Monday, March 31, 2014

Balancing Act

Recently the diabetic specialist I had been seeing on a regular basis decided to retire. I was told that a new specialist would take her place. However, after the new doctor tried things out at that diabetic clinic for a month, she quit. It was then I decided to take matters into my own hands and find myself a new doctor, one that was hopefully a little closer to home.This task proved to be rather complicated as I had to consider the limitations of our insurance (it will only cover certain, PPO approved physicians,) and the fact that I am an odd duck--a Type 1 diabetic on an insulin pump. As such, I had to find someone who was comfortable handling an insulin pump patient. (Most diabetics are Type 2 and control things with diet, exercise, oral meds, etc.)

I searched the internet for a physician that would satisfy everyone's requirements. After a few days of sorting through endless lists, I narrowed it down to an individual that seemed to stand out. He was on our insurance roster as an approved doctor--and when I called to talk to the nice receptionist, she assured me that he was taking new patients and he had worked with other insulin pump dependent diabetics. Also, he was a D.O.--the type of doctor my youngest son is seeking to become.(Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.) From what I've learned through experience, and what my son has taught me, D.O.'s tend to be very patient friendly. Also, they are trained to use the best of Western and Eastern medicine. This is extremely cool. =)

Deciding I had struck pay-dirt, I told the receptionist that I would like to lock this doctor in as my new diabetic specialist. That's when I was told that this particular doctor likes to look through files and decide which patients he is willing to add to his clientele. Ah. This was new. Not only was I evaluating him, but he would be going through the same process with me. Interesting.

The next day I received a phone call and was informed that I had been accepted as a patient. I did the dance of joy, hoping this was a good change. About a week later, my husband and I drove to Logan and met up with my new specialist. It was a good experience, even though my A1C test was a little higher than it should've been. (The test that reveals the average blood sugar level for the past 3 months.) Because of that, I was told that I needed to meet with the office dietician--a bright young man that the nurses and my new doctor highly recommended. I still pouted. I mean, seriously? I've been a Type 1 diabetic since I was the tender age of 19. After ten years . . . (Kidding. My 30-year-old son informed me last year that I can no longer be 29. Sigh . . .) okay . . . after 33 years, I think I know what I'm doing . . . most of the time. ;) I knew my blood sugar levels had been bouncing for a couple of months. It's the time of year when my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) acts up (compliments of the wacky weather) and with the inflammation comes increased blood sugar levels. It's just how my silly body rolls. Everything (and I do mean everything) affects blood sugar levels. Pain, heat, cold, illnesses, exercise, carbs consumed, etc. It proves to be quite the balancing act, and something I live with every day. True character building moments. Back to my story:

After silently protesting, I decided to be a sport. I reasoned that this was a new start . . . a big change. And maybe the dietician could help me get things balanced. On the other hand . . . I've been counting carbs for years--what more was there to learn? I soon found out. About two weeks later, I met with the dietician. I had been asked to keep track of everything during the preceding two weeks: Basal rates, insulin boluses, meals consumed, exercise, the works. I found the old charting graphs I had used when I first became a pump patient and after making copies, I used them to record all of this lovely information.

My mother went with me to this appointment. She was curious about what this new dietician could possibly teach me about diabetes, something we've already established that I've lived with for a gracious long time. An hour and a half later, my mind was reeling with new information. It turns out that things have changed . . . a lot within the past five years. I left the clinic that day so excited, I could barely contain myself. And as everyone had said, the dietician was awesome. He was upbeat, encouraging, and didn't put me on a guilt trip over days when my levels were less than impressive. Instead, he praised my efforts and then used entertaining props to help me understand what my silly body is doing these days.

Later that night, I had to call my oldest son, who is becoming a dietician, and shared my new-found enthusiasm. He understood everything I had learned and told me that it has been amazing what has been discovered about diabetes in recent times. He was excited that I had stumbled onto a doctor and a dietician that make a great team. Though the past few weeks have been challenging (we're in the process of changing basal rates--the insulin levels that drip in continuously from my insulin pump) to get things to balance out, I know it will all be worth it. Eventually, we'll have things stream-lined and I will likely be in better shape than I've been in for a long time.

So I'm realizing . . . again . . . that change is important. It's how we learn, grow, and better ourselves in this crazy world. We weren't meant to exist in a state of constant bliss in an environment that stays the same. We need to be flexible enough to "ride the waves," as they come into our lives and glean those things that will make a positive difference. Though I tend to fall off my "surfboard" . . . a lot (yep, I am a descendant of the dude who fell off the Mayflower--John Howland) I'm learning how crucial it is to keep trying, knowing that someday, the balance I'm seeking will be attained and I will be a better person as a result.

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