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Get the most out of your diabetes doctor visit

Laura Golden | The LOOP Blog


In today’s healthcare environment, the time you spend face-to-face with your doctor can be limited. To get the most from your health care providers (HCPs) and help alleviate any anxiety you may feel about the appointment, preparation is key. Medtronic Diabetes Clinical Manager and Registered Nurse, Laura Golden, shares tips on how you can plan in advance for your next diabetes check-up with your doctor. Laura’s experience in diabetes began when she was a school nurse and realized she had to quickly learn about the disease, so she headed off to diabetes camp for over five summers before choosing to work educating both kids and adults with diabetes.

Most of us love heading off to visit with our healthcare provider. I personally find it exhilarating to step on the scale at my doctor’s office. Though I still don’t understand, after all this time, how he can still use that broken scale that always adds 5-10 pounds to my actual weight.

Let’s face it, visits to the doctor can be super anxiety-producing (perhaps a few extra pounds since the last visit or you are concerned about your cholesterol after a recent week long White Castle binge). But they don’t have to be, especially if you plan in advance for the visit.

1. Bring Your Current HbA1c Results

Having a current HbA1c to guide the ‘Diabetes talk,’ can prove incredibly helpful. Although some offices have an Hba1c machine in the office, many do not, and since this is still considered a vital tool in assessing control, I recommend having labs drawn at least a few days before the visit so your healthcare provider has the results of the test at your visit. And please, if your A1c is above target, remember that diabetes management is a marathon, not a sprint. Diabetes management requires perspective and an understanding that it is your overall control over time that matters, not a one-time lab test or one-time visit to the endocrinologist. You will have an opportunity to ask your HCP what you can do to get it closer to target in the future.

2. Prepare Your Questions/Issues

Believe it or not, healthcare providers usually prefer that a patient comes prepared with questions/ issues so that these can be addressed at some point in the visit (remember that the typical provider does not have two hours blocked for your visit, so keep this simple). When seeing a diabetes specialist, feel free to ask about new medications you may have heard about, how she or he feels about your overall glucose control, names of other diabetes team members you should be seeing (Registered Dietician, Social worker, etc.)

3. Have A List of “Must Brings” and “Might Brings”

When packing up for the visit, have a list of “must bring” and “might bring”.

Must Bring

  • Glucometer and or log book
  • If you’re on a pump, download and print appropriate CareLink reports at home before you leave (or if you know your office downloads, just bring your pump. Not sure why you wouldn’t bring your pump, but just sayin’, bring it)
  • List of medications (include supplements and vitamins)
  • Hypoglycemic treatment (it will surely impress the office staff if you actually carry glucose tabs and don’t have to tap into their stash)
  • A record of anything significant that may have occurred since your last visit (hospitalizations, Emergency Room visits, diabetes-related episodes such as a low blood sugar that required assistance)
  • Your honesty!

Might Bring

  • A friend or family member, especially if you’re newly diagnosed. Having someone else hear new recommendations or instructions can be a good idea
  • Note paper and pen (or if it’s 2015, bring your smartphone, iPad, etc. and use the notes option) to jot down anything new
  • A snack and water just in case your 1pm appointment somehow turns into a 4pm appointment

Leave at home

  • Article you read in the National Enquirer that maps out ‘The Real Cure for Diabetes’
  • Used test strips that somehow never got thrown out and are in your glucometer case (the medical assistant downloading your meter will thank you)
  • Any friend or family member who you feel might monopolize the conversation e.g. “Doctor, you should know she had a piece of chocolate cake on her birthday last year. That’s really bad, right?”

Please remember: Diabetes specialists are not in this field because they enjoy yelling at patients, they do this because they are committed to helping people with diabetes live longer, healthier lives! So try and remember this as you plan for your next visit. And if you see my doctor, feel free to ask him about his “broken” scale.

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