Having diabetes is like being in charge of an octopus. There isn't just one cut and dried way of coping with the disease because of all of its different parts. At first, it might seem like an overwhelming amount of information is thrown at you. There are medications, food plans, and schedules. You have to learn how to operate medical equipment such as a glucometer, or maybe an insulin pump. You may need to learn how to give yourself insulin injections.
It Doesn't Change Who You Are:
First of all, take a deep breath. Realize you are still you, and that over time, diabetes will become only one facet of your life, and everything will eventually fit into your lifestyle. It is possible to get a handle on diabetes and live a long and healthy life.
Taming The Octopus:
You don't have to do it alone. Assembling your own personal healthcare team puts you in control. Who you have on your team is up to you. Some possibilities:
- Your primary MD can help coordinate your healthcare.
- Diabetes is a disease of the endocrine system. An endocrinologist can help you see the big picture.
- A nutritionist/dietician can help figure out a good meal plan.
- An eye doctor. Retinopathy can be a serious complication.
- A certified diabetes educator(CDE) can teach you the skills you'll need.
Know Your Blood Glucose Levels:
Check your blood sugar several times a day. First thing in the morning, before meals, after meals and before bed. Also anytime when you feel like your blood sugar may not be "right".
- Keep records of all your blood glucose numbers and what time you checked them.
- Keep a food diary of what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat.
Records are good to keep because they tell you and your doctor a lot about how you're doing, and whether the medications or insulin schedule are at the best dose for you.
Take Your Medicine:
It's important to take your medications as prescribed, even if you're feeling better. They keep your blood sugar levels in a good range, so you can reduce the risk of long-term complications like nerve damage, blindness or kidney failure.
If you are Type 1, you will need to take your insulin as prescribed, not only to help delay long-term complications but also to prevent the more immediate danger of extremely high blood glucose that can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life threatening emergency.
Plan Your Meals:
- What to eat: a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The ADA has an exchange list that might be helpful for determining what proportions of carbs, proteins and fats you need.
- When to eat: Try to eat at the same times everyday. This helps blood sugar levels remain constant.
- How much to eat: Use portion control to get a balance of the nutrients that you need.
- Consult a dietician or nutritionist to help guide you towards good nutrition and come up with find a plan that fits your needs.
Get Your Exercise:
Find an exercise that you like to do that fits into your life.
- Exercise helps with weight loss.
- Exercise can increase the effectiveness of insulin receptors in Type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise can lower immediate blood sugar in both Type 1 and Type 2
- Exercise can improve your mood.