May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)
Diabetes sucks. We all know that, and I think most of us just sort of deal with it and keep going, because, well, there's not really much we can do about it. We come up with ways to make it suck less, and that's for tomorrow's post, but there's also things that make it suck more, and I'm going to write about one of those today.
One of the things that brings me down is unhelpful doctors/nurses and other health care professionals. I'm not talking about regular HCPs, the people who don't really have anything to do with diabetes. While it is frustrating as hell when they ask stupid questions and downright terrifying at times if these people are responsible for your care, those aren't the ones I'm thinking about are the ones who are actually meant to be helping us - our DSNs and endocrinologists.
I've swapped endos recently, due to various factors and the way my clinic works. The first time I met with my new one he seemed lovely - very enthusiastic and keen to help. The two appointments I've had since? Not so much - in fact I cried after both of them, and I haven't done that in a while.
I'm not really sure I can pinpoint exactly what was so horrible about the appointments, but in both of them I felt so utterly incompetent as a diabetic. The first was rushed - he was running about two hours late, and was clearly trying to catch up, and I had a very hurried appointment which pretty much consisted of him telling me off, both for not contacting the DSNs for help (which I didn't feel I needed) and for not making changes as quickly as he thought I should. The second was a longer version of the first, even though I pointed out that I had tried to contact the DSNs on several occasions and received no response, and a thorough going over of the previous two days of CGM data and wanting to make several changes based on that - oh and a criticism for being 7.3 (131) an hour after a meal...
Oh, and my HbA1c? Is 6%
I walked out of those appointments, and like I said, I cried. I just sat there and thought "what's the point?" If I get criticised and told that I'm not doing well enough even though I work my arse off to get those results, then why bother? I might as well just give up and not worry and get told off just the same. If I get treated the same way with an Hb1c of 6 and one of 10%, then why the hell should I care? (Don't worry, I'm not giving up, I'm just explaining how I felt). I sat there and I felt all those familiar thoughts come back that I had when I was a teenager and I just...gave up. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm a bit older and wiser now, and a bit more stubborn in terms of not letting that bastard get me down, I could see appointments like those sending me on a fast track to burn out.
Because if the people who are supposed to be helping and supporting you through the sucky condition just grind you down, then what chance do we have? It wasn't even so much what he said, I didn't mind him suggesting changes, it was the way he did it. The whole attitude that I was clearly doing things wrong, and every number out of range was explicitly my fault. Who does that kind attitude help?
Luckily, I have other support systems in place (which is tomorrow's post), but I worry about the people who don't, the ones who go into that office and come out feeling like I did and actually do give up. Because it's hard to live with this disease and deal with all the crap that comes with it without fighting against the people who are meant to help as well. It's just one of several things that brings me down about diabetes, but the thing that gets me the most is that it shouldn't be - your diabetes team should be one of the things that tries to make diabetes suck less, not more.