I’m participating in the 4th Annual Diabetes Blog Week!
May 13, 2013: Share and Don’t Share
Madeline visits the pediatric endocrinology clinic every three months at our regional children’s hospital. There, she usually visits with one of the Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE), someone we first met at diagnosis and who has since been on Madeline’s treatment team. We adore our CDE. I assume that she sees hundreds of patients, and yet, she always surprises me by remembering the details of our lives, our needs, and our “ways” of managing T1D. She’s always curious about the goings-on in Madeline’s daily life as a typical second-grade girl, and Madeline talks about her as though she is one of the family. For me, our CDE offers much-needed perspective… it’s so easy to get trapped in the incessant details and conundrums of managing T1D day in day out, and she helps me step back, look at the total picture, and evaluate next steps in achieving longer-range goals.
Because of our strong patient-provider relationship, you’d think we would be willing to share any health-related information. Nope. We’re not there.
At the start of the visit, a nurse takes Madeline into an exam room to get vitals and A1C data, while I go to the appointment room and fill out a form that asks me to update pertinent information. On this form, there is a section that instructs me to “please list any natural or homeopathic remedies currently being used.” Every single time, I hem and haw at this request. We use naturopathic remedies all of the time. Do I list them all? Do I just focus on the ones that are in heaviest rotation at the moment, say, to treat Madeline’s pollen allergy? Do I just bypass the request for information altogether? I sit there, debating and worrying, and usually end up writing N/A.
My dilemma speaks to a deeper issue, though. You see, our CDE is a medical professional trained in a specific aspect of contemporary health care and possesses her own set of understandings, philosophies, and beliefs related to her professional practice. I, too, have my own perspective about health and nutrition, honed through a few years of research and experience, and my viewpoints are—when compared to what appears to be the standard medical perspective—unorthodox. In my experience, most providers trained in contemporary medicine are less than receptive to hearing information about naturopathic approaches to health and wellness. The responses I have received have ranged from the patronizing pat-on-the-back to the are-you-freaking-crazy? glare, all of which leave me unnerved, defensive, and frustrated.
So, while I really adore our CDE, I don’t know her medial perspectives well enough to take a risk of revealing our deeply-held beliefs about health and nutrition. Of all the medical providers on Madeline’s team, our CDE is the most essential—the coach who guides us through the daily T1D Tough Mudder, the professional who understands the disease unlike anyone else, the perspective-giving cheerleader. Until my health insurance plan is willing to cover the services of a naturopathic doctor who is also certified as a CDE (and yes, there actually is such a person in my small state), we’re stuck navigating the field of contemporary medical providers for Madeline’s care. So, we have to make our current arrangement work.
And that means treading carefully when sharing certain kinds of information.