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Do You Lie to Your Doctor?

I have found it challenging, at times, to tell the truth to my endocrinologist.   

“Exercise? Yes. I exercise. Nine times a day, I exercise.”

“I have no idea why I was high last Thursday. Or this morning, for that matter.”

“Counting carbs? Yep, I’m all over it.”

Interested in more than just my lab work, my endocrinologist asks me thoughtful questions about my family, my relationship with my husband, and life outside of the confines of my A1c result. So why, as an adult, have I had issues being honest with my endo about the diabetes problems I need real help solving, particularly in moments where I could have just ‘fessed up and saved my endo the effort of trying to find “a solution.”

In this month’s edition of SUM Musings on diaTribe, I’ve drawn from my own experience and collected some thoughts from others about why patients hide the truth from their doctor, what could improve communication between HCPs and PWDs, and how we can embrace a culture of honesty in pursuit of better health.  (Yeah, it sounds kind of serious, but I had a cat wrapped around my neck the whole time I wrote it, so there’s an element of furry fury to the whole thing.)

Thanks to Martin, Lorraine, Kate, Howard, and Sean for their contributions!  Head over to diaTribe to read the whole thing.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. One part is lying, and the second part is forgetting. That is why I want a ‘comments’ section connected to my pump. Slowly, we are seeing some apps that can do that. And other times, especially when in college, I would chuckle when my doctor would ask, “So why were you high at 3:30 in the morning” umm cause I was probably doing stupid college things all night?

    Why do we lie? Because, unless my doctor has diabetes, they won’t understand. “So why did you not check the low you treated in the middle of the night” – cause I ate 50 carbs so I knew I would be fine and could get back to sleep…please tell me my A1C so I can leave.

    03/23/15; 10:55 am
  2. Sweet! Nice article with important information. Thanks!

    03/23/15; 11:30 am
  3. andy #

    Both endos I’ve had have been a waste of time. Honestly the np is much easier to talk to. They know their stuff and want to work with you. Some questions Dr. Asks really deserve a smart ass response like my favorite why was your b.g. high this day 3 months ago? Really? Having a practitioner with diabetes is very helpful.

    03/23/15; 12:03 pm
  4. ria #

    my A1c is tomorrow, followed by a Dr. appt/review
    “the dog ate my meter”

    03/23/15; 12:55 pm
  5. For many years I lied to my doctors. I think it was because they all seemed so shaming – why set myself up to be insulted by someone who had no idea how hard it was to live with db?
    After I had my life-threatening illness episode (nearly 5 years ago), I have been completely straightforward. I have to be, in order to effectively manage the multiple complex medical issues that it left me with.
    I helps tremendously that ALL of my current docs are compassionate, respectful, and nonjudgmental. Once my nephrologist said, “I really appreciate your honesty – makes it much easier for me to help you. Thanks.” Later, when I told him that my personal life was in chaos, he said, “tell me about it” (yes, he’s a keeper).
    Last year I was dealing with an eating disorder and had outpatient treatment at a well-known facility here in town. The CDE nurse was a gem, and immediately won my trust. Knowing this from the start, there was never even a tiny consideration that I would fudge the numbers in my logbook, or fib about what I’d eaten. (It probably helped that I was paying a huge copayment out of pocket and wanted to get my money’s worth.)
    Being truthful keeps things simple. Lying leads to a big tangled mess.

    03/23/15; 1:24 pm
    • ria #

      Minnesota Nice
      You use the words so well(shaming,insulting, )
      I hear ya’.
      I have learned, over the years, the most important person I can be truthful with is Myself.
      I too have suffered some complications from D.
      “I wish I knew then what I know now”. And then some.
      We are human, and our doctors “should” be more understanding, as you describe your current health care team to be.
      Best wishes for a Happy Spring, …..take care

      03/23/15; 1:52 pm
  6. Emily #

    I don’t lie to my endo, but I do lie to other HCPs, like my dentist, that I see for “normal people” medical stuff. I do this because they don’t even understand the questions they are asking. I have previously explained to my dentist why asking a type 1 what her “fasting blood sugar” is will not give him a picture of my control, but he doesn’t understand and insists on playing amateur-endo. I have even asked him how his questions will alter my care and received non-nonsensical answers.

    So now I just skip the whole thing by telling him what he wants to hear and it all goes much more smoothly.

    03/23/15; 3:28 pm
  7. My appointment on Friday will go terrible. I know this. I even put the appointment off because I know that my doctor is going to know what happened. The truth is that I’m just tired of all of it and I gave up. How do I make someone understand that it isn’t one thing that tipped me into not trying anymore, it’s the sum of the whole?

    03/23/15; 5:22 pm
  8. karend1 #

    I lie because I don’t want to see a cde, or join a group or talk about joining a group for exercise and pumping, most suggestions don’t work

    03/23/15; 7:41 pm
  9. Oh I am so guilty of this. I tend to go in with a defensive attitude and that’s not good, either. :/

    03/23/15; 9:23 pm
  10. Ben S #

    I think this is something that should be factored into medical training (if it isn’t already). And not just for endos. I suspect a LOT of parents aren’t completely honest with paediatricians about how they feed/bring-up their children.

    And then there are the people who have decided (based on internet) that they have this and that condition and will adapt their answers to push the doctor in the direction of the medication they have decided they need.

    And people who just aren’t that great at synthesising information, or understanding the importance of precision, or who naturally exaggerate: “I kept being sick all night”, “I haven’t slept in weeks”.

    03/24/15; 1:50 am
  11. Lie? I have a whole other secret identity around people. To my doctor, not so much.

    03/24/15; 7:47 am
  12. In fact he’s probably the only one I’m completely honest with,

    For the others I’m afraid I’m wasting my time or seeking pity, and I don’t like to do either. I’m like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide.

    03/24/15; 12:00 pm
  13. jenn_ns #

    If my doc would let me speak instead of pouring over my book and then drilling me with question after question, without giving me time to respond properly, then we might get along better. Instead he’s rushing me out the door in 10 minutes or less! I have to remind him to take my blood pressure even…. *sigh* He has NO bedside manner……

    03/24/15; 12:26 pm

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