Feel empowered to take control of your health—arrive at your next check-up armed with questions to ask your doctor.
"Ask your doctor!" Sounds like good advice, but sometimes it's easier said than done. The list of questions about diabetes can feel overwhelming—How is it going? Are you taking your medications? Why is your number so high?
Sometimes sitting in the doctor's office can give you a feeling of powerlessness, like you're simply there to endure lab work and to be poked and prodded. It can make you feel like a number, defined by your diabetes and only as good as your last A1C or blood pressure result.
You are MORE than your diabetes, and your diabetes questions deserve answers, so let's get comfortable with the whole "ask your doctor" concept. Remember that everyone's questions will be unique to their situation, so there's no set list of questions. Today, we'll dive into some simple ways to articulate, remember, and ask your doctor all those diabetes questions that have been gnawing at you. If you take action you can take control of the conversations around your health.
Plan Your Conversation
Sometimes doctor's appointments feel too short for questions, but part of being an empowered patient is raising your voice. Usually, we know when our doctor appointments are coming up, so we have a valuable opportunity to plan our conversations ahead of time.
Do you have questions about diabetes that crop up from time to time? Write them down! Are you struggling with blood sugar control at a certain time of day? Are you interested in trying a new medication? Did you hear about a treatment option that you want to follow up on? Do you have a specific health concern that keeps nagging at you? Keep a running list of your questions and concerns in the "notes" feature on your smartphone, or you can go analog and keep an index card in your glucose meter. It's your body and your health, so make sure that your questions are answered!
Do Your Patient Prep Work
Being a patient with diabetes means you have to do more than just show up at the doctor's office on time. There's patient prep work you can do to ensure you get the most out of your appointment. Make sure you bring a list of your current medications and doses, your glucose meter (and blood sugar downloads, if you have them), and your insurance information.
Bringing these information essentials, alongside your list of diabetes questions, helps make your appointment productive and empowering.
Remember That All of You Matters
You might be sitting in the doctor's office to check on your diabetes, but remember that managing your health means seeing yourself as a whole person. Your diabetes doesn't exist in a vacuum but in the context of your whole life, so make sure you let your doctor know if there are things outside of your blood sugars and medications that need addressing.
If there are non-diabetes reasons why you're having trouble keeping up with your diabetes tasks, don't leave these reasons unmentioned. Bring up those major life stress points (e.g., new baby, loss of employment, divorce, etc.). As a patient, you can ask about mental health consults, referrals to nutritionists, information on effective exercise ... anything goes when aiming for improved diabetes management.
Your medical team can only work with what they know, so make sure they know what's important to you and in your life so they can help develop strategies for coping. Diabetes can weave its influence into many parts of your life, so be honest when it comes to asking for help.
Any day is a great day to start prepping for your next doctor's visit, so why not start now? Whether your appointment is tomorrow or one month from now, it's never too late to start getting the most out of your time with your healthcare team. Good luck—you've got this!
By Kerri Sparling
Kerri Sparling has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1986, when she was diagnosed at the age of seven. She is an internationally recognized diabetes advocate. Kerri is the creator and author of Six Until Me, which she established in 2005 and which remains one of the most widely-read diabetes patient blogs, reaching a global audience of patients, caregivers, and others in the industry. She has been featured on NPR, US News and World Report, CBNC, Yahoo! Health, LA Times, and The Lancet, among other national outlets.
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