CWD: Tell them the Surgeon General sent you

After the exciting opening of the exhibit hall, the next big event was the Opening Keynote Session Thursday morning. There were two keynote speakers, former US Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu and official “Diabetes DadTom Karlya. I want to do both amazing men justice so I was to talk about Dr. Moritsugu first.

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Moritsugu you can read more about him here or here. What those biographies don’t tell you is that Dr. Moritsugu is also a person with diabetes.

Former Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu


Admittedly, Dr. Moritsugu has had access to the best diabetes care possible, but he assured the audience that he “still has to deal with the day-to-day struggle”. In fact, during a recent bout with a severe cold, he ended up in the hospital with DKA. For him, that event emphasized the fact that we all need to have a diabetes support team. Those people might be our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and we shouldn’t be afraid to let them help us even when we don’t realize we need it.

One of Dr. Moritsugu’s other main points was the fact that we are largely a health illiterate society. In fact “only 12 percent of adults are health literate“. That is a shocking number! Do 88% of us really not understand what our doctors are telling us?

Dr. Moritsugu charged each of us with making sure we understand exactly what the doctor is saying. “If you don’t understand, stop the doctor and ask him to explain.”

“If the doctor asks why, say the Surgeon General says so.”


Former Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu


Taking this advice to heart, I finally called my endo’s office back after playing phone tag last week. I had to switch to a new endo after my last one left the practice. After my first appointment with him, I left the most disappointed and frustrated I have ever been after an appointment. When I tried to switch to another endo in the practice after my lab draw two weeks ago, it sounded like they were going to make me jump through hoops.

Today when we were dicussing my options for a follow-up appointment, I started to say “why don’t you tell me what my options are” but then quickly corrected myself and said to the nurse, “actually I know what my options are. I want to know what you are going to do.”

She has now sent the paperwork to the booking nurse to schedule me with hopefully a better endocrinologist. I strive to be as health literate as possible and I will not put up with a doctor that does not take the time to listen to me.


  • Wow. So amazing.

    And I am with you. If you don’t listen to ME, I am outta there. I am blessed to have an Endo that does listen. Mainly because I make him. But the fact that he puts up with me says a lot.

  • great post and thanks for the links.the man has been more than touched by his share of grief.thats sad.i like that hes involved

    in organ donating.but what a good guy!

    interesting . i dont question things right away i go home and reasearch.i wonder if its because im shocked when something new develop e’s? and i dont know the right questions to ask.

    something for me to think about

    thanks sara

  • Sara, I found the former SG a wonderful kick-off for the event. His message that it takes a strong a supportive team to encourage and keep yourself in check when you’re managing such a difficult thing is a wise one. It makes me so happy that we serve as part of a support network for so many.

  • @CALpumper – yes, I have ‘fired’ an endo before too. We are the ones dealing with this 24/7 so we have to be comfortable with the treatment we are receiving.

    @David – yes, I completely agree!

  • I think it is important to be in control of Diabetes which includes all the medical personnel we deal with. I think many doctors don’t want us to ask questions. Good for you for taking control.

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