So What Do I Do Now?
Ten Simple Steps to Managing Diabetes.
Congratulations! You are ready to manage your diabetes. You should be proud of yourself. The idea of managing diabetes for the rest of your life is huge and scary. That you are willing to commit to it is a big deal. Now that you are committed to your care, what do you do first?
Let’s take a look at the ten simple steps needed to successfully manage your diabetes.
- Assemble a care team.
- Assemble a support network.
- Learn the diabetes basics.
- Make lifestyle changes (think diet and exercise).
- Start a log book.
- Do something for yourself.
- Learn some more.
- Intentionally empower yourself.
- Go on with your life.
- Forgive Yourself.
Let’s break these steps down a little, shall we?
1. Assembling Your Care Team
Assembling your care team is actually pretty simple. If you already have a primary physician, you have already started to put your team together. In addition to your primary care provider, find yourself an Endocrinologist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), a Nutritionist, a Counselor, and a reliable pharmacy. Later on, if you decide to work devices into your care plan, such as pumps or continuous monitors, get to know reps for the company you are getting your device from.
Okay, so why do you need these people anyway? Your Endocrinologist is going to be one of your best resources for how diabetes works, how your body responds to it, and what to do about it. They can help match you and your body up with the right medications and care plan. You may be asking yourself, can’t my primary physician do that? Well, yes and no. Your primary physician will be able to prescribe medication and will have a good knowledge base regarding diabetes, but your Endocrinologist is specifically trained and works with endocrine disorders, of which diabetes is one. They will have superior knowledge of all of the current information, medication, resources, and devices pertaining to diabetes.
A Certified Diabetes Educator, or CDE, can be a life saver (literally). Their purpose is to offer you support and education. They can be the person you start with when you aren’t sure who to go to for help. CDEs have undergone extensive training and testing to become certified as educators. To find a CDE, start with your primary physician. You can also call around to local endocrinology offices, ask members of a diabetes support group, look online, or check with your insurance provider to see if they can recommend someone. Pricing will vary so be sure to check out a few options and be willing to ask about and discuss the cost of this service.
A Nutritionist is going to help you learn how to eat. Eat for diabetes, that is. The bottom line is that in order to really manage your diabetes successfully, and avoid as many high and low blood sugar readings as possible, you’ll need to cut out the junk and learn how to get the most bang for your buck from food. You’ll need to learn how to count carbs, how many carbs to eat, and how carbs, fat, proteins, and starches influence your blood sugar. Some of this will be learned through trial and error but a Nutritionist will be able to help you learn the basics and put together a plan to start off your new diet.
The Counselor. Like I mentioned earlier, they say that the first year of diabetes is the hardest and I agree. A lot of people find themselves depressed, frustrated, angry, and in denial. After all, it’s not fair that you have diabetes. But you do, and a counselor can help you to move through the times that are so difficult they make you want to give up. Then you can continue to learn how to help yourself. When these bad times come around, remember this: you really can do this, and you can have a great life in spite of diabetes. Just don’t give up. As my best friend says, nothing lasts forever, good or bad. Hold on tight and keep on going.
The pharmacy may be a no-brainer but still, make sure you have this set up. You’re probably going to try out a number of medications until you and your Endocrinologist find what works best for you. Be prepared for pharmacy runs.
These are all resources that will be a tremendous help to starting on your diabetes care plan and learning how to adjust your plan as you go. Don’t be afraid to change to a different practitioner or Counselor if you feel the first or second or sixth one you try isn’t the right one for you. This is your life, after all, and you deserve to be working with a team that you are comfortable with. Now, that being said, don’t let stubbornness get in the way of a good team (don’t switch to a different Nutritionist because you don’t want to give up cake and the one sitting in front of you is telling you that cake is a sure-fire way to spike your blood sugar so high it won’t land until next Tuesday). Once your care team is assembled, you are ready to put together your support network.