Monday, November 21, 2011

An Open Letter: Are we all listening?

Dear Diabetes Medical Professional:

I'm not here to tell you how to do your job. I haven't gone to school for years like you have. I haven't spent countless hours, days and nights pouring over medical text books. I haven't been bored to tears during the driest lecture (on diabetes) ever.  I haven't spent sleepless nights during the craziness of the full moon in the ER, trying to peer into the ears of a wiggly, screaming toddler with equally hysterical parents.

But let me tell you what I do know. I know that I am your patient. I know I have a disease that needs to be managed well, and that I could suffer through a host of complications that could rob me of my quality of life… or life itself.

Did you know it doesn't help me if you share scary stories with me? Did you know that it makes me anxious when you ask me what happened, pointing out the red-circled high blood sugar numbers in my log.

Because guess what? I have heard these stories over and over again. I've heard them from you, or other professionals like you. I've heard them from well-meaning family members, friends and colleagues who tell me about a grandmother, an aunt, or a friend who lost limbs, eyesight or even worse, a child who lost the battle in their sleep, before she even had a chance.

So you might wonder what I need from you? 

First and foremost, I need you to understand that I respect you bring medical and other valuable diabetes knowledge to the table. I also don't expect you to have all the answers.

In return, I expect that you will want to understand where I'm coming from. That when I come to you with a crappy A1C, or a concern about my wildly fluctuating BG numbers, or heaven forbid, one complication or another. I am not coming to you for admonishment, or to be asked for a rundown of what happened two Tuesdays ago, at 2:13 pm when I had a high BG number.

Just keep this in mind, can you tell me what you wore to work two Tuesdays ago? That's just one day out of 14. I test 8 times a day - that's more than 50 tests a week!

Please know that I have done my best at just getting through life. I have won some battles, and lost others. I will continue to work on things, to improve, and as I step out of your office, I will have the resolve to do better, and I will. My A1C may or may not accurately reflect this. But it doesn't mean that I haven't stopped trying.

All I ask is that you try to listen to me. Really listen. I promise that I'll try to listen to you as well. Really listen. If we both do this, it will form a strong backbone for our relationship. We can win this together - you as a Diabetes Medical Professional and me, as a Person With Diabetes.

Finally, please remember, that I am a person first.


  1. Yes! I love this.

    Can I print it out and send it to every doctor in the country, please!

    Why can't doctors understand that we're a team?! Without me and my chronic illness, they'd have no glucose logs to interpret. Without me, there'd be nobody to fill their prescriptions. TEAM!

  2. Great Post, was very worthy of retweeting.

  3. Amen! That is all. :)