I sat in my doctor's office, feeling like a school child sitting in the principal's office, being scolded for not doing my homework.
This was my general family doctor, not my endo, and this was the first time seeing this new doc after our friendly longtime family physician left his practice a year ago and turned everything over to his colleagues. I hadn't had any reason to visit the office since then, so this was my first encounter, prompted by a head cold I'd been suffering for six days.
No, diabetes wasn't a cause or key issue relating to this at all -- at least, it wasn't for me. And now I just had to convince this new doctor of that.
First came the expected barrage of questions:
Dr. New: "How have your blood sugars been? Are you using an insulin pump? Have you been taking all of your medications? Is your A1C low enough?"
Me: "This has nothing to do with diabetes, it's just a regular head-cold. I've been sick for six days now. I just want to make sure it's not a sinus infection or something that else that might require antibiotics."
Dr. New: What was your most recent blood sugar?
Me: "Uh, it was in the mid-200s when I woke up this morning. And that's pretty much where they've been for the last days."
Dr. New: "Are they always that high?!"
Me: "It's. Because. I. Am. Sick."
Dr. New: "Hmmm. I see. Did you get a flu shot this season?"
Me: "I don't have the flu. I have a cold. But no, I didn't..."
Dr. New: "Oh, well. With diabetes, you really should get a flu shot every year."
At this point, we were about 10 minutes into this office visit and I was just about over everything she was saying -- which to me was honestly just a bunch of pestering and of no particular value. I felt like screaming: "No, this has nothing to do with diabetes and it's not a flu bug, and the last thing I need is a family practitioner scolding me on flu shot etiquette and recommending that I go see my endo!"
I thought back to the recent Diabetes UnConference and some of the discussions we all had about visiting various doctors for medical issues other than D, and how so often they tend to focus only on diabetes and not the problem at hand. Sure, sometimes the two can overlap. But it's always amazing to me -- and so very frustrating -- how little other docs tend to listen to us, when we're trying to keep them on point about a particular non-D health issue. They're often so distracted by the diabetes that they just don't listen.
That was my experience the other day.
Yes, I know the supposed rules about flu shots and immunizations. And I know some people, including some dear friends in the D-Community, have strong opinions on all of that. I don't. I used to faithfully get a flu shot every year, but fell out of the habit in college and for the past decade, have only had a few of them -- and each of those years, I've come down with a flu bug anyway. So that negated the big urgency for me to run and get a shot every year. Next time I get the flu without having the vaccine, I'm sure I'll reconsider. But that's not what this was about. For goodness' sake, I just had a head cold, with coughing and congestion!
Over the course of a week, I had a fever as high as 100.8 and some swinging temp flashes for a few days, but again it was all manageable. I sacrified my beloved coffee for a week straight, in favor of consuming green tea along with my daily regimen of cold meds and cough syrup. And yes, I'd been taking naps during the day and going to bed early and rising a bit later to get that much-needed rest.
And of course being sick elevated my blood sugars somewhat; they'd been hovering in the 200s most of the time even with a 150% basal rate in action. But I had no issue with ketones, thankfully, despite the fact that my lower-carb food plan got shoved to the back burner, as I haven't had the energy to stick to it and have been relying on my chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers, orange juice, and toast as my meal staples.
The bottom line is that diabetes wasn't the core problem here. Rather, I've been down with a common but nasty cold that's made me feel miserable. But I've not had any dramatic symptoms like vomiting, so eating and drinking have not been issues.
Yet somehow Dr. New couldn't seem to grasp this the other day, and it took my almost standing up and leaving the room for her to finally let out a big sigh and just test me for the sickness at hand.
In that appointment, I opted not to use the phrase "Real Person Sick," a term I've been using for several years now after hearing it first used by Kerri Sparling many moons ago. No, instead, I just kept it simple and just kept insisting that she take a cheek swab to check for strep throat.
Her verdict: Just a head cold, and one on the way out. No need for alarm, stronger meds or anything more than what I've been doing on my own. Alrighty then.
A couple days later, as I'm writing this, I'm still sneezing regularly and there's even more of that congested feeling in my chest, with my body trying to cough it all up. Yep, good stuff. But hey, there's no temp anymore. And my blood sugars are coming down.
I do get that being real-person sick, on top of diabetes, can be a serious issue at times -- and you can find all kinds of medically official resources out there offering info and tips about Sick Day Management for Diabetes. But that's not always the first line of defense for someone like me, who's been dealing with type 1 for more than three decades now, and is pretty good at telling the difference. Rarely does any typical illness come along that I haven't faced before (with the notable exception of the recent stomach bug in the Dominican Republic). So, none of those resources is what I needed... and I didn't need this doc trying to cram them down my throat (no pun intended).
What bothers me most about this is how this doctor just didn't seem to listen. I recognize that she's a medical professional with a degree, but there has to be some level of mutual understanding and respect here. That maybe, just maybe, as a lifetime type 1 I might just know if the symptoms I'm experiencing are D-related or not. And sometimes, I know just what I need from you and your medical training.