Au Revoir Endo

I never thought I would be upset about losing a doctor, but having a good doctor as a diabetic is essential to your well being.

By reading your blood sugars, this person knows more about your everyday habits than your roommate or closest friend. Not that I don’t try to hide my “cheat” days every now and then, but as a perfectionist, it’s hard to keep everything hidden, especially my lows.

With a history of seizures (weirdly only at airports), managing my lows has been central to my health. My current endocrinologist has helped me take back control of my life more than any other endocrinologist I’ve had in the four years since I was diagnosed (and there’s been three).

But more than a doctor, she became a personal confidant. We talked about my relationships, job stressors, dietary changes, writing about diabetes, and other medical issues. One time, while I was in search of a new primary care physician, to ease my pain, she prescribed me the same medication she took for eczema. It still works.

I looked forward to our meetings, which occurred every three months. It was nice to talk to someone who understood the disease, but also took an interest in me. Most importantly, I always could count on her. Instead of having to call the doctor’s office and leave a voicemail for script requests and other needs, I could email her, and she would respond within 24 hours. She always overprescribed medication to make sure I never ran out (even if my insurance company would only fill a month supply at a time as opposed to the coveted 90-day supply).

She never let me down. A few weeks ago, I had a five-day supply of insulin left. My new member ID cards hadn’t come in, and my insurance company told me I would have to pay for prescriptions out of pocket and submit for reimbursement. Insulin is not cheap, and I need it to live so I emailed my doctor. Twenty-four hours later, I had enough insulin for more than a month’s supply. It’s nice to feel like you have someone looking out for you.

But when I called yesterday to reschedule an appointment that conflicted with a jury duty requirement, I was told: You’ll have a new provider. Your current doctor is leaving in a few weeks.

What? Doctors leave all the time, especially in Baltimore City (in the past year, I’ve lost three). But I was stunned, almost to tears. Why should this change affect me more than the others? Because as much as I hate to admit it, diabetes IS my life, and my doctor is my stronghold, support and stability in the maze of this disease.

Now she’s gone. Again, I feel alone like I’m on a tennis court with no one in my box. It’s not that I don’t have friends or family supporting me, but she was the only one who understood the disease the way I do. She was the only one who could slightly comprehend what I went through on a daily basis, and she was one of the first doctors who did not judge me for my errors. She accepted my imperfections, knowing I’m doing the best I can. Although I can hope my new provider will do the same, I doubt I will find that same connection with another endocrinologist.

But I couldn’t just leave without saying goodbye. So I wrote her an email that went something like this:

I just heard that you will be leaving in a few weeks. I wanted to let you know that I’ve appreciated having you as my doctor this past year or so. I felt like you understood where I was coming from and helped me out whenever I needed it. To date, I’ve never had a doctor show this much care and support, and I want to say thank you. 

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