There’s no I in TEAM (but there is ME)

I read a something the other day that gave a warning to “consult with your medical team” or “check with your team of doctors”, before proceeding. I can’t remember which one it was, but you can pick just about any diabetes publication out there and you’ll see that phrase.

TEAM.

It’s a great concept — that of a team. A group of people who work together, help each other, and strive for a common goal. A team shares in the glory of victory and the agony of defeat.

For my son and his soccer team, the “team” concept is a lesson-in-progress. When kindergarteners are involved, a game consists of a mob of kids in two different colored shirts swarming around a rolling black-and-white ball. Each tries to kick the ball, even if another kid wearing the same color already has control of it. They don’t understand teamwork yet, but hopefully by the end of this (or next) year, they will.

Still, lots of people don’t. There’s a popular saying in sports that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back. The meaning is that the team means more than the individual. The message is reinforced in the locker-rooms of even the world’s greatest professional athletes.

But what’s with all this talk of a “medical team” and of my doctors being a part of my team? Is there a “team” relationship between people with diabetes and their doctors? Because I’ve never seen it that way.

A recent blog post at Her Sugary Reason put it in a way that is more poignant than I could ever come up with. You’ll have to click over there to read how it’s presented, but the point is this: she has four visits per year with her endo, about fifteen minutes each. So, in a calendar year, she sees her doctor for one hour, and is on her own – making her own decisions – for  8765 hours.

A team-player doesn’t abandon his mates for 99.9% of the time.

Admittedly, I don’t call my doctor every time my blood sugar is above 240 mg/dl, below 60, or when I have ketones in my urine. I most certainly don’t confer with a dietitian before every meal to see if our carb-estimates agree, and the office receptionist won’t “substitute in” when it’s time to order supplies or battle with the insurance company.

On the Scott’s Diabetes Team stats-sheet (not to be confused with a different Scott’s blog of the same name), I take 100% of the shots. I’ve committed 100% of the errors. Every time my CGM graph crosses the line, I’m the one who went offsides. The yellow caution flag waves because of me. I’m the one in foul trouble. (How many other sports metaphors can I come up with?)

I do indeed have medical advisers, and I appreciate them. I give them money and they give me prescriptions. They give me suggestions, too, and the suggestions can be quite valuable. But I don’t regard them as part of my “team”. They don’t make the day-to-day decisions or sacrifices. I wouldn’t even call them coaches, because most of the time they’re not standing behind me at the bench giving feedback. They’re more like TV studio analysts, opining on the choices I made earlier and what I should try to do later. Never in real-time.

This isn’t a complaint — it’s the way I always expect it would be. Unless I’m lying in a hospital bed (and maybe even if I am), I call the shots, not my doctors. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I have a group of medical consultants (in fact, that’s just what they call them in some other countries), but they are not involved enough to be considered part of my team.

My name is on the back of my jersey — and the front. I am a team of one.

* * *

Note: This post is strictly about the concept of a “medical team” or a “team of doctors.” I do not, in any way, suggest that family and loved ones fall in the same category, as they are often much more intimately involved and affected than the trained professionals. But no one ever wrote a disclaimer advising a PWD to consult their husband or wife before making changes in medical treatment.

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Posted on May 2, 2013, in Diabetes. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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