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4th Annual Diabetes Blog Week: May 13

diabetes blog week May 2013I’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.


About Heather Garcia Queen

I am… a mother of 3 spectacular children. A wife of an architect extraordinaire. An MSW. A psychologist in an elementary school. A (wishful) writer. A protector of family and spirit. A worshipper of the natural world. A seeker of knowledge. A lover of the arts. An introvert. A silver-lining kind of girl.


3 thoughts on “4th Annual Diabetes Blog Week: May 13

  1. Oooh–good one. I recently withheld medical information from my extremely conservative and old dentist because I thought he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

    In terms of our D-teams…if everyone using homeopathy/alternative medicine owned up to it, it could serve to educate them in a “hey, all of the patients who are drinking dandelion root coffee** are doing so well…maybe I should learn about it” way. But if it is just YOU owning up to it, you might have to listen to a bunch of party-line blah-blah-blah.

    **not intended as an endorsement of dandelion coffee. It’s just on my list for me to buy and drink.

    Other than patients sharing the information, how do standard medical people ever learn about the woo-woo stuff that’s so appealing to the layperson?

    My comment means to say: I’m with you on the not sharing.

    Posted by Katy | 05/13/2013, 11:14 am
  2. In my limited experience trying to educate a provider about a new idea or an area of research with which they are likely unfamiliar, I often get looked at like I am insane… one of those “crazy” people who jumps on every new bandwagon coming along. My son was seeing a GI specialist for digestive issues that I feel strongly are tied to gluten intolerance… when I told her that he was asymptomatic when he avoided gluten, she told me that if I planned to eliminate gluten completely, that I be sure to meet with a nutritionist about it because “those foods are fortified with vitamins and minerals that kids need and often don’t get.” I was flabbergasted… afterward I thought about it and concluded that she probably deals with people who eat a standard American diet, who have no real idea about real nutrition, and so her comment would be appropriate in that context. But she did not acknowledge AT ALL the very well-researched link between gluten consumption and problems with acid reflux. Instead, she wanted him to take a medication to reduce stomach acid. That is the LAST thing he needs! If I have to educate a specialist at a well-known children’s research hospital, what does that really say for the state of medical education and for the state of doctors’ willingness to keep learning after they have left school?

    Posted by Heather Garcia Queen | 05/13/2013, 2:54 pm
  3. Not that you asked… 😉

    But I would say – share what you want to share. The only time I would think it would be an issue is if there could possibly be a drug interaction. For example how St John’s Wort negatively interacts with a lot of drugs.

    I won’t tell if you don’t!

    Posted by Sara | 05/13/2013, 10:30 pm

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This work by Heather Garcia Queen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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