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How I Became an Empowered Patient

Before I get into the how I became an empowered patient, I want to briefly talk about why I became one. First, what is an empowered patient? This question was brought up during the #ChatActChange #DSMA last Wednesday. To me, an empowered patient is someone who takes an active role in managing their illness, disease, disorder, etc. For me, that is taking an active role in managing my diabetes, not just from the “I test my blood sugar 6 times  a day” perspective, but from a more in depth one.

For example, I decided one day that just simply listening to what my endo and educator was telling me was not enough. I wanted to go and read more about these studies that they were talking about so we could have an actual conversation during our visits and it not just be a one way instructional visit. I wanted to not just do what I was being told to do, but I wanted to know why I was being told this and I also wanted to know if this really was the best thing for me to be doing.

Once I knew that I wanted to be a bit more involved, it was easy from there. I started to read more and consume more. I started to read about more of the science behind diabetes. I began to read as much from the ADA Scientific Sessions free posters that I could. I admit, 90% didn’t make sense, but I took notes and wrote things down and knew that I would go back later and start researching more of those words.

I began to learn more about different products and medications.

The very first time that I went into a visit with my CDE and I said, “hey, I read an ADA Scientific Sessions poster on the effects of wheat and gut bacteria….blah blah blah” I could see the look in her eyes like, wow this guy knows his shit. From that day forward, I had a lot more respect from my CDE as a patient and had a lot more involvement in my management.

Now, my visits start off with a conversation. My CDE asking me to evaluate myself and recommend my own changes and then she chimes in with her input and we come to a mutual decision on the next plan of action.

Having that feeling of knowing that I have the respect from my doctor has completely changed the way that I view my healthcare team. And I think it would for you also.