Yes, you heard me right…picking the right medical professional is similar to my quest to find the perfect boyfriend. I want someone who isn’t self-absorbed, a know-it-all, and above all else is kind and compassionate. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the same age that I had my first boyfriend. I was a gawky, gangly teenage girl with a mouth locked in a metal prison of braces and had a flare for high-water jeans and turtlenecks that had figure skates sprinkled all over them.
My quest for the two loves has had the same history spanning 17 years. Good thing for my broken pancreas, I’ve been more successful in finding the right diabetes medical professional then a Friday night date.
Red flags to be on the lookout for:
1. They make promises that aren’t kept. The doctor who diagnosed me told my parents and I if I could make it five years with the disease, there would be a cure by the time I went to college. Well I graduated from high school 11 years ago and I’m still stuck with this faulty pancreas. Never give someone false hope…ever.
2. They use black and white language. When they can only give you terms such as “good diabetic or bad diabetic” or “good food, bad food” or “good blood sugar, bad blood sugar”…this is not a good thing. This will color your thinking into believing you’re a good or bad person based on this person’s opinion of good and bad, right and wrong. Diabetes is a chronic condition that some days is overwhelmingly exhausting. On paper your A1C may seem perfect, but you could be suffering from very scary, low blood sugars overnight. The right medical professional will want to see the whole picture, before jumping to judgment.
3. They’re know-it-alls. Yes, we have major respect for you going to school for a majority of your life and understand that you probably know a lot about science…but don’t negate our opinions with being the person living with diabetes. We are the ones who don’t get to take a day off from this disease. If they come off as having the absolute truth, more then likely I will be repulsed and not want to listen because you’re making me feel inferior.
4. They only want to talk about diabetes. So this may seem a little off, but when I first met my current doctor, his first question to me was, “Tell me about your hopes and dreams for your future.” It’s easy for people to think because you live with a chronic condition, that that’s the only thing your world revolves around. Dr. Moraghan (my endocrinologist) understood that if the rest of my life was not in balance….my A1c certainly never would be.
Signs that you found the one:
1. They act like a coach, not a dictator. When you live with diabetes, you live with it every minute...there are no days off. When a doctor sees you for maybe 30 minutes 3-4 times a year and all they want to do is bark orders at you and have a one-way conversation…this will not be affective. Dr. Moraghan told me in my appointment, he views himself as just one of the coaches on Quinn’s Diabetes Team. He’s there to encourage me, throw out suggestions and figure out ways to best motivate me. Living with a chronic illness is a marathon, not a sprint. It can be exhausting. I feel blessed to have a doctor like him on Team Q now.
2. They ask you what questions YOU have. I was a sophomore in high school and I had been asked to go to my first formal with a guy. I had my quarterly appointment with my diabetes nurse educator, Marcia Meier, and on my pre-appointment sheet there was a spot to write down your questions for your visit. The only question I had written down was where should I put my insulin pump with my green, silk gown that my mom had helped me pick out. Marcia took the time during the appointment to troubleshoot with me…she told me I could switch to injections for 24 hours or that she had heard buying a pair of Spanx and wearing it on the inside of my leg, people wouldn’t be able to even notice it. I went with the Spanx option and have been doing that trick ever since. Marcia might of had another agenda for my appointment, but years later she told me that if that’s what was most important to me, that’s what we needed to use that time for. All these years later, I still go to her with my questions and consider her a trusted confidant.
3. They say a compliment every time they see you. After my doctor's visits, Dr. Moraghan writes on my printed out visit notes the things that I have done well since my previous visit. My last visit I told him of my sadness of when I meet with other people living with diabetes, some of them are frightened to go to their diabetes medical appointments because of a past traumatic experience. He said to me, “Everyone living with diabetes has at least one thing that can be praised and it takes me less then a minute of my day to point that out to them.” He told me of a woman that he saw who has lived with the disease for years and he gave her a compliment about her management of the disease. She started to cry and told him that was the first time anyone had complimented her on her diabetes management. That was heartbreaking for me to hear. If a person with diabetes gets out of the bed every morning, that is a step in the right direction. Baby steps can lead to major milestones.
I wish everyone with diabetes had the opportunity to see someone like Dr. Moraghan and Marcia. They get it. Their pancreas may still be working, but they’re in tune to their patients and truly care. Their passion shines through.
Now back to my search of finding my soul mate…