Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.  

Do you ever wish your diabetes treatment plan was a little more personalized and that your doctor could take a more active role in your care?

There are many factors when it comes to diabetes management that can make it difficult for your doctor to know exactly what you may need personalized in your treatment plan. While, we would all like to place the blame somewhere else when our diabetes management plan is lacking, in reality the responsibility is ours to make sure that our doctor is playing an active role in our treatment by communicating our needs effectively.

Tips for Better Communication with Your Doctor

Communication goes both ways and the first key is to make sure the doctor is willing to communicate openly back once you express your concerns. If you are struggling to communicate effectively with your doctor, here are a few tips that may help open up the communication channel and make it easier for both you and your doctor to work together to improve your health.

· Tell your doctor what your average day is like so they can better understand your lifestyle needs. Make sure they know what kinds of activities you are involved in and how supportive your friends and family are. This will help them make suggestions for adjustments in medications and treatment that cater to your particular lifestyle.

· Make sure you express ALL of your concerns. Don’t just accept what the doctor says or prescribes if you are uncomfortable with it. Don’t be afraid to let them know when something isn’t working as well as you would like or when you feel like there needs to be a change. They can’t help you make improvements in your care if they don’t know how you really feel or what is and isn’t working for you — regardless of what the numbers say.

· In order to avoid confusion at your appointment write down your questions before you go. With so much information to cover in each appointment it can be hard to remember everything you have concerns about. It will also help to know what your numbers are and your recent blood sugar patterns. That way you will understand better what the doctor is talking about and where adjustments need to be made.

· Don’t leave the doctor’s office confused about your treatment. If you don’t understand something, have the doctor explain it over and over until they are saying it in terms you understand. You need to understand what is happening in your body and how the recommended treatment will help. You won’t be able to get control of your diabetes management until you understand it thoroughly.

· Last, and most importantly, you need to take an active role in your treatment. Even if you are good at communicating with your doctor, if you don’t really know what is going on with your treatment plan, you won’t be able to communicate your needs because you won’t know what those needs are. Once you decide to be in control of your diabetes management you will have much better information to take to your doctor, which in turn will allow them to recommend better resources for you.

Diabetes is a very personal disease. It is up to you to take action to get the personalized treatment and respect from your doctor that you need and deserve.