“People with diabetes need a couple of families – the one that they are born with, the one they create, and their medical team. It is the medical team that can keep you, your family, and each other from burning out. No one has to carry the burden of care alone, and everyone on the team should be interested in doing their professional best for you,” commented Dr. Wendy Satin Rapaport, a psychologist who has worked with families living with diabetes for over three decades.
Dr. Rapaport continued, “You are the captain of the team. Your health care providers don’t do things to you (or your children), they do them with you.”
Although you have to put it into action, developing a plan that works for you is a cooperative effort. You should be active and self-confidently involved during and in-between office visits. Communication is the key. What does this mean?
• Before your office visit, share blood glucose results and highlight any results that cause you concern or seem unexplained. This provides the doctor with information to review in advance.
• Bring a copy of the information you sent with you in case it was not received or got misplaced.
• Review your blood sugar log before your visit looking specifically for any patterns or things that may have caused unusual highs or lows.
• Write down questions and concerns before your appointment. Keep your list short – two or three issues are probably all that can be addressed in most visits due to time constraints – and make sure to discuss the most important things first.
• You should feel comfortable sharing any worries. If you feel that you can’t comfortably talk to your doctor, it may be time to find another provider that you can confide in.
• If you have information about new drugs or products, share this information with your physician. It could be a learning experience for them, too
• Be honest about what you or your child are or are not doing. This includes compliance, eating, monitoring or other issues. Describe barriers that tend to get in the way of controlling diabetes.
• Discuss any physical changes or new symptoms.
• Engage in “shared decision-making” with your doctor. This means actively participating. The day-to-day management is up to you, and you need to understand the various options and express your preferences regarding the best treatment plan for you and your family.
• Discuss how to obtain help outside the scheduled appointments. Ask what may qualify as an emergency and at what point you would need to contact him/her. See if sharing blood glucose levels with the office on a regular basis is beneficial.
• Take notes!! Be sure you know what the doctor said and that you understand. If not, ask questions.
• Since physicians are often pressed for time, you may wish to arrange a phone call after office hours to explore issues further. Doctors often make calls from the office after they have finished with patients.
• Establish a good relationship with members of the office staff. This helps communication. They often have significant knowledge and can pass questions directly to the doctor in between office visits.
Remember, as captain of the team and the main player in the day-to-day management you must come to a visit prepared, ask questions and persist until your questions are answered.
SOURCES: “When Diabetes Hits Home” by Wendy Satin Rapaport, LCSW, PsyD; “How to Talk to Your Doctor about Diabetes” by Rick Mendosa, HealingWell.com; “Making the Most of Your Diabetes Doctor Visit” by Betsy Carlisle, Diabetes Self-Management.