I Am the Expert
I have long held the belief that the person who has lived with a chronic disease like type 2 diabetes should and does know more about it than the professionals. That is as it should be. I’m the one living with the disease. I know how it affects me now and how it has affected me in the past. I have the knowledge and expertise to make safe, hopefully educated, decisions.
Credentials are not the same as wisdom or experience
In the early days after diagnosis, we are learning about something new, something foreign. In the case of type 2 diabetes, we are learning about how everything we do affects our numbers and what that means to our body and mind. So we eagerly listen to the healthcare provider (HCP) and we learn from them. They have the knowledge that perhaps we do not. We are new to all of this. As time goes on, there is a transformation. We take that knowledge they have shared and we use it. Very often, we then reach out for more information beyond the sources we started with, beyond the HCP. We may begin to alter what we now know based on what else we learn from other sources. Is it because the original information offered, although solid and evidence-based, isn’t a fit for our values, our lifestyle or our beliefs? Possibility. Sometimes it is because we learn that the HCP is not on the same page as we are. I believe that HCPs need to teach not only the research, the facts, and the evidence, they need to teach the application. They have to be able to adapt the information to the person and the person’s life. I have been in situations where the HCP offered really valuable information or suggested really great equipment…if I weren’t working, if I were self-employed, if I had the funds. In my life, I am working, I am not self-employed, I have a boss, a schedule, obligations. If the advice offered fits into the often narrow margins I have during my work day then yes it would be helpful. If it doesn’t, then even the best advice based on the best research isn’t useful. I saw this tweet on Twitter that caught my attention:
“Slowly we begin to learn that credentials are not the same as wisdom or experience. People are waking up to the fact that…experts are often detached from reality and their knowledge of specialized field can act as an obstacle to their understanding.”
Now that can sound pretty critical of professionals depending on your read. I have met some over the years who missed the mark. They didn’t know who I was. Here’s an example unrelated to diabetes. When my daughter, our first child, was 6 months old and ready to start solid foods, I had a doctor who told me he “knew I wanted the best for my baby” so he told me that I “didn’t want to give her jarred baby food. (His) wife made all their baby food”. I left the office feeling like a bad mom. Then my brain started ticking: your wife is a stay at home mom, I am a working mom; your wife wants to make baby food, I do not; and there’s nothing wrong with jarred baby foods. He didn’t know me. He put his opinion ON me rather than asking me if that suggestion would work FOR me.
When it comes to my diabetes, I love my HCPs. They are amazing and supportive. When it comes to my diabetes, however, I am the expert.