Yesterday my general practitioner called me. Since I had missed a call from them several weeks ago and forgotten to call back, I decided I had better answer this one. That was a decision I later regretted.
It became apparent shortly into the conversation that the sole purpose of the call was to try to get me in for a diabetes wellness exam. Now, were I not seeing a specialist four times a year -- if I were, say, one of those diabetics who completely neglects their health -- I would completely understand their concerns. But I told the woman on the other end, repeatedly, that I see an endocrinologist every three months.
She started out by asking when the last time was that I was in for a diabetes wellness exam (as if she didn't have my records right there in front of her, I'll bet). I explained that I go to a well known diabetes specialist in town four times a year. Then she said that they were trying to get all their diabetic patients to come into the office for a diabetes wellness exam once a year, and tried to tell me I should schedule an appointment. I explained again that I already see someone for my diabetes, and it would not make sense to see a second doctor, especially when it was only going to be a cursory appointment.
From there, she peppered me with questions about when my last appointment at the diabetes clinic was, who my doctor there is, when my last blood draw was, when my last dental exam was, my last eye exam, etc. And periodically she repeatedly revisited the subject of me coming in for an exam. It was almost like she didn't believe me that I was being seen by another doctor -- or perhaps like my general practitioner's clientele has fallen, and they were trying to drum up business by coercing patients to come in for exams.
Every time I thought I'd gotten rid of the woman and answered something to her satisfaction, she would come up with another question. Her very last attempt was the question, "Do you follow a diabetic diet?" I couldn't help but laugh, because this kind of thing is exactly why I am not going to see a general practitioner about my diabetes.
As a type 1 diabetic, I don't follow a "diabetic diet" -- I carb count, and determine by shots of short-acting insulin according to what I am eating. The fact that the woman from my general practitioner's office asked about whether I follow a diabetic diet makes me think she probably thought I was type 2 (or doesn't know the difference -- and there is a very big one, trust me), or doesn't know that there are better ways to treat type 1 these days, or both. I explained that I don't follow a diabetic diet, that I take 1 unit per 15 grams of carbs (though I doubt she understood what I meant), and that's between me and my endocrinologist.
The thing is, general practitioners don't always have the special knowledge to offer the best care for patients with something like diabetes. My endocrinologist went to school specifically for this sort of thing, and sees diabetes patients all day long. And the clinic is part of the local university hospital, so all the doctors there are up-to-date on the latest treatment information for diabetets. There IS a difference in care that you can get from a specialist versus your general practitioner, and I highly recommend making the switch if you haven't already!