friendo (n.) – An endocrinologist who brings expertise, experience, and engages with a high level of empathy.  ex.  “My endocrinologist is kind of my friend.  And my endo.  They’re my friendo.”

Last week, I had my quarterly visit with my endocrinologist.

Our clinician/patient relationship is still in its fledgling stage, and we’re definitely still getting to know the pros and cons of working together to tackle my diabetes.  (It’s like being in day-date mode, where it’s coffee and light laughter and a little bit of insight on the top three things we’re most scared of.  Not yet friends, definitely an endo, working towards friendo.)  On the whole, we’re all working on making it work.

There are some significant pros to this relationship;  for starters, the commute is 30 minutes, not 120.  I have yet to wait in the waiting room for more than 10 minutes before being called in.  This might not sound like a big deal on the surface, but my previous endocrinologist’s office was a 90 min drive away (not their fault) and I would regularly wait 45 minutes to be seen (their fault), making a 25 minute appointment require an entire day off from work.  And my new endo also has type 1 diabetes, making his empathy as obvious as his education.  (Especially when I voiced frustrations about needing to eat after a cardio workout and he said, “Oh yeah, me too.  That’s the worst.”  He seems to understand that quality of life is as important as a solid A1C result.  I appreciate that.)

On the whole, he seems to want my opinions while being quick to add his medical perspective; he’s fine with me taking Victoza, but was happy to hear that I wasn’t on it anymore, fine with signing off on new tech like the Dexcom G6 or Tandem’s Basal IQ despite seeming to default to Medtronic as his comfort zone, etc.  He’s also very amenable to prescribing/talking through different medicines and management approaches, which is a new experience for me (to be fair, my previous endo didn’t want to tinker with new meds because of my growing family, but now that pregnancy is permanently off the option list, it’s tinker time.).  At the moment, I don’t have any glaringly chaotic trouble spots with diabetes other than being a skittish about lows (hopefully that’ll change/be mitigated by using the Basal IQ), so our conversations were pretty concise this time around.

There are a few things I perceive as cons I’m still adjusting to, though.  The endo’s office is way smaller than Joslin, so when the lady who handles certain a certain workflow isn’t in the office for a few days, there isn’t someone else to pick up that task, leaving tasks in the lurch at times.  It’s also entirely an adult endocrinology practice, so there’s not even a glimmer of the hopeful color you can at least walk past, like at Joslin.  (Sounds silly maybe at first, but hope and empathy shouldn’t feel so rare in healthcare.)  And lastly, it feels like a very capable practice but not the most proactive one.  I asked to have my feet checked instead of being told they were going to be checked.  That sort of thing.

I’m still making the adjustment from my almost-churchlike reverence for Joslin, though.  It’s become clear to me over the last three decades that good care isn’t always about the esteem of the particular hospital system but instead a cauldron combination of things like the front desk receptionist, the medical assistants, the certified diabetes educators, and the endocrinologist as a team.  And me; I’m also part of that team.  At this point in my life, I’m working towards the best care for myself that makes the most sense, and hopefully this new local team will be part of my plan for the long haul.