I walked into exam room #2 and sat down. I had my patient’s lab results in my hand and they weren’t good.
She was 48, had diabetes, and was overweight. We’ve talked about her eating habits before, but she just couldn’t seem to get her carbs under control.
Needless to say, her HA1c was out of control. More specifically, she was at 11%.
She was maxed out on metformin and glipizide. The next step? Well, obviously insulin. Right?
But, it’s not always that easy.
See, going from oral medication to insulin, is very emotional. Most feel as if now they are sick – the second they have to “stick” themselves with a needle, signifies they have failed.
This is very common.
And, it’s not their fault. Often times, they know someone who became severely ill, soon after starting insulin. It’s more than likely it wasn’t the insulin which made their friend sick. But, instead, it was the fact they were walking around in the 300’s for years.
So, I explained the results. My patient nodded and understood everything I was saying.
Then, came the difficult part. I started the “insulin” talk. This always feels as if I’m having the “birds and the bees” talk lol. It’s something neither of us want to do – but needs to get done.
Anyway, back to the patient…
Now, although she understood – she refused to take me up on the insulin. I’d say, 8 times out of 10, my patients refuse the insulin – initially.
I’ve come to expect it. I don’t judge and I don’t get upset. After all, it’s her life – not mine.
But, I know she needs it. I also know I will see her again. I have learned not to push my agenda on a patient, as this rarely works. Instead, I’ve learned to understand why patient’s do what they do.
This visit was nothing more than to understand.
But, little by little, I’ll shift her perspective, so she realizes she’s not a “failure”.
We need to remember to be empathetic. This is often either forgotten or misunderstood. See, empathy and sympathy are not the same.
Dr. Brene Brown says, “empathy is about connection; sympathy is about separation”.
She also says, the power of empathy is to say:
I’m in it with you.
I’m not here to fix you.
I’m not here to feel it for you.
I’m here to feel with you and let you know you’re not alone.
You need to learn how to empathize, before you can learn how to help 👍🏼
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