An Eye for Empathy and Encouragement of Diabetic Patients

Amylia Grace Yeaman Health Guide
  • "You're eyes look perfect, even better than last time! You're doing a great job managing your diabetes!," the opthamologist said.


    As the tears welled up in my hugely dilated eyes, I embraced the big ol' lump in my throat and thanked the doctor for the good news and told him how important it is to hear that I'm doing something RIGHT everyone once ina while instead of having doctors fixated only on what needs tweaking and ignoring the very human need of reinforcment, encouragement and support (something I rarely get from endocrinologists or my health care professionals).


    "I know how hard it is to manage diabetes when you're trying to do the job of your pancreas," the doc continued. "We tend to look big picture and take a long view of your health and overall trends instead of focusing on the short term. You've had diabetes for 24 years and you're obviously doing a lot of things right!"

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    It was the first time a doctor had ever said such thing to me. His acknowledgment of my hard work made me feel good. Usually, I go to my endocrinologist appointments with a certain degree of dread, fearing I'm going to be called ont he carpet for not being perfect, for not having a lower A1C, and for not being within the ideal height/weight range--something I've battled since my twenties.


    The thing is, I'm working harder than I ever have, and it shows. Maybe not on the scale. Maybe not in every glucose test, but in the overall trends and numbers, it shows. I've had several days without a single high blood sugar, something I didn't really believe was possible, but the numbers tell a different story.


    While I longed for a pat on the back or some support from my endocrinologist or diabetes nurse, the encouragement was not there. But the opthamologist was another story. As much as I dread going to the eye doctor, there is something about opthamologists that at least in my experience renders them more empathetic and understanding of just what it takes to live long-term as a type 1 diabetic. Even the best insulin, the best insulin pump, the most vigilant of diabetics and doctors pale in comparison to a fully functioning pancreas. Most of my opthamologists got that and commend me on the work I am doing to take care of myself.


    While complications are something I fear and I still am afraid before each eye appointment, I am beginning to relax a little and look forward to the interactions I have with the opthamologists in my life. 


    Has anyone else has similar experiences with opthamologists or other doctors? 


    *Note:*  Dr. Stephen R. Russell at University of Iowa Hospital& Clinics is my opthamologist and the doctor referenced in this SharePost.

Published On: April 30, 2013