Having the right support makes all the difference.
Type 1 diabetes management can get reduced to insulin management and blood sugar checks, but controlling all aspects of diabetes requires a troop of medical support. This is not a job for your primary care doc alone.
“Diabetes is not treated by just having one practitioner,” says Liz Van Voorhis, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 15. According to the American Diabetes Association, a typical type 1 diabetes patient should see specialists in endocrinology, vision, diabetes education, nutrition, foot health, dentistry—and the list goes on.
Making room for those new medical experts in your life can be overwhelming, but they’re there to make your life easier and, importantly, healthier. Here’s what these patients have learned about building a strong team for treating type 1 diabetes (and how to make their visits more effective).
Go beyond the endocrinologist
“I typically see my endocrinologist about every three months. … I want to make sure I’m having my blood tested—a fasting blood test—so they can check my A1C, which is super important. I see an eye doctor once a year to get a dilated retina exam. I typically will see a podiatrist once every couple of years, although I know I should probably see the podiatrist once a year.
“Another thing I think is really important that a lot of my friends and the people who I know who are diabetic don’t think much about is our hearing. As diabetics, we’re actually twice as likely to have hearing loss than our non-diabetic peers. So I make sure I have my hearing tested once a year as well.”
—Craig Kasper, diagnosed at age 27
Know what’s important to you
“I see all my specialists once a year, and I try to cluster my visits around my birthday. It makes it an easy way to remember.
“I find the most important thing working with my doctors is really communicating what’s important to me, because if they don’t know, it’s hard for them to help me. I think it makes the whole visit better.”
—Riva Greenberg, diagnosed at age 18
Make sure your doctor is a true partner
“Over the last 10 or so years, I’ve really learned that having a good endocrinologist that is a partner and not just a doctor is incredibly important. … I’m not looking for somebody who wants to see me once or twice a year, share my blood sugars, and that’s it. I’m looking for somebody who is willing to talk with me in between.
“I’ve been very fortunate that both of my endocrinologists in recent years are type 1 diabetics themselves, and I think that that really makes a big difference in how they care for their patients, and their empathy and understanding of what it’s like to live with diabetes.”
—Liz Van Voorhis, diagnosed at age 15
For more real talk from patients, here are common myths about type 1 diabetes, how to prevent low blood sugar, and tips for getting through the day with type 1 diabetes.
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Diabetes is not treated by
just having one practitioner.
00:00:05,990 --> 00:00:12,151
00:00:12,151 --> 00:00:14,052
I have a comprehensive healthcare team and
00:00:14,052 --> 00:00:18,210
they're constantly checking in on me,
making sure I'm as healthy as possible.
00:00:18,210 --> 00:00:20,800
I typically see my endocrinologist
about every three months and
00:00:20,800 --> 00:00:24,190
the reason why I do that is
because I wanna make sure that I'm
00:00:24,190 --> 00:00:27,160
having my blood tested,
a fasting blood test.
00:00:27,160 --> 00:00:30,287
So they can check my HbA1c,
which is super important.
00:00:30,287 --> 00:00:33,700
I see an eye doctor once a year
to get a dilated retina exam.
00:00:33,700 --> 00:00:36,340
I typically will see a podiatrist
once every couple of years,
00:00:36,340 --> 00:00:39,152
although I know I should probably
see the podiatrist once a year.
00:00:39,152 --> 00:00:43,182
And then another thing that I think is
really important that a lot of my friends
00:00:43,182 --> 00:00:47,390
and people who I know who are diabetic
don't think much about is our hearing.
00:00:47,390 --> 00:00:48,490
Because as diabetics,
00:00:48,490 --> 00:00:52,402
we're actually twice as likely to have
hearing loss than our non-diabetic peers.
00:00:52,402 --> 00:00:54,830
So I make sure I get my
hearing test in once a year,
00:00:54,830 --> 00:00:57,693
So I see all my specialists once a year
00:00:57,693 --> 00:01:00,895
and I try to cluster my
visits around my birthday,
00:01:00,895 --> 00:01:05,208
it makes an easy way to remember.
Over the last ten or so years,
00:01:05,208 --> 00:01:10,846
I've really learned that having a good
endocrinologist that is a partner and
00:01:10,846 --> 00:01:14,360
not just a doctor is incredibly important.
00:01:14,360 --> 00:01:18,815
Cuz I'm not looking for somebody who
wants to see me once or twice a year,
00:01:18,815 --> 00:01:21,163
share my blood sugars and that's it.
00:01:21,163 --> 00:01:26,030
I'm looking for somebody who is
willing to talk with me in-between.
00:01:26,030 --> 00:01:30,743
I've been very fortunate that both of my
endocrinologists in recent years are type
00:01:30,743 --> 00:01:35,524
one diabetics themselves and I think that,
that really makes a big difference in how
00:01:35,524 --> 00:01:39,970
they care for their patients and their
empathy and understanding of what it's
00:01:39,970 --> 00:01:43,917
like to live with diabetes.
So I find the most important thing
00:01:43,917 --> 00:01:49,480
working with my doctors is really
communicating what's important to me.
00:01:49,480 --> 00:01:53,469
Cuz if they don't know,
then it's hard for them to help me and
00:01:53,469 --> 00:01:56,092
I think it makes the whole visit better.
00:01:56,092 --> 00:02:00,617
Your health care team. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 8, 2018 at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/whos-on-your-health-care-team/your-health-care-team.html.)