Monday, September 21, 2009

Dear Diabetes Healthcare Professionals

Normally, I write my “Letters to and about Diabetes” on Tuesday. But after reading Amy’s post this morning and following (more like lurking) during last nights #hcsm discussion on twitter, I wrote the following letter.

FYI- I love and APPRECIATE my Endo- this letter is not to him- he gets A LOVE Letter. If it wasn't for Dr. Jabbour & his CDE Cheryl Marco, and my other CDE Gary Schiener (they also get their own letters of love & gratitude) I'd be lost!

I love and appreciate them all very much.

This letter is for other HCP's in the past (they shall remain nameless) who made me as their patient- feel that my concerns weren't valid and that my time and issues weren't important.

They were not "team players" in my goal towards living a great life with diabetes~

Dear Diabetes Healthcare Professionals:

When you talk AT me for the required 10 minute visit, don’t be surprised if I get frustrated because your throwing so much my way. I’m trying to take notes, while keeping track of (and ingesting) what your saying. You need to take a moment and ask: "If I understand and have any questions"

When you tell me what I should do without explaining the reasons why, don’t be shocked or angry when I have questions, or question your reasons. I will do both because I am the patient and it’s my body, it’s my disease, and I need answers in order to get the results we both desire.

I am your patient, you are my Dr. (Nurse, or CDE) and we need to work with one another as a team. You are my diabetes pit crew, and I am the human machine that needs to be in the best shape possible to continue to live a good life with my less than perfect pancreas.

It’s paramount that you speak TO and WITH me- and I will be offended if you don’t.

I need you to explain why a certain medication should (or should not be taken) and why. I’m the one whose putting said meds in my body- I need to know the reasons, and I need to know about side affects, both good and bad.

If you’d like my A1C to be below a certain number, explain and suggest ways that will help me stay on track. Keep in mind that you telling me to exercise and cut back on carbs and fats are not easy tasks and leave me with large gray areas regarding how to reach my A1C goal. I’d appreciate you suggesting little changes and tweaks that could equal positive results.

Don’t look at the clock during our time together. I’ve spent countless minutes (and sometimes hours) in your waiting room for god knows how long, this is my time with you.

If your going to send in an intern to ask preliminary questions, make sure he or she reads my file and knows what type of diabetes I have. For instance, if he has no clue why I’m only on short acting insulin and asks me “Why are you only on short acting insulin?”

It’s apparent he hasn’t taken the time to read my file- and I will be angry.

Take the time to teach your interns how to talk to the patient- it will not only make your job easier, but it will certainly put your patient more at ease. We are nervous and on the defense to begin with. When an intern comes in with attitude and doesn’t read my file- no good can come of it.

Take into consideration that I, as a diabetic am always being judged and questioned by everyone I know, and don’t know for that matter.

If I hear the you use the the term "Brittle Diabetic," I will realize that your not up to snuff in the world of diabetes, and there's a strong chance I will tell you so- and then leave, never to return to your office again.

Please take into to consideration that as a patient and person with over 30 years of experience living life with diabetes- I know many things about my disease that no other medical professional can- and that’s my life on the diabetes roller coaster.

While you as the Health Care Professional are an expert in your field, I am the expert at living with my disease.

There are certain things that I just KNOW. For instance, the day before my period, I feel like my blood sugar is in the 300’s, but for some reason, it will not go above 112. Or the fact that pasta is not friendly for me, but for some strange reason I can achieve Blood Sugar Nirvana with a small vanilla soft serve on a plain cone 10 times out of 10. I know when I’m getting sick two weeks before I’m symptomatic because of high numbers. I know my diabetes idiosyncrasies better than anyone else and do my best to work with them every day.

I’m also willing to acknowledge that your the Professional and that you may have some great suggestions on how to handle my diabetes idiosyncrasies better. Please acknowledge that I know a thing or two regarding my own diabetes as well.

I am an active and willing participant in my diabetes care and know the importance that research and technology plays in my disease. I require that you know all the latest Diabetes research and trials, because I want in!

I’d like (and I know it's asking a lot) for you to put yourself in your patient’s shoes. Imagine and recognize the emotional drain a chronic disease can have on one’s psyche, confidence, and attitude as well as the effects it has on ones body.

PLEASE consider the mental aspect of diabetes and you will not only understand your patient better, you’ll be able to treat them better.

By recognizing the mental, you will see better diabetes coping mechanisms in your patient.

Please know that the relationship that you and I have is one of the most important in my life- I rely on you to help me live my healthiest life possible.

Yes, I need and want you in my life and I hold you in very high esteem. But if I find that you consider me as a number and not a person with wants, needs, questions, and yes, KNOWLEDGE regarding my disease- I’ll find myself another who will.


I know I ask much, but in return I will test, and test again. I will set my alarm for 2 a.m checks if required. I will take my meds; count my carbs, call in my numbers, and I will make you proud.

Because making you proud is just as important as making myself proud- we are a team after all~

Much continued success on the road to my good health!

Kelly K


phonelady said...

amen and another amen . I so want to tell the health care proffesionals everything you just said . Oh yeah absoloutly .

jaimieh said...


Unknown said...

Great read Kelly.

I think you knocked the nail on the head for other Persons with Diabetes and also people with other Chronic illnesses..

Nice one :-)

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Here here!

Cara said...

Ditto. You always say it so well Kelly. Thanks. :)

luvzbooks said...

The wording of this letter is so great. I wish every patient had the courage to say these things to their doctors. Great job!

Ronald Mutimba said...

So humorous and true one time or another I have wantend to do the exact same thing....maybe I will take this letter with me and post it by the entrance to a docs office.

Bernard said...

kk, what a great note. There's lots of useful and relevant info in there. I think it should be required reading for any prospective endo.

k2 said...

As patients we have to use our voices and become our own advocates. We also have to work WITH our health professionals as a team!


THanks, I tried! I wrote it fast because I had a long travel day ahead of me for work. But Amy's letter and the #HCSM discussion on Twitter really inspired me!


Thank you! I try and don't always succeed, but it means the world to me that others like what I wrote!

Thank you for your commenting and liking what I had to say!

WELCOME TO DIABETESALCIOUSNESS AND THANK YOU FOR COMMENTING! I think you should post it on your Dr's door, or at least slip him a printed copy ;)

Your comment means so much to me, THANK YOU. I'm not sure if every Endo would agree, but the good ones would certainly give it a glance!