I want to make reference to a post I just read that will help many people who have been recently diagnosed and add in my two cents from the point of view of living with diabetes. I echo that you are not alone. Even if you go to the doctor suspecting the diagnosis it can still be a shock, a big shock, hearing you have diabetes. There is help available. “I don’t know what I don’t know” is often the case so how do you know who or what to ask? How do you know how to access the equipment you will need to support your diabetes. Maybe these tips will help you.
Look around you, I bet you know someone who is diabetic. If you don’t, ask your family or friends if they know someone who is. Would they, could they, put you in touch with that person to chat? Yes, there are different types of diabetes but some things are common to all diabetics. I am a firm believer in peer support and the value it brings to living with a chronic health concern. No one understands what you live with more than someone walking the same path. Peers can give you support when you need it, hope when you lose it, and advice that perhaps no one else can. The Type2Diabetes.com community is one such amazing resource.
Meeting with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) is always a good plan but may not happen right away. Some health care systems are overburdened or insurance coverages may change with politics. It may take time, sometimes weeks, before you can access and meet with a certified diabetic educator to help you understand what diabetes is and how you can live healthfully with it. This can leave you feeling quite helpless until you can access the service. This was the experience of a friend of mine. I helped fill in some of the blanks for her until she could get the professional support she needed. Many doctors’ offices do not have certified diabetes educators available. No need to despair though. It may be easy to make an assumption that you can only get the teaching you need from a certified diabetic educator; don’t underestimate the knowledge in the doctor’s office. The doctor or nurse may not know all the ins and outs of diabetes that the certified diabetic educator does but they can give you enough solid evidence based information to get you started until you can meet your CDE team.
Blood glucose monitor
Get a glucose monitor then get to know how to use it. Accessing a blood glucose (blood sugar) monitor is very important. People who do not have coverage for this may be able to get one through an assistance program. Check with your pharmacist, local health unit, or doctor’s office to get more information. We can all be pretty quick to make judgements about big pharma but sometimes they have compassion programs that will help us. They may be interested in helping you get a monitor. Don’t underestimate their ability to help. There also may be a local support group for diabetes that may be able to give you suggestions on who you need to speak to to secure one in your area. The next step is learning how to use your monitor. Companies have spent time trying to make these monitors user friendly. Believe me when I say, they are easy to use. The monitor can show you how your body responds to food and exercise.
Get to know your medications. Check with your pharmacist to see if they offer booked appointments. They may be able to sit down with you in private to review your medications. If they do, take advantage of this! Some medications work better at certain times of the day. I have been caught a few times not getting the most out of a medication because I’m taking it at the wrong time of day. Be consistent with taking your medications! Your ‘meds’ can’t do much for you if you don’t take them. Many people worry about side effects and realistically they do exist for some of us. Rather than discontinuing the medication, call your health care provider or pharmacist to discuss. Maybe the side effects are short term while your body gets used to the medication. Or it may be possible to take a smaller dose over a longer period of time gradually working up to the dose that is right for you. This is referred to as titrating up. This can work really well for some drugs like metformin. If the side effects are not tolerable for you then perhaps there is another med that will do the same job without the side effects.
Nutrition services. Obviously, the best care regarding nutrition for diabetics comes from a CDE-Registered Dietitian (RD) helping to develop your plan but again, immediate access may not be available where you live. Explore the internet to see if there is any online support that is either low cost or free. You might be surprised at what is out there. You could ask your specialist if they have a registered dietitian they can recommend, maybe they have one right in the office. Understanding how to read nutrition labels can be confusing and it takes practice to know what you are reading. After 12 years of being diabetic, I still have questions on occasion.
And finally, if you can, walk. Walking is a very underrated exercise. I was diagnosed in the month of November. November in Canada often means the snow has started. When I first began my diabetes journey, I really hadn’t been exercising…ever. The doctor suggested I walk. I have to tell you, I found it difficult to walk around the block, even once. That was still more than what I had been doing before so for me, that was a huge success! Every step you can take is a step towards health. Walking can lead to weight loss. Bonus! Take it slow, but take it. I know you can master this!
Services for diabetes are not always publicized the best but if you look around and ask, you can find what you need.