Yesterday I went to my new clinic for the first time. I recently moved from the city centre to Partick and so, when I went to my new doctor’s surgery, the GP said I could move my diabetes care from Stobhill to Gartnavel and I jumped at the chance.
There was nothing bad about my old clinic, but they had so many doctors that it was common to have a different endo every time. This meant a feeling of starting again on every visit. My HbA1c has been too high for years – almost as long as I can remember, definitely since around 4th year of high school – and so I need support from the clinic but with each doctor comes a different approach. I also didn’t like the fact that none of them knew me, even if I had seen them before.
My second problem with it was that if I phoned to change an appointment, I wouldn’t get another for months.
Thirdly, I always had to wait for hourssssss. No exaggeration – it was at least a half day event.
Fourth, and finally, it’s a bit of a trek.
So yesterday, I left the flat with a positive attitude and followed Google Maps on a nice wee walk to Gartnavel. Thankfully, I arrived quite early as I was in 3 different hospital buildings before finding the diabetes centre. Although I arrived feeling positive, diabetes waiting rooms can be quite a bleak place. This is probably not everyone’s experience, but I often feel like most of the patients look really ill and immobile which can be pretty soul destroying, as if it’s a glimpse into the future.
I got my weight and blood pressure checked (all fine) then got my bloods done before returning to the waiting room. A 20/30 minute wait later (much better than before!) I met my new endo, Dr Small. And what can I say? Great name, great doctor. My referral to him simply said, “Donna has moved address, please look after her.” which seemed to annoy him but for me it was a lovely clean slate. He asked about my job, uni etc and then a bit about my diabetes.
Your HbA1c represents your average blood sugars and a high result, aside from making you feel ill, exhausted etc on the short term, is what leads to long term complications associated with diabetes – kidney failure, loss of eye sight, neuropathy, loss of limbs etc. My HbA1c was 10.5% which is about 90 in the new measurement OR an average blood sugar of 14mmol. A person without diabetes’ HbA1c should be 4-5.9%. A person with diabetes should aim for around 6.5-7.5%. This was up since my last clinic but came as no surprise.
As he discussed the reasons behind this, how I controlled my BGs (blood glucose) and what approach I wanted to take, I struggled to hold back the tears. He said something that really rung true with me… He said that because he was a diabetes specialist with years of experience and more knowledge than most about diabetes, insulin, carbohydrates etc., that he could carb count excellently, figure out his dosage and insulin ratios perfectly and achieve perfect blood sugar (so he thinks, maybe not QUITE true since there are so so so many variables). But then he said that he could only do this for about 4 days before he got too frustrated with it. 🙌🙌🙌🙌 YESSS DR SMALL – nailed it! It’s so emotionally and mentally draining. That’s what’s truly the hardest part.
So next steps… He asked if I’d been on a DAFNE course (dose adjustment for normal eating) and I explained how I really wanted to do it but had been on the waiting list for years. He introduced me to a diabetes nurse and assigned me a dietician. I was then told I could go on course called DICE instead (diabetes – insulin and carbohydrate education). DAFNE is a 5 day course whereas DICE is two days. I am now signed up to a place on the DICE course in February!! Amazing, after being on a DAFNE waiting list for years!
My main step is strict carb counting using one of these…
I’m weighing everything, recording it all in the diary, figuring out carbs with the use of My Fitness Pal, calculating correction doses, then testing two hours later to check if my insulin:carb ratios and correction units were correct. This will take a lot of analysing, effort and commitment but I’m feeling ready! Let’s do this!!