There’s no denying that working with the healthcare establishment can be frustrating sometimes. If you haven’t experienced your own frustrations, spend some time cruising though the discussions on Diabetic Connect, and you’ll often run into fellow members posting about their frustrations about their doctors. Doctors that don’t listen, or that don’t seem concerned, or that give them advice that doesn’t make sense, if they take the time to give them any advice at all.
First, I am not saying that all physicians are perfect. They are human beings, so that’s impossible. I am also not saying that they are all created equal. Some are more competent, more patient-focused, or better communicators than others.
But I would also like to take a moment and focus on that word, frustration. Diabetes is one of those health conditions that seems to bring a lot of frustration. Diets that seem totally unrealistic and, even when you follow them, may not be working. Numbers that fluctuate all over the place. Exercise routines that are hard to follow. Family members that just don’t get it. And then that doctor…
What I am saying is that there are lots of reasons for a diabetic to be frustrated. Lots of valid reasons. But I would also like to point out one of the main reasons for frustration: feeling out of control. If there is one thing that doesn't sit well with us human beings, it is not being in control. Not that we are every really in control, but we like to at least think that we are. And so when we see contrary evidence, like our weight or our numbers not being what we think they should be, and what we thought they would be, then that pushes all of those lack of control buttons.
Lack of control equals frustration.
When we feel out of control, we want a reason why. And it is only natural to look outside of ourselves for that reason. As a result, we may also want to strike out at whatever or whomever seems to be getting in the way and taking our control away. That’s a normal reaction.
That brings us back to the doctor. Now I am not walking in your shoes. Doctors don’t always do their jobs as well as they could or should. But neither do us patients.
However, I would encourage you to do a couple of things.
First, use some mindfulness in how you approach your frustration. Stand back and mentally pull yourself out of that “who’s to blame” story. That means not only not placing blame on somebody else for how you are feeling, but also not placing blame on yourself. It’s just not productive.
And then mentally shift your perspective on your doctor. Right now, he/she seems kind of incompetent and unhelpful to you. If that is your view, is going to affect how you work with together (or don’t work together), and how you think about him/her. Your attitude will leak out into your interactions, and that isn’t going to make for a good working relationship.
Instead, assume that your doctor knows what he/she is doing, want sto help you, and maybe needs some more information and encouragement from you to help them to do their job. In other words, envision them as helpful professionals who are on YOUR side and on YOUR team. Think of yourself and your doctor, as well as other members of your healthcare team, as WE — with every member contributing — instead of me versus him, her, or them. Mindfulness helps us to create an objective mindset which, in turn, helps us to evaluate our healthcare professionals for who they are and what they bring to us, and not get caught up in personality and other factors that might be secondary to their professional qualifications.
In other words, stand back, observe, interact… without an agenda like deciding who the bad guy is.
I know this isn't easy when you are feeling disappointed and out of control. But a little shift in perspective can make a big difference.
Here’s another idea. Sit down and make a list of what you think you are doing right in your diabetic self-care, as well as any questions you might have. Make a list of what you think isn't going well, e.g. weight gain.
Ask your doctor or someone else on your healthcare team to sit down with you, review your self-care strategy, and see if there is anything that might be slipping through cracks. Let them know of any challenges you have, e.g. diet or exercise, and ask for suggestions. And even ask how you can be a better partner. You might also ask to speak with a CDE or a nurse who can give you some additional coaching.
I am not saying that you should stick with a doctor that you feel is not someone you can or should work with. But I am suggesting that using some mindfulness – and taking yourself out of the blame game – is a good way to make a rational, informed decision about whom you want on your team.
Any experiences in getting beyond the blame game and teaming up with your doctor? How did you do it? Share the wealth!
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