year; one more appointment in your schedule. This professional takes a very different role in your life once you hear about a diagnosis that you never thought you would hear. Yes, as humans we tend to think that diabetes or cancer or Parkinson’s will never happen to us, or at least I thought that way.
Coming from a family with no hereditary predisposition to diabetes, it was a shocker to me to have been diagnosed with it. My diagnosis came up as “Gestational Diabetes” during my first pregnancy when they perform the glucose test at approximately 18 weeks.
“It is pretty common for the placenta to make you resistant to insulin,” the OB/GYN said, “It will go away right after you give birth.” But that hypothesis was quickly proven wrong three months after giving birth, when my vision was so blurry that I couldn’t drive and I used my last two left over test strips from the pregnancy to test my glucose levels. The reading was terrifying: 400. I retested and the reading was 420.
A dear friend of mine who happens to be a Diabetes Educator had just interviewed with this “charming” endocrinologist who she really liked and thought his kindness and warmth will help me deal with the diagnosis more efficiently. I showed up to his office with my husband and my parents, all of us terrified and confused as to what where the next steps to take.
“Be thankful that at least you got to experience motherhood for one time in your life,” those were his first words. He strongly suggested that I shouldn’t have more children and then introduced me to an insulin pump or as he described “your new best friend.” To a person who has rarely heard of diabetes, all of these terms and news were terrifying. We were all sobbing. He finished the appointment by providing his cell phone number in case I had any questions or needed support. As a Venezuelan, I was used to that kind of gesture in my home country where doctors and patients have a more personal relationship, but I knew that it wasn’t common in the United States, so that definitely felt comfortable.
In the midst of all this commotion, sadness and despair, my father, who is the more analytical and less emotional member of the family, suggested that we seek a second opinion. I now think that perhaps back then I was so drowned in sorrow that it never crossed my mind to think that perhaps I fell into the hands, the wrong doctor. In everyday life we seek a second opinion for almost everything; sometimes a third and a fourth too, so why didn’t it ever cross my mind to do the same with my health?
After much research I found someone who had amazing credentials and seemed to be very involved with the latest research and treatments. This person quickly made me feel empowered and provided me with the right tools to tackle my diabetes. He laughed during our first appointment when I asked him about not being able to have more children and dying 15 years younger, “You can have as many kids as you want and live life like any other person as long as you are controlled.”
My journey with this amazing endo was just getting started: he started getting me prepared one year in advance for my second pregnancy. We met every three months during a year: his goal was to lower my A1C first, and then make sure I was actually able to maintain that A1C before he gave me the green light to get pregnant.
“That urine stick shows you are pregnant and I will be the first person to find out after your husband. O.K?” I clearly remember his words. I will be forever grateful for his guidance and care and the way we worked together; the way he made me feel empowered and how simple he was when explaining diabetes to a newly diagnosed patient: “Remember this, everything will go well as long as you are controlled. You can do anything you want and live a normal life.”
Six months after visiting that crazy endo, I received a letter from his office saying that he was no longer going to practice medicine. I don’t know what happened, but I was sure relieved.
Read more about Pregnancy and Type 1 diabetes.