A Timely NDAM Endo Appointment

Diabetes, diabetes, diabetes! That’s all I hear and think about, all day long, day in and day out…

I risk sounding like Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch with that opening line, but since November 1st, diabetes is THE only thing on my mind – thanks to NDAM 2022 kicking off, among other factors.

That’s why the timing of my latest endocrinology appointment was particularly fortuitous – until I sat down in that doctor’s office, I hadn’t quite realized just how desperately I needed help from my healthcare team. And it wasn’t until we talked through my specific concerns that I realized that I’m actually doing a lot better on the diabetes front than I had assumed…and recognition of that, plus my obvious desire to aim for even more improvement, has gone a long way in changing my attitude.

In fact, you could say that this appointment totally revitalized how I feel about my diabetes lately, and I’m thankful that it happened before I got swallowed up in the throes of burnout.

I went into the appointment hoping that I would gain clarification around my use of the Omnipod 5 system. I started using it a couple of months ago, and from day one, I remained confident that it would revolutionize my diabetes care. That’s only been half true since I started using it, as the immediate and most obvious improvement happened to my nighttime blood sugars. But my daytime levels, particularly after breakfast and lunch, continued to mystify me.

This particular diabetes appointment came in the nick of time.

As I explained all this to my nurse practitioner, she listened without judgment – the first factor that went into boosting my diabetes spirits. What she said next was the second boon, and that was that I wasn’t alone in my struggle to adjust well to the automated insulin delivery. She validated that what I was feeling was normal, and that there were adjustments we could make as a team that would hopefully result in better utilization of the technology.

The third thing she did for me was put me in touch with someone at Insulet who would be able to answer my questions about the algorithm and fill in the blanks about the components of it that weren’t clicking with me. She made this connection for me before the end of our appointment, and witnessing her do so made me feel better about having one less hoop to jump through post-appointment…and goodness knows, when it comes to the admin side of diabetes, any assistance I can get on making phone calls or sending messages is a huge help.

This single, thirty-minute appointment took a huge weight off my shoulders that I’ve been carrying around all summer and fall this year. Of course, there’s still work to be done on my part, and little things like remembering to refills prescriptions are still my responsibility alone. But I’m feeling a lot more confident in my ability to make the progress that I’ve been so eager to achieve, and that alone is massive – and even more special, having happened during NDAM.

You Should Feel Empowered to Advocate for Yourself and Your Diabetes

This was the message conveyed to me after one of the best endocrinology appointments I’ve ever had, at least in my adulthood.

I’ll confess that I was nervous going to my first endo appointment of the new year. I didn’t know what to expect as I wasn’t bringing any specific concerns with me – besides the fact that I was upset about a conversation I’d had with a different doctor regarding a separate issue.

After the nurse practitioner and I exchanged pleasantries, she sat down at the computer screen that was displaying my record and asked me what I wanted to discuss during our appointment.

That’s when it all came flooding out.

I babbled about how I didn’t have anything in particular I wanted to talk to her about besides the fact that I got a very discouraging message from a doctor who told me I needed to have better control over my diabetes, and that this was infuriating to me because 1) not all of my health concerns can be blamed on my diabetes and 2) it was disheartening to be told by one subset of my health care team that I’m doing great with an A1c of around 7, but to hear from another subset that I’m not doing great and need to work harder. Once I finished my train of thought, I braced myself for a less-than-favorable reaction.

But that’s not what I got.

I’m really glad that nobody walked into the exam room as I was taking goofy selfies like this.

Rather, my NP asked me to explain my concerns in greater detail. She sat, listened, and told me that she disagreed with the comments from my other doctor’s office. It was validating to hear someone who actually does work in diabetes reassure me that, for starters, my diabetes might not necessarily be to blame for any other health issues I was experiencing. She also made me feel better about my A1c and that my track record proves how hard I’ve worked over the years to maintain a 7 (or below) and that it’s not indicative at all of a lack of control over anything.

Best of all, when I sheepishly admitted to her that I’d been embarrassed to write in about the health concern in question, she reminded me that I should always feel empowered to advocate for myself and my overall wellness. It was an incredibly powerful message for her to convey to me, seeing as my self-doubt had manifested itself in full-force over this whole interaction with the doctor’s office. And it’s a message that I plan to carry with me to future doctor’s appointments to help ensure that I do stay on top of my health to the fullest extent possible, while also making my voice heard.

At the end of the appointment, my NP turned and said to me that I’m an inspiration. While I don’t exactly agree with her words, I can’t remember the last time I left an appointment feeling truly understood as a patient living with type 1 diabetes. That’s what’s inspiring to me…the fact that a physician took the time to recognize the hard work it takes to live everyday life with T1D. And the discovery that my A1c has dropped by .3 to a level that I’m very proud to have reached – well, that’s the cherry on top of my first endocrinology visit of 2022.