Thursday, April 3, 2008

My first endocrinologist and my diabetes

In the last handful or so of posts, I told the story of my diagnosis and hospitalization. I discussed how ignorance and confusion about diabetes seems to prevail even through the medical industry.

Unfortunately, I didn't experience anything much better from my first endocrinologist.

In the beginning, I though he was great. I credited him with nailing the correct dose of insulin (though after reading my discharge paperwork, the general practitioners had actually pretty much gotten it themselves; all he did was adjust it by a unit).

Within two years, I was totally disillusioned with him. My sugars were out of control, my A1c was the highest it had been since my diagnosis, and he didn't have any clear answers for me.

In fact, my endocrinologist often blamed me for my lack of control. I began to dread my appointments. He was diagnosing and recommending stuff left and right, really bizarre stuff — for instance, he suggested I was type 1 and type 2 and prescribed medication for treating type 2 diabetes, which his dietician thankfully recommended I not take. He also suggested I get on the South Beach diet, which is often used to help type 2 diabetics control their sugars.

Keep in mind that this is someone who is supposed to specialize in conditions like mine.

In the end, the problem turned out to be something extraordinarily simple: My endocrinologist had neglected to tell me that Lantus, my once-a-day insulin, expired 28 days after you opened the bottle. I was using a bottle until it ran out, which took about 2 months. Therefore, every other month my sugars were inexplicably (it seemed) out of control.

This was not the first time I had had a problem with my endocrinologist not properly briefing me on a drug before prescribing it to me. That, coupled with the fact that he never noticed the pattern and figured out what could be causing it (I kept careful records of my sugars, my dosages, etc.), finally pushed me to seek out another doctor.

I switched to the Barbara Davis Center, which is among the top juvenile diabetes clinics in the United States, and it proved to be the best thing for me: I have been happier and in better control of my diabetes ever since. However, before we go there, I have other stories about my first endocrinologist, such as a hasty and incorrect diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease, and the issues surrounding my cholesterol.

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