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Diabetes: A Good Doctor is the Difference Between Living or Not


12 January 2010

Diabetes: A Good Doctor is the Difference Between Living or Not

Dr. Andrew Drexler is one of the most thorough, intelligent, helpful, no-nonsense, (under-recognized), candid, dedicated, (humorous) physicians I have ever met over the course of having diabetes -- that's 35 years!  I still don't think that any of these superlatives do him justice.  Why?   He saved my life.  Twice.  Then he saved another life.  And I know I am in good company as I recently found out that he takes care of Chief Justice Sotomayor too - although he would never dare tell me -- that confidentiality is sacred.

So it was with satisfaction that I read his name in USA Today this morning under the headline, Type 1 Affects Every Aspect of Daily Life, and speaking from his heart about diabetes to the USA Today reporter, Dr. Andrew Drexler says:

"It is always there. You can never get away from it."

Andy Drexler was never one to mince words.

I first met him in 1995 while I was living/working in Manhattan; a friend had introduced me to another Type 1 named Fran Carpentier, and she gave me Andrew Drexler's details.  I owe her thanks too, because at that first appointment I was scared and rather ill.  I was working 15 hour days in NYC and I could just feel the sticky weightiness of a high A1c.  It was over 11.  I was upset and embarrassed - I cried, and he didn't mind a bit.  "Give yourself a break kid -- we'll work on this together - even though it may take a little while"  and sounding just like a modern day Groucho Marx he cocked his head and led me into another room to meet the other most fantastic person in the practice world - Carolyn Robertson - the diabetes specialist for training and managing blood sugars - APRN, MSN, CDE.  You get the idea.  Within months, I was down to a 7 A1c.

Fast forward five years later.  I am working in London and a newlywed.  I have been told in no uncertain terms (and even with a hint of sarcasm) "Do not get pregnant just yet.  We need to get your pump sorted" But I did, and I called the Mount Sinai clinic in 2000 to tell Andy the news.  He wasn't happy, but underscored the high-risk necessity of my finding the right obstetrician and the right hospital.  It wasn't long before I moved back to Manhattan - London just didn't have what I needed.  During my 26th week of pregnancy, and while walking along one of the vast Upper West-side corridors - Columbus Avenue - I collapsed.  I was immediately hospitalized.  Everything (the cardiologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists and any other care) was all orchestrated by Andy.  I stayed in the Mount Sinai Hospital until she was born by emergency c-section, eight weeks later.   Dr. Andrew Drexler had saved my life again x 2.

Today Andrew Drexler and Carolyn Robertson still work together, although the Diabetes Clinic at Mount Sinai (where Andy was Director) closed down a few years back.  No matter, he was soon scooped up by LA and  is now Director of the Gonda Diabetes Center at UCLA.  What a loss for New York. (Mayor Bloomberg - are you reading this?)  Carolyn Robertson still practices in Manhattan (NY) but flies out to LA once a month to spend time with Andy's patients. I believe they care for patients from all over the world- not just the lucky ones in Santa Monica.  I flew over to LA last summer to see them, and will probably go back this spring.

In fact I may just have to move to Los Angeles (I hate the place) but that's just how good he is.


Anonymous Scott R. King said...

I have a similar story. I have been T1D since 1978. I was part of a clinical study on the effects on exercise on diabetes in NYC in 1980. Dr. Drexler was newly back in NYC after his residency and, wandering by the study in progress, observed the medical student working on me abusing my veins trying to get the varoius IV lines in. He stepped in and rescued my from harm. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

He (and Carol) have been my diabetes advisors for thirty years. Kidneys and all still work and my eye doctor says my retina is a miracle of preservation.

Andy and Carol both sit on the advisory board for our islet transplantation research in collaboration with University of California. I have nothing but good things to say about them.

Scott R. King

9:05 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Dr D will probably hate me saying any of the following. As Elizabeth's husband we had a number of frank and startling conversations and saw firsthand how he was crucial in protecting and saving the life of Elizabeth and our now nine-year old daughter. I learned a great deal about smart and compassionate medical care from Drexler and doubt there is anyone better and perhaps underappreciated in his field. He saw and treated countless patients of all demographics in NY whether or not they could afford the treatment...always putting the patient first. Andrew also once said that he expected/hoped that most of the major diseases would be better understood if not cured in the next 100 years. With a few more doctors like Andrew Drexler and a few more advocate patients like Elizabeth we just might get there. Both remain sanguine and optimistic, overwhelmed and encouraged by results every day, soldiers and leaders in this fight one patient, one day at a time.

3:57 AM  

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