Managing Type 2 Diabetes: Communicating like a Pro
Communication is so important when working with your healthcare team. Check that all your providers have one another’s names, phone numbers, and fax numbers so they can share your health records or call each other if something comes up. Make sure all the providers on your team know when you make changes to your medications or other treatments. It’s also helpful for everyone to know if you make lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or beginning a new weight-loss diet.
Your team is there to support you, so don’t be shy to lean on them when you have questions or concerns. You may need to take the initiative to contact a team member, especially if you don’t have a regularly scheduled exam anytime soon. The next time you have an appointment, ask your provider how he or she likes to handle questions. Should you email, call, talk to a nurse on staff, or just make an appointment? Every office is different, so ask ahead of time about the best way to communicate when you have questions.
It may seem intimidating to put yourself out there and raise a concern. After all, everybody feels nervous and worried asking about things they don’t know or think they should know. Remember: Part of your role as the leader of your healthcare team is to voice your concerns and feelings so your providers can offer helpful solutions and treatments.
Use the following tips to help you feel more comfortable talking to your diabetes care provider or CDE about your questions and concerns:
- Write down your questions ahead of time and bring that paper with you. Be prepared by bringing along your meter and/or logbook and a list of your current medications.
- Start your appointment by telling your provider what you hope to accomplish and asking her what she hopes to accomplish during this visit.
- If you don’t understand something, ask again. Diabetes is a chronic condition with lots of moving parts like diet, exercise, medications, and monitoring. It’s normal not to understand everything all at once and totally okay to ask for clarification.
- Bring a notebook and write your doctor’s instructions down as you go, if that’s helpful. It won’t offend your provider and might even encourage her that you’re listening and ready to take action when you get home.
One of the most important steps you’ll take with your diabetes care provider, or really any provider, is to set goals. Make sure you clearly understand your goals and talk about the specific action steps you’ll take to achieve those goals. For example, if you want to lose 5 pounds, talk about each step you’ll take along the way, such as eating smaller portions or exercising an extra day a week.
Another part of achieving goals is measuring your progress. Talk about how you’ll measure your progress in your daily life. After all, you’re the one living with diabetes 365 days a year, not just during the hour spent in your provider’s office. Talk about how you’ll measure successes and tweak your challenges to achieve each one of your goals. Measuring goals could include keeping a logbook of blood glucose readings, writing down meal specifics, or starting a journal to record your feelings and mood.