Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Planning for a Successful Health-Care Visit

by Janet Howard-Ducsay, RN, CDE

If your and your doctor’s goals are different, it’s important discuss those differences and to work out a plan for going forward. You need to be clear about what you are willing and able to do to manage your diabetes. Your doctor should be willing to listen respectfully to what you have to say and also to explain the reasons behind his goals. Chances are, you can come to an agreement about steps you feel able to take that will help to manage your diabetes.

However, if your doctor is not willing to listen to what you have to say or to discuss how to achieve the goals that are important to you, it may be time to reevaluate whether this health-care provider is the best for you. If the physician does not have the time for a lengthy discussion, ask to speak to a certified diabetes educator to help you with setting and achieving goals related to your diabetes.

Bring your calendar
Bring your appointment book or digital calendar to schedule future visits. Ask whether your diabetes care provider’s office can schedule other routine exams, such as eye, dental, or complete foot exams, for you while you are there.

Even if your doctor takes a look at your feet at every visit, the American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone with diabetes have an annual comprehensive foot exam that includes an assessment of the skin on the feet, the shape of the feet and toes, the appearance of the muscles of the feet, and the pulses found on the feet. The exam should also include testing for loss of sensation on the feet using what is called a monofilament (a light, thin strand of nylon mounted on a handle), as well as one other method of testing (of which there are several options). Your doctor may wish to schedule a separate appointment for this exam or a longer appointment than usual, or he may refer you to a specialist for it.

When scheduling your lab tests, leave enough free time in your schedule before and after so no conflicts arise. Many people feel that if they miss a lab test, there’s no point in keeping an appointment with their health-care provider. This can begin a vicious cycle of missed appointments. If you miss a lab test, therefore, do your best to reschedule it quickly, and keep your appointment with your health-care provider, even if you won’t get to the lab first. Ask your health-care provider if you can check in by phone or e-mail to discuss your lab results when they’re ready.

Get the most from your minutes
Realistically, we all know that doctor appointments can feel rushed. Those 10–15 minutes seem to fly by, and you can feel as if you’re leaving with as many questions as you came with. With a few minutes of careful planning before your appointment, however, and an optimistic, confident attitude, each visit can leave you feeling better informed, which will strengthen your resolve to do your best at diabetes self-management.

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