As most of you know, my son is a Type 1 diabetic. We found out three years ago, and we have made it a part of life and are dealing with it. This is a completely manageable disease, and I am thankful that none of my kids have anything worse. All I need is some good counting skills, a little sense in what we eat, and a good doctor to write the prescriptions I need for Little Man. Sounds easy enough, right? You would think!
All of those things have been fairly easy to come by, except the part about the doctor. When Little Man was first diagnosed, we were referred to a doctor who practices about two hours away from us. "Ummm, can't we get anything closer?" I asked our pediatrician. "Nope. He's it." WHAT?? What do you mean, "He's it."? That made no sense to me. There are doctors on every street of our town - OK, practically every street. Why did I have to drive two hours to see this guy.
Apparently, pediatric endocrinologists are hard to come by. They are few and far between in my state. The doctor we saw was the nearest one to us. So we began making the drive, and we did so every three months for two years. BUT, yay hooray, a new lady doctor came to a town that was a little closer to us, so we switched to her to save a little time in driving and money in eating out.
We LOVED this new doctor, because, not only was she about thirty minutes closer, she had nice office staff and her practice was in a small building with the parking lot right in front of the door. Yeah, I know, that doesn't really sound too thrilling to all of you. But, with our last doctor who had his office inside of a hospital, we had to park several blocks away and make the trek inside through rain, shine, heat, cold, and traffic to see him. So a parking lot right in front of the small building was certainly on my list of things I liked about this new doctor.
We have seen her for a year now, and we really like her. She has been very helpful, and she is always very nice. But go figure, she's moving! When I found out last week that she would be moving to another state, I was very disappointed. Her reason for going? You can't make a profit in pediatric endocrinology in this state. Figures.
So now, I am looking to make the drive back to our old doctor again who is two hours away, if he hasn't got so many patients now that he can't take us. If that is the case, We're looking at a minimum of two and a half hours for a drive every three months to go see a completely new doctor. Now, I know most of you are probably thinking, "So just make a day of it. It's only every three months." But if you have never made that drive over and over and over and over again, and if you have never paid for the gas to go four times a year, and if you've never accounted for the meal that you will be eating out every trip (because an appointment that far away always means you will be there around a meal time), and if you've not thought about the full day that it takes you away from a job or, in my case, my other kids and homeschooling, you really can't understand what a burden this is. At first, it didn't seem like a big deal. We'd just make a day of it and make it fun. But after you have made that trip so many times, and you realize there is no end anywhere in sight (because an adult doctor won't take him until he's at least 13), it becomes a great burden. I was not looking forward to jumping back in that boat again.
What really gets me is this. Why is it that, in every other field of medicine, there seem to be so many doctors that you can take your pick from the ones available? Why is it that colleges are filled to the brim with upcoming doctors and nurses of every kind ready to tackle heart disease, cancer, brain tumors, back pain, general practices, and everything else in between? Why is it that I can find a doctor for any other problem I or my kids or husband may have, including pediatric issues, except when it comes to a pediatric endocrinologist? Why is everyone lined up to be every other kind of doctor except a pediatric endocrinologist?
I know my son is not the only Type 1 diabetic around. And the endocrine system is made up of WAY more than just the pancreas, the problems of which cause diabetes. I just do not understand what it is about this field of medicine that makes upcoming doctors steer clear of this field. I cannot understand why, in my state, we have only a hand full of these doctors, and most are more than five hours from me.
So now, I am back to the drawing board. I will be calling tomorrow to try to get an appointment with our previous doctor, and I am just praying that he will take us back again.
So the lesson to learn here is this: If any of your kids are interested in going into medicine, you should really encourage them to become a pediatric endocrinologist. They would be guaranteed to have a full patient load immediately. There is a great, great need for more of these doctors.