My Search for Dr. Right
Leaving my endocrinologist’s office last week, I should have been a little discouraged. Despite my best efforts, my A1C had crept up by two tenths of a percent, I hadn’t lost the five pounds that I swore I would when I last left the office six months before, and my cholesterol had mysteriously decided to jump. All fixable (and they will be fixed) but nonetheless bothersome.
Yet as I sat in my car preparing to take off, I realized that if anything, I felt a little buoyant.
And it was all thanks to my endocrinologist.
I’ve had diabetes—gestational or type 2—for about 30 or so years, so I’ve been through my share of endos. I’ve had good ones and not-so-good ones; endos who were more concerned with ushering me quickly in and out of the office than how I felt; endos who brushed off my questions as though they were annoying mosquitos. But after shopping around and taking recommendations, I have finally settled on an endo who really gets me.
What do I mean by this? I mean for one, he listens. Really listens. Not only about any health concerns or questions I have, but also about how my life is going—my kids, my work, etc. It isn’t because we’re friends or even going to be friends, but I believe he has a deep empathy for people who deal with a day to day chronic disease and recognizes that stress on the home and work front can impact my diabetes care.
All of which got me thinking about why those other endos didn’t work out. Hence, three warning signs that you might want to switch your endo. Here goes:
3 Reasons to Find a New Endocrinologist
- Your doctor rushes you in and out. Endocrinologist offices are notoriously busy; there are lots of diabetes patients out there. But seeing your endo once every three or six months is an important part of your care, and you shouldn’t let yourself be pushed out on an assembly line. Make sure that he or she spends time with checking the pulse and nerves in your feet, your blood pressure, and your heart rate. And if you have blood work, be certain that you have time to discuss it and any tweaks that might need to be made.
- Your doctor is dismissive. You have a right to ask questions and question your doctor’s recommendations. There is a lot of decent diabetes-related education on the Internet today, and patients—if they want to—can be very well informed. If you have questions about certain medications, voice your objections. If you would rather try diet and exercise than additional meds, this should spawn a conversation. If it doesn’t or it’s “my way or the highway,” it might signal that it’s time for a change.
- Your doctor scolds you. We’re all adults, until we go to the doctor’s office. Then, at times, patients revert to childhood, letting the doctor lecture while you sit there, cowed. This is not good. No one ever reduced his or her sugars or lost weight because someone scolded her. It’s one thing for a doctor to recommend lifestyle changes for your health and another to chastise you because you haven’t met his/her expectations. Diabetes is stressful enough.
Sitting in the car, I knew that I would be able to get my cholesterol under control and my sugar numbers down. (Those pesky five pounds have been hanging around since 1992, so that may be a lost cause.) And it wasn’t because my doctor had scolded me, but because we had talked it out, adult to adult and came up with a plan. If you don’t have this kind of relationship with your endo, maybe you should ask for more.