To the Doctor Who Told Me I Couldn't Have Type 1 Diabetes

To the Doctor Who Told Me I Couldn’t Have Type 1 Diabetes


Dear Dr. N,

I walked into your office, hopefully optimistic. I was having stomach issues for quite some time and was lackadaisical about it, and it worsened. I checked out a local “mom” Facebook group to find some gastroenterologist recommendations. Your name was mentioned a few times, and your office was less than a mile from my house. I also was hoping to see a woman, so I was thrilled find see this local recommendation and made the appointment.

You came in with a smile, looked me in the eye, and shook my hand, as it was our first time meeting. I immediately felt calm and confident that I picked a good name out of the virtual hat. Until you asked me about the forms, I had just filled out. “I see here you have type 1 diabetes?” you asked. I recited my usual response that yes, I did, for only six years, diagnosed at age 37 and with no family history.

This was the moment that I lost all faith in you as a doctor and as an educated civilian. You looked up at me and started to explain, “Type 1 is diagnosed at birth.” Umm, no, it’s not. And what really felt like a kick in the gut was when you started to lecture me on the two different types of diabetes, explaining condescendingly, that since I was diagnosed as an adult, I have type 2.

It took everything I had not to walk out. After all, I needed the appointment. I needed your expertise. I understand your schooling isn’t in endocrinology, but the lack of pretty basic knowledge was quite concerning.

Moreover, to have someone, let alone a medical professional, tell you that the disease that you battle day in and day out, is in fact, not the disease you have, takes poor bedside manner to an entirely new level. The sleepless nights, the bruises on my body, the low that put me in the back of an ambulance must have been a figment of my imagination. I quickly started to defend my disease and defend the fact that yes, I DO have type 1 diabetes, and I have been on insulin since the day I was diagnosed.

You looked like you barely believed me as you confidently smirked and went on to jot down your notes. You confirmed my age at diagnosis and went on to say, “What took them so long?” This is when I really should have walked out the door. Instead, I was furious and blurted out, “If I had it for much longer, I would HAVE BEEN DEAD.” Clearly, you have zero understanding of this condition.

After I reluctantly went on with the examination, the outcome was that you recommended a colonoscopy because you didn’t like “me or my family’s history.”  As you started to lay out the details of the preparation and what to expect, you told me to stop all insulin the day before. What? Stop all insulin? You couldn’t have said that. But you did. And I responded with, “Do you mean fast-acting insulin because if I stopped taking all of my insulin, I will likely show up tomorrow in DKA (diabetes ketoacidosis).” This is when I knew I was definitely not returning.

I was angry. I was disappointed. I felt helpless. I was not going to let a doctor who had zero knowledge of my disease, try to convince me that I didn’t have type 1 and almost put me into DKA perform my colonoscopy. I canceled my appointment the next day and decided not to give them a reason why. But three weeks later, it is still making my blood boil.

Please educate yourself. Please listen to your patients. Please do not give out dangerous misinformation. Please, I beg of you.

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Read more about diabetes diagnosis, doctor visit, insulin, Intensive management, rude comments about diabetes.



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