Guest Post: Handling Lows.
Today's guest post is from Leah, a person with type 1 diabetes, a nurse practitioner, and she's prepping for a 60 mile bike ride for the Tour de Cure. She writes today about dealing with lows in situations when you're expected to think on your feet ... like when you're dealing with patients.
As a woman who's lived with diabetes for most of my childhood and all my adulthood, I'm well versed on how to be a good patient. I try not to be late to appointments, I bring my list of medications, I know all my doctor's addresses and phone numbers, and I always forgive healthcare providers who are running late (take a good book!).
I also happen to be a nurse practitioner, and I try to be good at that too. I try not to run late, I answer patient phone calls and emails promptly, and I listen with my eyes and ears. What I'm less sure about is how to be a healthcare provider whose life is sometimes interrupted by diabetes. I had a bad diabetes day recently, and it made me remember how frustrating diabetes can be.
I see patients in an office, and have patients booked every 30 minutes. Some days are full and I barely have time to eat, while others are slower and not every slot is filled. The problem comes when I have a bad low blood sugar that I don’t catch in time, which means that I feel completely gaaaah (that’s a medical term) and can barely remember my own name, much less what drug I should be prescribing for my patient.
These bad lows don’t happen very often because I can usually catch them before I feel gaaaah thanks to my Dex CGM. But when a bad low strikes, it means that I have to stop what I’m doing, eat enough to feel better (but not so much that I hate myself later), then wait. And wait and wait until my brain fog lifts and I’m ready to see patients again. I can usually do this eating and waiting between patients, but it make me late for the next patient, and the one after that, and so on.
And on the rare occasion when I have to stop mid-patient visit, I’m never quite sure what to say to the patient. It’s not that I don’t want them to know I’m diabetic—I wear my pump on my hip and I talk about living well with diabetes to anyone who will listen. But I don’t want my patients to see me as vulnerable or incompetent. I want to maintain a professional distance.
So here’s my question: How do you deal with lows in settings where you’re expected to think on your feet? Have you ever felt disrespected by someone who witnessed your low? Should we care what other (usually uninformed) people think?
Leah is a 38 year old wife and mom who lives in Southeastern Massachusetts. She's a self-proclaimed Southerner at heart, having been raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She says, "I feel lucky to have a job I love that allows me to learn something new every day" This coming July, she's planning to ride 60 miles on her bike in the Tour de Cure. You can find Leah on Twitter: @photosinpink.