Diabetes Awareness Should Begin with Medical Professionals
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Profile photo of Lizmari Collazo

Recently, I’ve changed medical teams. The free clinic we had in town has closed shop, and I now must attend the local sliding scale fee clinic. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I may receive affordable health insurance – but as I still have a lot of past medical bills – I am blackballed from attending the local major medical complex, which has a monopoly of care in town. This is a reality for many people living with chronic health conditions and in need of balancing financial obligations and supporting a spouse or a family. I don’t have children – but I support my spouse, who also has diabetes.

This means I really don’t have much of a choice in who I see to help manage my diabetes, while I slowly chip away at those bills. It means I must deal with whatever else there is – and often that means people who have a limited health knowledge base, but the ego of a specialist. And I hate talking to those kinds of people. They can never be wrong about anything – and don’t you try to correct them. Those are the kinds of people who assume all sorts of things about you… including hypochondria!

Whenever I have to meet up with a new medical professional of this nature, I feel like I must explain myself to them, as a child must explain herself to a parent after breaking a vase.

They assume that …

  • I am ignorant and don’t know anything about diabetes;
  • That people with diabetes are out of control, and since I’m not out of control, I therefore must not have it, or mine must be mild and not as serious. The PA who saw me argued with me over this! I must not really be diabetic, or I must be ‘pre’ or not have it ‘as bad.’ So I must be killing over with high blood sugar before she’ll take me seriously? Are you kidding me?!
  • That since I am still overweight, I must not take my health seriously – the PA who saw me literally asked me “what do you have to say for yourself?” – You know, I have not lost weight quickly, or efficiently enough, but normal glucose levels? That counts for nothing!
  • I’m not capable of change, of learning new things, or in the ‘know’ about diabetes medications and choices. I trust science – but I am *always* going to have a choice as to what medication I’ll pursue, if I can help it;
  • That they are the authority, and I have no say and should follow without question;
  • I am not worthy of knowledge about my condition, because I will not care about it, or get bogged down about it, or understand anything about it…
  • That I have a low level of education, particularly at a sliding scale clinic, or else I wouldn’t need a sliding scale clinic; etc.

And this is why we need advocacy. We NEED advocacy – and often the people who need advocacy shoved their way the most, are not the regular persons out there – but those very same clinicians who complain we’re not doing our part; that later get on TV and encourage the use of video of someone’s large rear end, while complaining about the diabetes epidemic. Those people who don’t respect the human equation of diabetes – and human dignity. Often, talking to these kinds of individuals is beyond frustrating to me as a person… because they either don’t know anything about the diabetes online community, about patient advocates, or bloggers, or don’t care to know – taking away any credence from those of us who (while not professionals) are indeed, the experts at living with this.

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