Today was my first personal adventure into the Kaiser for healthcare and meeting my new doc. But before I get into that, I am already frustrated with the website and healthcare madness. I just received my new card in the mail today (up until now I have been using my application and the medical record number supplied to me by their very efficient billing department to schedule appointments by phone and obtain services) and went to set up my online account. Except I already have an online account (comes from being the account manager at work, I suppose) which has conveniently be locked down, because I apparently failed the password test. So I had to call in to get it unlocked and am now waiting another 3 to 5 days for the password to arrive via snail mail.
I explained my frustration in the most courteous and professional terms possible to the customer service rep that I spoke with. After dealing with all sorts of red-tape crap waiting for the magic cards to arrive, I was really not in the mood to deal with this level of aggravation.
So as I started this post, I had my first meeting/appointment with my new endocrinologist. I have yet to meet my actual primary care guy (that’s next month), but I have been assigned an endocrinologist. He and my former endocrinologist are friends and the latter gave my new guy a hearty thumbs up, so I had high hopes that he would be someone I could work with in a positive way going forward. This is Kaiser, after all. Recollections of the system from my youth (now running through my head like a black and white rerun) had me very concerned I’d be training a new doc how to best communicate and work with me.
No such issue with this guy. If anything, he’s terrifyingly optimistic and progressive in his thinking and communication style. And I mean that in the nicest possible manner.
He’s youngish, or like my former doc he wears his age well. From his photos I thought he might be a runner, but in person I’d say he’s more a gym and weights guy and perhaps a hobbyist runner. He’s bulky with pretty muscles under the lab coat. Reminds me of trainer J in that way, only a little taller, significantly darker, and just a hair less handsome
Anyway, he’s enthusiastic and effusive in my recent trend of managing my diabetes. We quickly reviewed my history and what remaining medications I am taking, how it affects me (fewer lows but they still happen), what I was taking before it was changed, any supplements (vitamin D, fish oil, and milk thistle), my vices (I suppose chocolate and Mexican coke with real sugar count in this category) and lifestyle habits. He quizzed me extensively about lifestyle habits, was delighted to hear I am going to the gym so regularly and getting plenty of exercise (and thus guilting me into going this evening when I wanted to bail and sit around fuming at the madness of technology). There were also kudos for engaging a personal trainer and impressed-sounding comments about the routines J has designed for me, followed by another “you do this daily?” question, to which I clarified I try very hard to do at least 3 sets of some combination of lists daily. Big happy smiles at that – I think he likes it when patients exercise. If he were to advise me to change anything, he would like to see me progressively lifting more weights as I am able to do so safely, because he believes it would be enormously beneficial to my overall health. He repeated it twice, emphasizing the safely adding weights to ensure I understood him.
I think my head did a complete 360 turn on my shoulders during this conversations. WTF? I thought you were a doctor. I thought you would tell me to get at least 30 minutes of walking 3 to 5 days per week and to watch my carb consumption. Who are you and why are impersonating a physician? Don’t you know physicians only dispense generic advice that does not offend or really impact their patient’s sedentary, hedonistic lifestyles? Doctors do not typically espouse the benefits of squats and weights and resistance training, yet here we are, talking about squats and dumbbells and resistance training.
And what does “more” weights mean exactly? Like higher volumes of pounds? Do more sets and reps? Emailing minds want to know, but I was in such shock during out conversation I completely disconnected what he said and what it means to me. Next appointment I shall be armed with a long list of questions to ask.
From the weight training he neatly segued in the next breath to tell me that I should put forth some concerted effort into getting leaner (the really kinder, gentler way of saying please lose some weight). His recommendation is that I work with a dietitian to develop a sustainable eating plan emphasizing protein and plant-based carbohydrates to make that happen. It will take hard work and discipline to learn new habits, but considering what I was doing 6 months ago and what I am doing now, it is an attainable goal. He has faith in me.
Okay, that makes one of us.
After waiting for him for over an hour, I walked out of there after our 48 minute conversation in a daze. Did I just meet with my new endocrinologist or someone aspiring to being a life coach? Honestly, it was refreshing and terrifying all at once. But I like him. We spent a lot of time talking about where I am right now and where I would like to get to with regard to my overall health and wellness. I was mesmerized and back to nodding and smiling, wondering what sort of new healthcare I have wandered into with this doc. He’s the energizer bunny on steroids about improving my overall health, and while he cannot offer me guarantees that following his advice about dropping weight and continuing with my training, he does feel that my already good quality of life will continue to improve.
So next week I am meeting with a dietitian. What he/she is going to tell me is a big giant mystery, but I have to come back to get labs done mid-February and meet with the doc again after that. In the interim I am to continue my 4x daily testing and to email him if I have a low event (if I can ever get logged into the kp.org website to email anyone). Our next meeting will possibility result in medication adjustments, or possibly just another peppy talk and discussion of what I am doing in the gym by then. He is so different I simply have no idea what to expect.
What I do know is that this particular Kaiser doctor is absolutely nothing like what I imagined. Like when I first met J and began the training adventure, I am intimidated and unsure of myself and having some anxiety about my potential for success and willingness to stick with the program. In absolute truth my continuing commitment surprises me just about every day that I walk into the gym and get going on whatever I decide to do that day.
But I am learning from firsthand experience that good things happen. Even to those of us who doubt ourselves and our ability to achieve success.