Do Unicorns Get Diabetes?

I was at the doctor today for a non-diabetes related thing, a “woman’s” thing. I was already feeling a little uptight, wishing I was not there, thinking about all the things I needed to get done today and wondering why she was running 45 minutes late. I contemplated running out, telling them I had another appointment to get to, but I didn’t. I knew it had to be done and as I was there and had already waited, I might as well go forwards. You can catch up with a lot while waiting for the doctor – I did not even know Rebecca Gibney had put on weight and there she was having lost 15 kilos on a diet described as “diabetes friendly”! Which essentially meant virtually no food and a LOT of water.

So back to the moment, the GP called me in. A lovely doctor she is, very smart and caring, someone you feel blessed to have found as your GP. I also have a multitude of what I call “Ologists” in my life. You know, the ENDOcrinologist, the GASTRoenterologist, the OPTHAMLologist, the RHEUMAtologist, the NEURologist and have even had over the years “ologists” related to my blood, skin, lungs and more.

So, here I sit about to undergo this procedure and she smiles and asks “and how are your sugar levels?”. Inside I think “WHY are you asking me that? Well I have type 1 diabetes so you know, I guess they are CRAP….” but instead I go into my “patient” mode and answer “oh you know, OK, well actually with my gastroparesis they have been pretty up and down lately and oh, I have been sick too, so yeah, they have been a bit up and down”.

That is an understatement.

I have been riding the rollercoaster with the 3.5 – 25 mmol the past few weeks. But I smile and make excuses. – explaining again why my blood glucose levels are not always 3.5 – 8 mmol (because if you did not know it, diabetes is very easy to manage and you should be able to achieve these levels).

Lovely doctor she is, she asks me if the gastroparesis causes “dumping” of glucose into my blood stream. “Yeah, pretty much” I answer. And then try to give an explanation of what happens but start to feel a little upset and realise that this is probably something I am still dealing with so I stop and change the subject.

Feeling now a bit like I did all those years ago when my parents took me to the children’s hospital every 3 months and we would sit in the rabble of outpatients to await prodding, poking and judging. And worse still, the short time where I was “transitioned” to the adult hospital and shared this space with a lot of elderly people with type 2 diabetes feeling like an alien until my lovely (and still current) Endo started a young people’s clinic………

She later asks me if my Endo does my urine checks for protein and I make sure she knows that this is the case and that I am not here for my diabetes.

Don’t get me wrong. It is brilliant to see an engaged and switched on GP who wants to make sure her patient has all of her needs covered. Sadly this can be lacking in many cases and I know of people who have the complete opposite with their doctor ignoring their diabetes. But it made me think about how easy it is to slip into “explaining” your blood glucose levels, as if it is somehow your fault they are up and down and that if you just managed better, they would sit in that fantasy zone of 3.5 – 8 mmol all the time. And actually I think there may also be unicorns in this fantastical world.

So, consultation finished, job done, back to work. Feeling a little less in control and a little more like a person trying to manage a disease that can sometimes be so unmanageable. Amazing what a trip to the doctor can do for you isn’t it. Time to stop explaining and just tell it like it is. I wonder if I can.




  1. Sally Marchini on July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Hmmm – same deal for me today seeing a Rheumatologist for my chronic frozen shoulder and I felt he was more interested in my diabetes that my shoulder even though it was irrelevant. He tried telling me that there’s a large number of people with diabetes AND frozen shoulders, and I told him it was because people with diabetes DO something about their health conditions and therefore it was purely epidemiological and not evidence-based. He shut up pretty quickly 😛

    • Helen Edwards on July 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Been there! Frozen shoulder now for five years and no real help 🙁 been blamed on diabetes too

  2. Karen Lynch on July 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    thank you for your thoughts – helps me to think about the judgement that my 17 year old son and I have to endure

    • Helen Edwards on July 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      You are most welcome 🙂

  3. Janine Newton on July 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I hear you loud and clear. Got a sore toe, its the diabetes……. and I laughed at your “patient mode”. No matter what you see any doctor about, it’s always about sugar levels and I also give the “standard” answer with excuses as to why the levels are so not perfect this week/month! I love you – I dont feel so bad now! Keep it coming!

    • Helen Edwards on July 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      thanks for your lovely response! 🙂 so great to hear people connect with things and makes us all feel less alone 🙂