What to Say to Your Doctor

By: Riva Greenberg, author,Huffington Postcolumnist, speaker and health coach.

Recently the American Diabetes Association added individualized therapy to its practice guidelines. No longer are those of us with diabetes to be seen as identical; practitioners are encouraged to create individual treatment plans for, and with, their patients.

We can actually help our provider do that by doing two things. An important step is knowing what to say.In this excerpt fromRivas book Diabetes Dos & How-Tos, an instruction manual for what to do and how to do it to best manage your diabetes,she shares how to get the most out of our visits with our health care professionals.

Bring Your Doctor These Questions

Youll get the mostout of your doctor visit if you bring questions andyoure honest and open. As for the latter part, share any concerns youhave about aches or pains, family history, bodily changes from the lastvisit, or physical sensations youve noticed. Something diabetes-relatedmay be happening and it will pay to catch it early. If youre just feelingblue, share that too.

Dont let fears, worries, embarrassment or guilt stop you from talkingfrankly with your doctor. Shes not there to judge you, but to helpyou. If you havent been doing a stellar job managing your diabetesifyou slid on doing your blood sugar checks for days or weeks, fell offyour eating plan more days than you care to count, forgot to take yourmeds a few days last week, even if you feel like you are the laziest, mostshameful person walking the Earthdont lie. (That cartoon with thetwo meters is just thata cartoon we can all identify with, but its meantto make you laugh, not do!) Trust me, you arent the only one your docsgoing to see that day who didnt turn in a picture-perfect performance.

Dr. David Agus is an international leader for new approaches inpersonalized health care and professor of medicine at the University ofSouthern California, Keck School of Medicine. He says the knowledgeyou carry about yourself is more essential to your wellness than yourdoctors knowledge. So hiding your several trips to the bathroom duringthe night, or the tingling youve noticed in your foot since your lastvisit, can do you harm. Dr. Agus is so emphatic that he also says if youfeel you cant talk to your doctor, find another doctor!

Youll also get more out of your visit if you ask your doctor questionsthat will help you understand your condition better and what todo next. A number of recommended questions follow the How-Tosbelow. Dont feel like youre being disrespectful by asking your doctorquestions. Any good doctor will appreciate that you want to be involvedin your care. Also, make sure you understand the answers to your questions.

If you dont, ask your doctor to explain what they mean. The moreyou show up for your office visit, the better youll be able to take careof yourself after you leave.


  • Bring a friend or loved one with you. They can help be a secondset of eyes and ears.
  • Bring paper and pen to write down your doctors answers.

Your Choice of More How-Tos

  • Think about anything youre concerned about before your office visit,write it down, and bring it to your health care provider to discuss. Wetend to forget things when were nervous or in the short amount of timewe have with our doctor.
  • While talking with your doctor, mention what comes to mind even ifyou think it might be unimportant. This might be just the informationyour doctor needs to know to help you.
  • If your doctor has prescribed a new medicine, make sure you understandwhat its for, when to take it, how much to take, what to do if youforget to take it, and if there are any side effects.
  • If your doctor gives you any instructions, write them down beforeyou leave his offi ce so youll know what to do when you get home.

Questions to help you get the most out of your visit:

  1. How am I doing?
  2. If youve recently had any lab work or tests, ask:
    • What were the results of my lab tests?
    • What do they mean?
    • What should I do to improve my numbers?
    • Can I have a copy of my results?
  3. Is it time for me to have an A1C test? (An A1C test tells you your blood sugaraverage over the past two to three months. You should have the test two to fourtimes a year.)
  4. How often should I check my blood sugar? or, Can we discuss the blood sugarresults I brought?
  5. Whats going well so far? and What am I doing well?
  6. If you need help, Can you help me with my meal and physical activity plans?
  7. What should I focus on now?
  8. Who else should I see for my diabetes care?
  9. Would you please examine my feet and take my blood pressure?

Riva Greenberg
DPE, Author, Certified Health Coach

Books:Diabetes Dos & How-Tos;50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life;The ABCs of Loving Yourself With Diabetes

Huffington Postcolumnist

Additional Resources:


Patients Guide to Individualizing Therapy
Staying at the Center of My Healthcare


A Real A1C

Diabetes Forecast

Health Report checklist, listing recommended goals for important annual (or more frequently as needed) lab tests and checks
How to set up a treatment plan
Stress (and distress) self-care:


For those who have had a history of an eating disorder:

Diabetes Daily (Ginger)

Things I Wish My Doctor Would Ask!

Moments of Wonderful

Did we cover all your questions?
http://momentsofwonderful.com/2012/05/did-we-cover-all-your-questions/Diabetes Blog Week Day 1 Dear Doc



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