It’s So Emotional

January 12th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

Yesterday I went to see my diabetes doctor.  (I somehow like that term better than “endocrinologist.” I like the alliteration!)  I’ve been a mess for the past few days because I knew I was going to see her.  I was a mess driving over to her office.  I was a mess sitting in the room waiting for her.

As I sat in the room I could hear a man in a nearby room speaking to another doctor.  (He was speaking dramatically louder than “classroom voice” so it isn’t like the walls are thin.)  He had a woman with him, perhaps his wife, and I could hear her nervous laughter as he spoke to the healthcare provider.  He spoke of boluses and blood pressure and over-corrections and all sorts of pump- and diabetes-related topics.

My anxiety levels skyrocketed as I listened to him speak. 

He didn’t seem normal.

He seemed incredibly anxious.

I recognized it from my own doctor visits and my own emotions just this week.

I don’t know what it is, but the visits I have had with my diabetes doctors have always felt emotionally superchargedI’ve observed it in many other people living with diabetes, too.

I can’t figure it out: the good medical providers are there solely to help.  They want us to be as healthy as possible, and they want to support us in our efforts to achieve the same. 

So what’s the deal?

The only reason I’ve been able to come up with this afternoon is that perhaps we feel like we don’t need to explain anything about the disease to these medical experts: we expect they know all of the intricacies and daily difficulties of living with the disease.  We expect they will be able to understand our difficulties better than a layperson.  Maybe they are the only ones we feel comfortable will listen.

Or maybe we do our best every day and it still doesn’t feel like we’re doing enough.  Maybe we assume our medical professionals think we should be doing more, or better, or smarter work with our disease.  Maybe we doubt ourselves because we know, if we just said “no” to that cookie or took our medication at a different time that day or if we had just managed our holiday stress a little better we would be healthier and we wouldn’t need to be sitting with a medical professional.

It sounds so illogical when it’s written, doesn’t it?

Yet it’s that dang double-edged sword again: telling someone they have the power to keep their diabetes under control often results in that person feeling like a failure when it doesn’t stay there.

I know my doctor kindly teased me I’m trying to be a perfectionist, and that is certainly true (although I told her I’m just MOTIVATED).   I’m sure I’m being less than logical when my anxiety creeps in and I think “I should be able to do my diabetes better.”  I do my best all the time!  And my body does amazing things in response, and I don’t have much to complain about when it comes to my diabetes.

But because living with diabetes is so constant there isn’t a good way to separate all emotion from management.  Minimizing the emotions by recognizing all blood glucose readings are simply “data” from which to make educated decisions and do not carry any judgment with them at all is a major step in the right direction—a direction we would all benefit from taking. 

We all need to remind ourselves that our best is enough, and the right medical professionals aren’t judging our efforts.  The good ones are in fact trying to provide additional tools we can use to make our lives easier and healthier.  Maybe they’ve got some tricks up their sleeves they want to share.

I fortunately think my doctor is doing exactly that, if I’d just stop with my own stuff and listen.

I bet that guy in the other room could say the same.  I hope, for his sake, that he can.

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  1. Tammy says:

    I know this feeling so well. In the days leading up to an appt (I have one next week in fact) I’m can become a basket case wondering if my a1c is going to be where my endo wants it. This coming appt is worse than usual because my last a1c was up just a tad, nothing terrible just at the outer edge of where my doc wants it. I’ve been working hard to bring it back down and I think I’ve done a good job this quarter but you never know until you get that result.

  2. I was lucky yesterday and did the labs AFTER so I still don’t know what mine is. I told my doc I was afraid what it is and she was very kind to acknowledge that it may not be as bad as I think, and that a couple months higher than normal won’t do me any long term damage. She reminded me life and stress comes in waves.
    I hope you are happy with the amount of work you’ve put in on your diabetes– that’s awesome!!

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