Recently, I transitioned to a different diabetes clinic as I needed a team that was in one location and within the public system. The move to a new clinic felt like starting a new school. I was excited and nervous to meet my new team, while getting hopelessly lost in the hospital maze and appointment booking systems.
From the moment I stepped in the clinic the receptionists gave me a weird vibe. I was used to having a nice chat with people at the front desk who keep the clinic running smooth. However, these guys would barely break from their own conversations to say hi while checking me in. It felt weird to be almost invisible.
I recognised a few familiar faces from conferences and diabetes camps, so there was some friendly catch up on life and research. The thing I struggled with were the comments from clinicians I had never met who said “I won’t go through this with you since you should already know it” and “You probably don’t need to see the dietitian, seeing as you’re one”. Then I remembered that my referral included this little detail as part of my background. I did ask my referring doctor not to include this information in but perhaps it slipped through.
Those comments were exactly why I wanted to remain somewhat anonymous. I may know a lot about diabetes management and am good at helpful others troubleshoot things. But I usually spend so much brain space thinking about other diabetes research things for work that I sometimes just need that extra perspective. I overthink everything and am either over cautious or too blasé about my diabetes care. So having that extra guidance is extremely helpful.
Luckily I had the confidence to politely and firmly request that I did want a dietitian appointment and I did want to go through the basic knowledge even if it’s just to ensure that my knowledge is all up to date. I may have even asked a few questions that broke the system and sent clinicians trying to find appropriate print-outs and then printers. Apparently the hospital has a confusing printer system. So somewhere out there, a poor printer probably has a heap of random print outs that will never be claimed.
This experience reminded me of three things. One: that everyone in the clinic plays an important role in making the client feel comfortable. Two: that as a clinician, you need to meet a person at their own level and never make assumptions. I don’t want to be spoken down to like a child. At the same time I don’t want my clinician to skip everything, making me feel stupid if I asked a basic question with statements like “you should know this”. And three: it doesn’t matter who you are, advocating for your own health and needs is a skill you should never underestimate.