A Letter to the Newly Diagnosed Type 2
I’m sorry. Learning that you have type 2 diabetes is simply awful. I know, I’ve been there. I was diagnosed over 10 years ago and I can still remember the confusion and uncertainty I felt. Depending on how much you knew about type 2 diabetes before you were diagnosed, what you’re feeling now may vary. However, there are a few things that I’m sure you’ve thought about:
- What can I eat?
- Do I have to take medication for the rest of my life?
- I don’t think I can do shots.
- What can I eat?
- Maybe it’s a mistake!
- This is my fault. If I’d only…
- Who do I listen to?
All really good questions (and yes, I realize that I listed what to eat twice. It’s a biggie). Something that most people don’t realize at first is that type 2 diabetes is a disease that requires you to take charge. That is both a blessing and a curse! We, as a society, are used to doctors telling us what we need to do in order to take care of an illness or a disease. We often sit back and wait to hear what to do. The unfortunate reality of type 2 diabetes is that not all doctors are up to speed on what is the best course of action for you to take. Couple that with the fact that your best treatment may only be found through trial and error and you may be looking at a frustrating path. Why? Because we’re all different and so is our diabetes. There is no “magic pill” or “one way” to deal with type 2 diabetes.
So as someone who has been at this for a while, here are my best answers to those questions you may have:
- What can I eat? Cutting back on processed foods is the best first step. Cook. Eat real food.
- Do I have to take medication for the rest of my life? Probably. It depends on where you are on your diabetes path. Serious changes to lifestyle can often help someone stop medication, but not always. If you must take medications, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t make you a failure.
- I don’t think I can do shots. Yes you can. If insulin or another injectable medication is deemed the best course of action for you, then you most certainly can do shots. It will take some practice, but you can do it.
- What can I eat? See above and I’ll add this: No one else knows what you can eat. Use your meter to determine how different foods affect your blood glucose and figure it out for yourself. What one person with diabetes can eat may not work for someone else.
- Maybe it’s a mistake! It’s not. Let yourself “grieve” for a bit and move on.
- This is my fault. "If I’d only…" This is just as big as “what can I eat?” You did not cause your diabetes. It is not your fault. I don’t care what anyone says, you are not to blame. Forget the past and look ahead to a healthier you through changes that you can make.
- Who do I listen to? Listen to yourself. Listen to your body. Pay attention to your meter. Do NOT listen to: the media telling you that it’s your fault, the stories about how your friend’s mother’s next-door neighbor lost their leg, anyone who tells you that you can eat anything you want, snake-oil cures. Doctors and diabetes educators can advise you on a course of action, but only you can figure out the path that works best for you.
It all seems daunting; it’s not. It can be depressing; it is on occasion. All of the changes you need to make seem impossible, but if you take them one at a time they are doable. You did not develop your diabetes overnight, don’t feel as if you have to tame it quickly.
I repeat: I’m sorry that you’ve developed diabetes, but you are stronger than you think and more capable of making necessary changes than you realize. Oh… and you are not alone.
With much love and support,
A fellow T2.
Has diabetes changed your exercise routine?