Burnout and Patient Shaming

I slacked off in 2016, canceling my doctors appointments and not rescheduling them. 

Yes, I’m aware that’s terrible. 

Yes, I’m aware that’s dangerous. 

I’m also aware that I was still adamantly monitoring my A1C through my Dexcom, had no instances of DKA, was never hospitalized, and never ran out of supplies because my doctor kept approving the prescriptions. 

It isn’t an excuse to those in the healthcare field, but to those of us with chronic illnesses, we get it. We understand that the appointments are overwhelming. The tests are frustrating and annoying. The battle with insurance is never-ending. 

And sometimes, you just need a damn break. So that’s what I did. 

Now I’m getting back on the wagon. I saw my endo a couple weeks ago, and saw my eye doctor yesterday for the yearly diabetic eye exam. 


I passed. I still have 20/20 vision, and I have no signs of diabetic retinopathy. 

But I didn’t miss the judgement in the doctors voice, that I hadn’t been there since April 2015. That I didn’t have an up-to-date A1C number and the estimate of 7.2 from Dexcom Clarity “really should be closer to 6.0.”

I hear you judging me, but I also hear that your perfectly functioning pancreas keeps you going every day. You don’t face the battles I do. You don’t have to hope to God you’re going to be able to pay for your deductible because you meet it in January every year. You don’t have to stab yourself over and over and over again.  You’ve never dealt with burnout from this horrible condition that you didn’t cause or ask for. 


Shaming me for my actions isn’t a solution. If anything, it only makes me hate you more and not want to do better. It makes me feel like the things I have accomplished – like the fact that I received a promotion to middle management last year, played a sport and still managed to keep myself alive – mean absolutely nothing to you. It makes me feel like the fact that I’m still out here kicking ass doesn’t matter because my A1C isn’t a 6.0 (which, by the way, A1C isn’t a good marker for diabetes care anyway!) 

A little compassion goes a long way. Rather than chastising me for not coming in for an appointment for the last year, maybe try asking me what I have been up to in that time? When I indulge that I played softball, ask how that affected my blood sugar – was it difficult to deal with, did I tend to run low or high during games? If you act like I’m more than just an A1C number, I’ll be a lot more receptive to your advice and suggestions. 


So please, keep your judgment to yourself, healthcare professionals. I already know that I didn’t and don’t do things to your standards, and ultimately I am accountable for my actions. 

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2 Comments

Filed under Accountability, Real life

2 responses to “Burnout and Patient Shaming

  1. Abby,

    I get it. The medical community is chock-full of smart people- many of whom have a low “Emotional I.Q.”. They sometimes make me wonder why they ever wanted to become healers in the first place (kind of like those wackadoo’s who go into psychology…to help others with their problems- because the mentally-ill are better at treating it?).
    As a Type II whose maintenance drugs impair my pancreatic function, I am drawn strongly to the ketogenic diet; probably the opposite direction you would go in, but I digress..), so I get your frustration, totally. Sometimes I just want to go to Costa Rica to live…and die. But that would break my partner’s heart, and she’s much to good to me (and for me) for me to act so selfishly.
    So, I appreciate you blog, your struggles (insurance “policy” has made it to the top of my 4-letter word list (lol), and your ability to grow past it all and be yourself and live your life on your terms. YEAYS for You!

    I/m bookmarking your blog. Maybe I’ll send you pics from our upcoming trip to the UP (we’re going to Mackinaw Island!).

    All the best,

    David (aka “the raging Scotsman”- my social media persona)

  2. Yes!!! I found a new GP that I thought I was getting along with fabulously…even complimented me on my A1c which was not quite at target, then when he noticed me treating a hypo went into judge mode and said I couldnt be well controlled after all if I had hypos. Bah!

    Congrats on your promotion & living life despite diabetes. Great achievements.

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