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Why Having My Doctor as a Confidant Matters

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In the last month, I have visited my podiatrist three times.

She always fits me in on Thursday afternoons as the day is winding down. She knows I come straight from work, and I might be a few minutes past my 4 p.m. time slot.

She’s always smiling, greeting me pleasantly and with true regard.

She also knows the weight I carry.

The heavy, relentless luggage that follows me everywhere but takes me no place exotic.

She knows I have to choose between leaving work early and getting my toenail worked on, or waiting it out and possibly developing a life-altering infection.

She knows all of this. And she understands it when so many people don’t.

I have a few things going on.

I have type 1 diabetes (21 years).

I have stage 2 kidney disease.

I have diabetic retinopathy (one of the leading causes of blindness).

And I have diabetic neuropathy. This has caused immense nerve pain and burning. My feet often go numb and I cannot feel my steps. And because I cannot feel, sometimes my toes become infected without my knowledge.

All in all, chronic illnesses take up days. No–they take up months of my life.

In the last 60 days, I have been to 15 doctors’ appointments.

I often feel comfortable in my doctors’ office rooms. I chat breezily with the office staff. And I find conversations easy with my physicians.

Don’t be confused. I don’t want to go to these appointments. I would give you my grandmother’s secret biscuit recipe to have a month without a doctor appointment.

It’s a side of life, and human interaction many “healthy” individuals may not see. A side they may never witness.

In this chronic illness world of coming and going, hurting and healing, breaking and fixing…relationships matter.

Patients come to rely on their doctors as a sort of confidant. And it matters.

It matters because the patients already have anxiety. They’re already facing fears many people can’t imagine.

So when the doctor says they can “fit you in” and will “take care of you anytime,” it matters.

It is ultimately a matter of the human connection. And that connection can only make things better.

Getty image via megaflopp.

Originally published: October 9, 2019
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