My Diabetes Team—My Family Physician and the Cardiologist
Last updated: June 2023
I was diagnosed in 2005 during Diabetes Awareness Month, November. The diagnosis was delivered by my family physician’s (FP) office. I was booked in shortly thereafter to find out what it all meant. In the mean time, I went online. I went to reputable sites, authoritative sites. The Canadian Diabetes Association and the American Diabetes Association offered a lot of information to get me started. The appointment with my doctor went very well. We talked about the test results. We talked about weight loss and how that would help. He talked to me about getting exercise. He suggested walking. The plan was also to refer me to the Diabetic Education Centre where I would get access to Certified Diabetic Educators (CDE) that were both RN’s and RD's. They offer classes so I could to learn all about type 2 diabetes. That sounded good but I had one big question in my mind. What role would my FP play now that I had diabetes? I’ve had a long standing relationship with him. I trust him. My goodness, he delivered my last child! I was concerned I may be referred out. It’s not that I didn’t trust other doctors. I just couldn’t handle anything more new at the time. My FP is one very smart man. He has an amazing knowledge base. We agreed he’d stay the quarterback of my diabetes care.
In 2013 things began to change for me. This was 8 years after my diagnosis. I had managed my diabetes for 8 years with just diet and exercise but I couldn’t do it any longer. I lost my motivation. I had diabetes burnout. It was time for medication. My doctor knew a lot about the common drugs available for treatment. I was scared and reluctant at the same time. We tried a few different ones but either my tolerance or my lack of compliance gave out. He supported me through the tough times. He referred me to the ‘high risk’ Diabetic Education Centre in the hopes that they would be able to assist but that didn’t work out well for me. The ‘push’ was for insulin which neither he nor I felt I was ready for. He told me he had exhausted what he could do. I can say with all honesty, I got the best care ever for twelve years. It was time for me to have a couple of new doctors on my team. I was referred to both a cardiologist and the endocrinologist.
The first appointment was with the cardiologist. In case you weren’t aware, when doctors or CDEs talk about diabetes, they also talk about the impact on our heart. With type 2 diabetes we are at higher risk than the rest of the population for heart issues because of what diabetes can do to our bodies. I was very nervous about going to a cardiologist. Although I understood why I was going, I was still afraid of what he would talk to me about and after doing the stress test, what he may find. Add to that, my FP had sorta warned me that this doc was a ‘straight shooter.’ My FP is an upbeat, always positive kind of doctor. The message was “He’s not me” but he’s a really good doctor. It was time to put on my big girl pants. As it turned out, the stress test went fine. My heart was fine. He offered some really good advice and gave me some good nutrition tips. The straight shooter part was around a couple of things. I’m a pretty precise person when it comes to my health history. This doctor asks questions but wants an answer now, don’t think about it, just answer. He was impatient. That was a bit stressful but in hindsight made me laugh. You can’t have an answer until I figure out what I need to say. The other straight shooter part was in regards to the meds he wanted to add to my pill box. The message was “I’m the specialist, here’s what you will do.” Yes he’s the specialist but all three doctors are on my team and all have input, as I do. So I will ask for second and third opinions. No harm there. What was really unexpected for me was what he shared with me, a couple things I didn’t expect. He’s diabetic. The endocrinologist I haven’t met yet, is also his endocrinologist. He walks the talk. He gave me the option to see him again in a year and become my cardiologist now. I couldn’t have asked for a better visit. Yup, you’re on my team!
I think I’ll leave it here for now. Shortly I’ll write about my other doctor, the endocrinologist. Hope you can come back for another read.
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