For the first time, I found myself in the Emergency Department last night. But it wasn’t for me nor was it anything diabetes related. And it was certainly weird being the support person, rather than the focus of the consult for once!
I’ve mostly attended my appointments myself. From being diagnosed with diabetes till today. What I didn’t realise at the time was how difficult it can be as a support person during a consult. Here’s what I learned from my little experience last night:
- Jokes about ‘not being the patient for once’ will probably invite a death stare from your partner.
- Probably best to give your partner an opportunity to ask questions before you jump in with some.
- Jokes about ‘diabetes not being the centre of attention’ will most likely make you the centre of attention, so best to avoid.
- Avoid saying ‘I told you so’ aloud in consult room, even if you did tell them so.
The experience prompted me to reflect back on my diabetes appointments. I was grateful that my mum came along initially to learn about living with diabetes with me. It felt like we were in this together. Which is why being invited to an appointment is as a big deal. It’s like being invited to meet their family. So in addition to the generic tips above, I hope these will help.
- Ask questions when appropriate. Healthcare professionals should recognise that you’re important to their patient if you’re in the room and allow for question time.
- If there’s no question time during the appointment, ask your partner after. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little debrief.
- Be present during the appointment. Avoid reading a book or playing on your phone during the consult. You may as well be sitting in the waiting room!
- Asking personal questions about your health during someone else’s appointment is a big no no.
- Debriefing after an appointment should not include phrases like ‘you should take your health more seriously’, or ‘why were your results so bad’ or ‘have you tried this <insert natural cure>’. NO! You’re their support person. Be supportive! If changes were discussed during the appointment, think of things you could help them with. For example taking a walk together after dinner.
And if you’ve never been asked to attend an appointment, that’s okay. The most valuable tip I can provide you is to remember that everyone manages their condition differently. The best thing you can do, is just let them know that you care about them and are ready to support in a way that you can.