Dear Health Care Santa

Day 4: Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!


This is a huge topic for anyone living with a chronic illness. I can’t even talk about health insurance… I’m fortunate to have decent insurance but even so I have had to take vacation days in the past just to make phone calls to try to get things straightened out and I despise the feeling that we have to fight or negotiate to get the supplies we need to be healthy.

So, avoiding any more insurance talk… Instead – a Healthcare Wish List:

  • No comparisons: It doesn’t matter to me at all how my A1c compares with all of your other patients or whether my fasting glucose is “better” than X% of others you see. If my readings aren’t meeting the goals that we (I) are setting for my health then we need to talk about how to get closer to achieving those goals. It isn’t helpful for you to shrug off my concern because you have other patients who would be happy to have my numbers.
  • Ask me how I’m doing: At the beginning of our brief appointments, ask me how I’m doing, if I have anything I want to talk about today. Don’t leave whole-person questions or what I’m most interested in working on for the last 45 seconds of our appointment.
  • If I Say No, Listen: You know me, know that I work hard to manage my diabetes and stay healthy. If I am reluctant to do or try something please take the time to really listen to my reasons. Don’t just insist there is only one right way.
  • Ask Me: Before you say that I’ve done something “wrong” in my daughter’s diabetes care, ask me why I made that decision. I get why the SOPs exist, but I’ve also lived with this disease long enough myself and in her to have some idea of when the SOP doesn’t apply, or when the situation calls for a different approach. When we talk it through maybe I will reconsider and decide to do it differently next time, but maybe you’ll see that diabetes calls for finesse and flexibility along with settings and protocols.
  • Challenge Me: I’m the expert in my own diabetes, and in a lot of aspects of my daughter’s diabetes as well (though she’s still and always the expert in how she is feeling!), and my daily experience gives me great knowledge to work with. But… sometimes I am too close to all of it, or too burned out, or too stuck in a rut to try something new or recognize a pattern or make the best change. Don’t let me settle when there is something you can offer that will help one (or both) of us live an even healthier life.

I think the themes in this partial list are partnership, listening/communication, being present with me as an individual. I honestly don’t know if most HCPs can accomplish real partnerships with most of their patients given the brief appointments, heavy paperwork/record-keeping, and insurance requirements.  I could pretty much continue this list until next year’s Diabetes Blog Week but there are other things to do – including reading all the other posts out there!!

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5 Responses to Dear Health Care Santa

  1. Pam says:

    I love this post.. and the title.. It is perfect. So valid and true!

  2. Kelley says:

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more! Don’t compare my A1C to others. I’m struggling with this now that I’m pregnant because I want the best possible blood sugars I can have and my endocrinologist thinks that I’m doing just fine but I think she is comparing me to other PWDs who might not have the same goals as me. Great post!

  3. kerriari says:

    dear santa! yes… to all that stuff about LISTENING to the patient. not making us feel rushed. make us feel like a person you care about. it’s not that hard.

  4. Frank says:

    Couldn’t agree more here. Goals need to be individual ones, and if you have set the bar higher compared to other patients, then that should be respected. Happened with me so many times.

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