There are people and processes outside your doctors who can greatly impact your diabetes health. Try connecting with these for better health outcomes.
Dear friends. How are you? Is your diabetes behaving?
Actually, I think you will agree that this can definitely vary depending on our given circumstances. You could be rolling along just fine, and then there’s a change of insurance, the process at a doctor’s office, a huge life event, or a world turned upside down.
But there is one constant, unwavering issue that all of us with diabetes have in common: diabetes never gives us a break for anything. Not for any reason. Ever. We have to continue on. Even during pandemics and much needed, overdue social change because we have this thing called diabetes constantly reminding us that it needs our attention. NOW. And I think you will also agree with me that we must pay attention in order to come from a place of healthy strength, not depletion, or else the rest of our care may well domino into chaos.
But…if you’re like me, you’re just so tired of this never-ending grind and all the grueling unknowns. I get it.
A Rude Awakening
Last week, my husband saw me struggling, once again, with getting my new insurance company, medical group, mail order pharmacy, and my doctor’s office to get their act together and TALK to each other. I’m over 1 month into trying to get my insulin pump and CGM supplies approved/covered/ordered and I tell you….
Well if you have diabetes, you KNOW what I’m talking about without me even having to say it.
Anyway, my empathetic husband said, “Give me the information and I will do this for you. I will get it done right now. This is ridiculous. I will handle it for you today.” I thought to myself, should I subject him to the “horrors” that are approval and reimbursement? Should I?? I love this guy, but by then, I was so worn down with this process that I decided I would share my burden and hand over the information with, sort of, a guilty conscience. Why? Because I had previously spared him this piece of my diabetes management and I knew the storm he would be entering.
Flash forward 5 days…
He came out of his office after yet ANOTHER 1 hour hold time and subsequent conversation with an incredulous and extremely frustrated look on his face. He began pacing the floor with exclamations of “Ridiculous! Crazy! Unprofessional!” and a few other adjectives and expletives to describe his plight.
As I sat in my recliner and sipped my glass of wine I said, “Welcome to the other side Babe.”
But, I also think he needed to experience this process for himself. Aside from being my husband, best friend, and essential diabetes “team member,” he needs to understand the whole ugly truth of it all. And, I have to say, he is getting it done, bit by grueling bit. We shall see. As we all know, we might get back to square one at any given moment. I feel guilty and grateful at the same time.
Diabetes permeates every single layer and aspect of our individual lives and that often includes not only family members, friends and our health care team. It regularly includes some other less obvious, but nonetheless important, people and processes. And as my husband and I are currently experiencing, this often starts with 2 different types of office protocols.
Whether it’s 1) an efficient, well run and streamlined process, or 2) an abysmal, overwhelmed office staff set up with too much responsibility with no sense of urgency, or dealing with a poor grasp of technology to help them organize and prioritize their back-office protocol, it’s just the way it is. And it can have a huge impact on how you manage your diabetes. This critical first step in setting up your management routine must be made in this often chaotic environment.
So what can we do about this reality? If I’m being honest here, this singular piece of my diabetes puzzle is one of the most important. If a physician and office staff knows how to work with insurance companies and pharmacies, a huge burden is often lifted from my shoulders. I’ve dealt with both types of office processes and let me tell you, a streamlined and supportive office protocol makes my diabetes management way less of a struggle and gives me more support at the root of my care.
Power In Personal Connection
What other diabetes processes do we all deal with beyond our healthcare team?
I thought about all the different aspects of how I set up my own management while trying to deal with just having diabetes in the first place. One of the most important things I have found in my 31 years of type 1 diabetes is to make a personal connection with anyone involved with your care. This includes names, emails, direct phone extensions, etc.
Delivery services: If possible, get to know, by name, the delivery people who provide your medical supplies and medication on a regular basis. If you can’t catch them in person, perhaps you could leave a note telling him/her that you appreciate them and that they are bringing life-saving products to your doorstep. And that you are grateful for their service. Not only do these people rarely get shown appreciation, but it also puts a human touch to the name they see on the package.
Your walk-in pharmacist: When picking up your diabetes supplies at the pharmacy, take a couple of minutes to notice their name tag and introduce yourself to them by name. Yes, I know that they are very busy and you must be brief. But again, saying “Thanks John, see you later!” can go a LONG way in making a personal, human connection.
The nurse/person who calls in your refills at your physician’s office: Find out who makes those important calls and see if there is any way that they have the time to meet you. Show them appreciation and thank them for introducing themselves as the all-important “point person” at the office. if at all possible, see if they have an email that they would be willing to share (this might come later as they get to know you better). Consider sending a card or gift card during the holidays (this goes a long way too). I have gone so far as to give kudos to the supervisors of these hard-working folks. Why not let the supervisors know that their employees gave you good customer service? Again, simple kindness and appreciation can go a long long way.
Diabetes Mental Health
Don’t forget your mental well-being! Diabetes not only encompasses our physical health but as you are well aware, it often parallels our mental health as well. I’m so encouraged to see that the healthcare community is now embracing this critical aspect of our care.
Our diabetes mental attitude can be affected by many things including our financial situation, access to critical management tools that we need, guilt over our financial burden, other health issues, judgmental healthcare team, insurance issues as well as diabetes complications that might become a major issue at some point. And of course, life in general colored by management of a chronic, random health condition is no picnic. It’s all just so…well…complex.
So it could be that finding a mental support system and incorporating it into your everyday management might be a good way to dilute your fears and emotions, as well as sharing your victories with others who truly get it and will celebrate along with you. There are quite a few online communities that you might take advantage of. Perhaps your CDE or physician’s office offers support groups or other ways to connect locally. Obviously, right now, that most likely means a virtual gathering, but hey, there’s something to be said about connecting with others while sitting on your couch wearing fuzzy slippers! Whatever it takes, right?
Hang in there and stay safe dear tribe members.