Yesterday was a hugely positive and enjoyable day for me. Not because I had a excellent run of blood glucose readings, or because I didn’t bruise myself with a needle. Not because I didn’t have a hypo or need to think about what I was eating. No… It was because for over an hour in my diabetes clinic I saw cheerful faces, heard welcoming and attentive voices, and felt I nothing but enthusiasm and motivation while I was there.
Firstly my dietician came and chatted to me while I was waiting for my appointment. She thanked me for answering a few questions for a diabetes newsletter that is sent out to health care professionals. She’d already thanked me a number of times via email, but the fact that she stopped and took time to chat to me in person (when I’m sure she was very busy) meant a great deal to me.
Secondly I saw other young people in the clinic! Real life young people - not like the ones you see on the front of diabetes leaflets, but people who still had all of their limbs, and were smiling too… always a good sign when you’re in a hospital! Then whilst I was sat in my consultant’s office the DSN who ran my education course (JIGSAW) popped her head round the door to say hi and comment on my hair. The fact that she’d noticed I’d changed my hair made me smile because it showed she was thinking about me… me and not my diabetes, me and not my hospital number, me and not my a1c result.
Next up was my consultant who spent over an hour with me; listening to me talk about my obstacles, concerns, frustrations, achievements etc. An hour is a long time for an appointment, but in the last 1.5 years I’ve never had an appointment that’s been less than an hour long! I thought about what he could have gotten done apart from listening to me rattle on, but he sat and focused on me. He even laughed at my awful jokes!
In that hour he reviewed my blood glucose readings from the past 90 days, set me up with a CGM (as promised) for a week to assess night time hypos, talked to me about the process of getting an insulin pump, talked me through my test results and even discussed a persistent problem (unrelated to diabetes) that I’ve had for 4 years which my GP, sadly, hasn’t been successful in treating.
I’m pleased that my consultant's recognise that 10-15 minutes isn’t long enough for me to get to where I need to be. I know that I won’t always need such long appointments, however I am confident that should I ever need more they will be there for me.
I left the hospital with another appointment booked for 2 weeks time on a day and time that suited me. Then I thought to myself about how lucky I am to have such a dedicated and supportive team who have the tools to help me with my diabetes management.
I hear stories every day about people who can’t see any member of their diabetes team if they have problems, need to take days off work just for one appointment, don’t have access to CGMs and won’t be funded for insulin pumps. Unfortunately that list goes on and the people who suffer at the end of the day are the patients. They lose faith in the system and just have to… get by.
This truly makes me appreciate what I’ve got, because I know that come September I won’t be seen at this hospital anymore and I’m already starting to fear that move. I’ve seen that one of my previous consultants from the same hospital has posted a blog that he’s written about Utopian care in the diabetes department. Based on what I saw yesterday and the support I’ve had over the past 1.5 years I can definitely say that from my point of view… the diabetes team at Queen Alexandra hospital, Portsmouth, is doing all they can to win the fight for Utopian care.
I hope that other diabetes teams take notice… and that soon everyone can walk away from an appointment with a smile.