When you got the news that you have diabetes, it was probably during a brief visit with your doctor. If you were lucky, he or she may have told you the most important things that you will have to do to manage it well.
But you were probably in shock, and nobody could blame you for missing what your doctor said. You need to be prepared for the next appointment, and here is what you need to ask.
When I see a doctor, my first question is, “How much time do we have for this appointment?” Our doctors tend to dominate the time that we have together, so asking this will give put him or her on notice that you have your own questions.
Consider yourself lucky if your appointment is for 20 minutes. I still remember when in 1994 a doctor told me I had diabetes. I didn’t know a thing about it and started to ask him questions. But he cut me off, saying that my appointment was limited to 14 minutes.
You can read dozens of websites that will list the 10 or more questions for you to ask your doctor. That’s nonsense! You will be lucky to have time to ask more than one of them and get a solid answer. In my experience, your doctor will go on and on in answering your first question, getting into details that you aren’t ready to understand yet.
When you get this procedural question out of the way, here are the next substantive questions you must ask your doctor. Because of the limited time you might have with your doctor, you’ve got to prioritize them, and these have the highest priority.
How You Can Get the Support You Need
The second question to ask is if your doctor will support your low-carb diet. Not all doctors have given up their fear of fat that we need in abundance when we consume little or no starch or sugar, which raises our blood sugar.
We need more help than we can get from our doctor. But many doctors work with a Certified Diabetes Educator, a CDE, and/or a dietitian who will give you the time you need. So the third most important question is whether your doctor works with or knows of a CDE or a dietitian (or both), who will be sympathetic to your needs.
How to Control Your Diabetes
Your next pair of substantive questions is about checking your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar leads to the complications of uncontrolled diabetes that you absolutely must avoid. If your A1C is higher than about 9.0, your doctor will undoubtedly prescribe medicine to bring it down to normal. If you are lucky, he or she will show you how to take regular injections of insulin, which is clearly the quickest way. And when you start to avoid those carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar level, unless you have type 1 diabetes, you will be able to stop using insulin.
The fourth question is, “What blood sugar meter system should I get?” This is the only gadget that you must have and use to manage your diabetes. You need to get a prescription from your doctor for one of these meters and test strips that the formulary of your health insurance covers. You will likely have a choice of two systems, so ask your doctor which one he or she recommends.
Finally, ask your doctor when you should check your blood sugar levels. The answer needs to include what your testing goals before and after meals should be, how you can reach those goals, and how many times a day you need to check your blood sugar. When your meter system tells you that your sugar level is too high, it’s almost always because of what you ate. You will know what to change in your diet.
What If You Don’t Get Answers?
Don’t be surprised if you don’t get satisfactory answers to all of your questions during this appointment. If you like and respect your doctor and if he or she seems to be giving you the support that you need, make another appointment to get the answers that you have got to get.
See more of my articles about how to manage diabetes:
David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.