If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Blame Game

The Blame Game Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another.  And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault.  Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger.  Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had.  Now, the game part.  Let’s turn this around.  If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself?   

Just over two years ago, I wrote a post called Advocacy and Doctors where I discussed the need to advocate for your Type 1 child while in the hospital, or at a doctor visit. 

Within that post is a story about a lecture I received from a pediatrician because my son's last A1C was 7.1.

While I always strive for something below 7.0, I know I am below the global recommended standard. No matter how much our endocrinologist would sing our praises for this number, I always want a better result.

Yes, I know that as a diabetic my son risks heart disease, loosing eyesight, neuropathy, loosing a foot, shorter life span and all other kinds of complications if this is not managed. Exaggerated? Maybe yes, maybe no. Believe me, I know that this is the reality if I do not manage his blood sugar well.

As today's Blog Week topic description suggests, we should turn that around. What would I have them say that would have left me feeling empowered and good? 

Difficult question. I think a good doctor knows that diabetes is not just a one way conversation. I don't think this doctor is necessarily a bad doctor, but I think he just got caught up in his doctorness. After all, people go to the doctor to get prescribed treatment by an expert. In this case, we were actually there for that reason for suspected strep throat.

In chronic disease, this conversation changes. A patient (or caretaker) that has been dealing with diabetes for several years becomes an expert on their own care. We never wanted to, but we have to be the expert. Perhaps the best way to turn that discussion around is to have an open dialogue and work with a patient instead of telling them what to do, or reprimanding them.

As a wellness coach, I empower people by allowing them to set their own goals around their own wellness vision. Throughout this process, I spend more time listening than talking. Perhaps a coaching approach to work with a patient to understand what actions will get them closer to a more desirable A1C would help. 

Our very first endocrinologist would always ask me "Well, what do you think?", long before I really had any opinions or knowledge about diabetes care. At the time I thought it was crazy, but now I realize why he did that. I am a much better caretaker for his coaching approach.

Since that was not happening at this doctor visit, and the previous visits had a similar tone, I worried that my son would pick up on it. Continuously feeling scolded or ridiculed for medical results would probably make him feel bad about his diabetes. This thing is challenging enough without that. I want him to embrace it as much he can - that is age appropriate of course - and feel he is supported so that someday he will confidently take the reigns. 

But that day, I didn't waste any more time thinking about the doctor's tone. I didn't get defensive because this was not the first time. Rather than wishing the discussion were different on that day, I empowered myself. 

In life, we have choices. There is nothing more empowering in life than knowing that we can choose. 

That day that I decided to change doctors. My son's new pediatrician gives us advice, but it is delivered in a much more holistic way rather than just a one way negative message.

Disease doesn't give a lot of choices. No one ever chooses to be diabetic, but we can empower ourselves in other ways. That day I felt so much lighter knowing that I made the healthy choice that will ultimately empower my son.


  1. Glad to have found your blog during Diabetes Blog Week :)

    1. Thank you Brian! I look forward to reading yours as well!

  2. Yes, I love what you said about having an open dialogue with a patient rather than telling them what to do.

    1. It is true.. and I think most doctors generally know this, but it is easier said than done.. It is the basis of a lot of presentations I give to doctors.. patients are so much more than just an A1C.. Thank you for reading!

  3. You have to do what you feel is right for your son - even changing physicians.

    1. Ya.. it took me a few times of "something is not right here" to actually pinpoint it.. This new pedi is good too, and he does have some understanding of diabetes which is nice.. and the beautiful part is it is never condescending! Thank you for reading!

  4. Pam, this is such an important message for everyone! We do have to advocate for ourselves (or loved ones). You do this beautifully. Your son is lucky to have you as are we, your readers! Thank you for such a wonderful post!

    1. Thank you so much April! Regardless of the situation, advocating for yourself is so important! This dialogue between doctor and patient is key to setting the patient up for success.

  5. Well done you! Hopefully this is the start of a more positive path to managing your son's treatment.

  6. Hi Pam, you have sent an important message for your readers, and made a right choice for your son. Doctors and patients are equal and it is important to have an open conversation instead of just instructing patients. Thanks for such an empowering post! - Erin Knight