Before the close of Women’s History Month, I’m sharing something that has been on my mind for quite some time.
My history with Women’s Health has its fair share of ups and downs, from my first Pap Smear at 20 years old to the one I had last month.
From a woman Gynecologist in Florida who misdiagnosed me with PCOS (after asking about the few chin hairs she saw) and prescribed a medication that caused serve hemorrhaging, to a male Gynecologist in Pennsylvania who did further testing a year later and thoroughly explained my hormone levels were within normal range while reassuring me that obesity, a little facial hair, and irregular cycles were not enough to give that type of diagnosis.
From a male Obstetrician in North Carolina who aggressively told me that I needed to be on birth control because I could have a deformed child as a woman with diabetes (the same week the State of NC awarded a 10 million dollar settlement to a number of Black women who were racially profiled and forcefully sterilized by a State program), to an outstanding woman Obstetrician who saved my life by honoring my request to have Type 1 diabetes antibody testing when no Endocrinologist would run the tests in spite of me asking at every visit for a year and seeking a second opinion. I am forever grateful to the amazing doctors in Women’s Health.
While my experiences with various Women’s Health HCPs have ranged from terrible to terrific, two things that have remained the same over the years: clear visual charts listing my options for contraceptives and a stigma-free atmosphere during and after my selection process. Over the years there have been new developments, like the female condom, that required expanding the chart, but the basic principles remain the same.
Principle 1: Show me all the options, including not using any contraceptives
Principle 2: Explain the effectiveness for each in preventing pregnancy
Principle 3: Give me the opportunity to choose what I feel is best for my body and permission to change my mind
It’s so simple. It’s so clear. It’s so “patient-friendly.”
When my friends and I talk about our choices, most of us have tried at least two forms of birth control because we discovered that we were too busy or forgetful to take a pill daily, so we chose an implant, or we were fed up with medications and used condoms, or we were madly in love and open to the higher possibility of pregnancy that comes along with the rhythm method. We’ve all felt free to choose what’s best for our bodies at a given time and free of judgement from others.
Sadly, this is not a freedom I feel in my diabetes treatment options.
I’m not shown visually appealing charts of all my diabetes treatment options. And even for this blog post, I could only find this unappealing chart without images.
As with contraceptive options, I want to see diabetes treatment options in clear visuals, easy to read print, and in a color palate that is pleasing to my eyes.
I want to know ALL of my diabetes treatment options.
I want to know how effective each option is and how it works.
I want to feel free of stigma and shame when I choose an injection.
I want to feel welcomed to try something else if I don’t like the side effects of my choice.
I want to know that injections aren’t the only way to take insulin and I want access to alternatives.
I want to know that medication-free (diet and exercise only) is an option for some people long term, some people short term, and others not at all. And one is not better than the other.
I want to be included in the decision process and feel in charge of my selection.
I want to move through society seen as a responsible person who’s taking care of their diabetes no matter the treatment choice.
I want to feel free to experiment and not have that experiment be looked down upon as I have “the bad type of diabetes” or that I’m “non-compliant.”
I want to feel empowered that I had all the information I need to make the best choice for me in that moment.
I want to know that there is a such thing as “off label” prescriptions if I felt that one option would tremendously help me.
I want my diabetes treatment options like my contraceptive options-simple, clear, and judgement-free.
Is that too much to ask?