Even the Experts Don’t Really Understand

I had an appointment with the endocrinologist last Wednesday. Nothing special there as they happen every 3 months, the only difference being that, because of the virus, this one was done over the phone. For those readers not in the diabetes community, an “endo” is a specialist doctor who looks after things to do with diabetes.

We went through the normal rigmarole, with her satisfying herself that I’m doing the right things and am not about to drop dead. This endo and I have a good relationship. The first time we met I said that I’ll teach her about T1D things that she can’t learn at school. She has come to realise that I wasn’t joking and has learned quite a bit since then.

After we’d been through the mechanical part of the appointment, and had a few jokes, with her pretending to be in charge and me jokingly reminding her of our positions, I mentioned to her that I had requested my medical record from the hospital where I was diagnosed with T1D 46 years ago. I needed the medical record so that I was prepared for when I apply for the Kellion medal when I reach the 50 year mark with T1D. The Kellion medal is the recognition you can get in Australia for living with T1D for more than 50 years. It doesn’t mean anything except for being a pat on the back for the hard work.

The doctor was a little bit surprised. I expanded by saying that after 46,000 injections, a small pat on the back would be nice to have. She was surprised – “Really? You’ve had that many injections?” she asked. I told her that in fact I’ve had more than that, but I was just rounding off. At 4 per day, which is what I currently have, if you round down to 1000 injections per year, there’s 46,000.

Surprisingly for me, the doctor had never considered that simple bit of arithmetic. As she quickly considered my 46 years and the number of injections I must have had over the years, she told  me that it was quite a confronting thought for her. We left the conversation there so she could contact her next patient, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she somehow only thought of the rare days we speak, every 3 months, and the rest of the time, the other 89 days, doesn’t enter her thinking.

The real number is more than 46,000, but that’s not important. The first of the important points are that not even the expert doctor had ever considered the second point, being that living with T1D is truly non-stop, and for me has been for 46 years. Every minute of every hour of every day for over 16,790 days, I have never been allowed to forget that I live with T1D. If I do push it to the back of my mind at any point, the chances are I won’t wake up in the morning.

I was surprised the doctor had never considered that.

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