When is it Time to Fire Your Doctor?

Breaking up with your healthcare team is sometimes essential to get better care; here are 5 signs it’s time to move on and find another doctor

When the white coat walks in, it’s easy to forget that they work for you. Especially with a condition like type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes — where we are essentially being graded based on our blood sugar levels — it’s easy to feel like you have to impress or please the doctor.

Worse, when you aren’t getting the support you need or you aren’t seeing improvements in your diabetes overall, it’s very easy to feel as though somehow it’s entirely your fault.

Your healthcare team works for you. Here are five signs that it’s time to break-up and find another doctor:

You are scolded and shamed for a high A1c

Diabetes is hard work. A high A1c isn’t automatically the result of someone who isn’t trying. It could be the result of someone struggling with depression, an eating disorder, emotional eating, fear of low blood sugars, anxiety about going into the gym, severe inflammation from an undiagnosed condition, or extreme stress.

That being said, you are responsible for asking for help if any of those struggles are impacting your blood sugar levels.

But there’s no reason to scold or shame a patient for struggling. Even if you can’t think of any good explanation for that high A1c, diabetes is still very difficult to manage. So difficult that even thinking about managing it is overwhelming enough to give up.

You deserve a doctor or healthcare team that will see that high A1c and ask you, “What’s going on? How can we help?”

And you need to show up, too. Physically and mentally. 

Your A1c goals are dismissed as unnecessary

Have you ever told your doctor you’d like to improve your A1c and they’ve told you that where you’re at is good enough? You’re the leader of this team. If you’re eager and willing to work on reducing your A1c from 7.1 to 6.1, no one should stop you.

And this dismissal happens all the time. Too often, doctors prefer the status quo — have patients continue to do what they’ve always done and get the results they’ve always gotten. 

If your current A1c is where you want to stay — then great. But if you want to learn more and improve more, they should support you in that worthy goal.

They won’t let you try different insulins or medications

Diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all disease. There are so many options when it comes to fast or long-acting insulin, oral and injectable medications, insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitors!

For example, there are some people who do really well on Levemir and others for whom it is about as effective as an injection of saline. The same can be said for nearly every type of long-acting insulin because your body is going to respond differently to the chemical makeup of one medication compared to how it responds to another. 

Another example, newer insulins like Toujeo, Tresiba, and Basalgar could be a great fit for you and improve your blood sugars, but if your doctor doesn’t want to deal with helping you change and try something new, you’re limited to what you’ve always done.

And it shouldn’t be that way. If you suddenly want to try Invokana, you should be able to do that aside from any legitimate medical reason that indicates it’s unsafe. 

If your doctor isn’t willing to help you experiment with the many options out there today to make you more successful at managing your diabetes, you deserve a new doctor. 

Remember, this is your team!

They don’t have time to help

In today’s medical world, doctors are definitely given very little time with each patient. But you’re paying for their time. They work for you. And you deserve their undivided attention when you’re there for help.

The easiest way around this — if you do really like your doctor — is to schedule more often with their nurse practitioner or diabetes educator, but that’s not always good enough.

If you want more time with the head honcho, consider finding a doctor in smaller practice (versus a hospital) where time with patients is prioritized.

You can’t be honest with them

If you show up to your appointments and telling lies or leave things out because you fear being reprimanded or judged, it’s either time for a new doctor or a bit of a reality check in your own noggin’. 

They can’t help you if you can’t talk to them about what’s going on in your day-to-day life. 

For example, if you’re truly struggling with depression or diabetes burnout, you should be able to show up to that appointment and say, “Hey, I know my A1c has gone up. I’m really struggling mentally with life right now.”

And they could refer you to a therapist and talk about options for managing depression, stress, and anxiety.

But if you feel so much pressure to show up and act like everything is fine, you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice. 

You deserve better. You deserve a doctor that you feel comfortable opening up to when you need their help.

Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to see an endocrinologist if you’re not dealing with ongoing endocrinology issues. If you’re on a good path in your diabetes management, you can work with a primary care doctor and a diabetes educator. If you ever need more help than their expertise can offer, you simply schedule with your endocrinologist again. 

Ginger Vieira has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1999, along with Celiac, fibromyalgia, and hypothyroidism. She is the author of several books: When I Go Low (for kids!), Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes, Dealing with Diabetes Burnout, Emotional Eating with Diabetes, Your Diabetes Science Experiment. Ginger has created content for a variety of websites, including Diabetes Strong, Diathrive, MySugr, DiabetesMine, Healthline, and her YouTube Channel. Today, she is the Digital Content Manager for Beyond Type 1 & Beyond Type 2. Her background includes a B.S. in Professional Writing, certifications in cognitive coaching, Ashtanga yoga, and personal training with several records in drug-free powerlifting. She lives in Vermont with two kiddos, her handsome fella, and their amazing dog, Pedro.

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