Appointments left me feeling small
To the outside world, Muhammad Ismail gave off every appearance of living a busy and fulfilled life. Living with type 1 since the age of two-and-a-half, Muhammad seemed to be managing his condition and coping well. But deep down, something wasn’t right.
I guess when ‘not being okay’ becomes routine, it ends up being normal.
Muhammad says he now knows he was suffering from diabetes burnout, something he never knew existed. His diabetes care started off positively, thanks to support from family and a caring specialist nurse, who encouraged him to manage his diabetes well, but not at the expense of his quality of life. As his care changed over the years and he moved from children’s to adult services, Muhammad felt increasingly frustrated by attending appointments with healthcare professionals who he felt lacked empathy or a desire to find out what was really happening with his condition.
I’d got to a point where I could get away with measuring my sugars infrequently, guess insulin doses extremely well, have limited hypos and have an HbA1c of below 6.5. I could manage exercise well and only really struggled when I went out for a three-course meal and dessert at a posh curry place
He says: But I couldn’t really see the point of bothering. My hospital appointments felt pointless. I’d turn up and be asked for my diary. When I said I didn’t have one, I’d be told off. Then they’d check my notes, scroll through my history and say ‘well done’. I often thought that was more out of shock than praise. No one ever apologised for making me feel small, they didn’t try to find out how I managed my condition or ask if there was anything they could do to help me. So, I’d be given an appointment for 12 months’ time and rush back to work.”
Working in a hospital with patients who were struggling with their diabetes, or complications, also took its toll.
"There were experiences with my job as a hospital pharmacist that would make me wonder why diabetes leads to so many bad outcomes, it would usually end up with me asking, ‘why bother?
It’s a lot easier to hide from a condition than grinding your way through your daily routine only to see others suffering when you don’t have the ability to influence or change their outcomes in a positive way. That stuff is soul destroying.”