Letter To A Diabetic

Or I Understand What You're Going Through

Tag: Health

So What Do I Do Now?

Part 2/14

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.

  1. Assemble a care team.
  2. Assemble a support network.
  3. Learn the diabetes basics.
  4. Make lifestyle changes (think diet and exercise).
  5. Start a log book.
  6. Do something for yourself.
  7. Learn some more.
  8. Intentionally empower yourself.
  9. Go on with your life.
  10. 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.

CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor)

After having too many low readings (30s – 50s) with no symptoms until feeling like I was going to pass out, I caved and got the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor. I wish I would have gotten this thing earlier. It’s an awesome device. It spits out a bgl reading every five minutes. It’s user friendly, easy to insert, very small, and gives information on trending. Alarms can be set for highs and lows and I have been told there is an android app that allows users to get info off the monitor from great distances (think kids at school and such) though I haven’t verified this. It is tubeless, and comes in pink, blue, and black. Seriously folks, any T1 who has trouble keeping their bg where they want it should have one of these. Check out the Dexcom page about the CGM.

I have been in bed sick this week and normally in this situation keeping my bg in range is a futile endeavor but I have mostly been able to keep it in the 100s because I have known exactly what it is and where it is going. The information you get on trending with this monitor is invaluable. So take a look, and if you already have a CGM, share your thoughts on which devices and features you prefer.

 

Show Me Your Pump!

After indulging in a little social media griping about people’s reactions to my insulin pump in public, someone shared this wonderful article with me. Enjoy!

Hey, Miss Idaho, Is That An Insulin Pump On Your Bikini?

Miss Idaho Sierra Sandison, shown here in her home town of Twin Falls, Idaho, decided not to hide the insulin pump she wears to treat Type 1 diabetes during the pageant.

Endo-Anxiety (or A Rare Condition Involving Irrational Fear of Not Having Control of Your Diabetes).

Another endo visit awaits me on Thursday, during which I will no doubt be weighed and measured, quite literally. Sometimes the trips drive me crazy, sometimes they’re welcome, but they are always useful. And that’s the part we need to remember. You can learn a lot about controlling your diabetes during your endo visit. Remember, though, that you are your only real health advocate and it is up to you to go fishing for information. So next time that (perhaps dreaded) visit roles around, do yourself a favor or two.

~Get a copy of your most recent lab results. After all, that’s why you’re there, to go over results and check in. So get a hard copy and start a file so that you can keep your own records and follow along.

~Let your endo, (and medical assistants) know what you need help with. You’re literally standing in a great resource for information and help. Ask for it.

~Don’t blame yourself if your results aren’t where you want them to be. If you’re alive, and have a good to terrific quality of life, diabetes isn’t winning. Take comfort in that and keep on truckin’.

~But mostly, remember that at the end of the day, you’re head will be on your pillow. Nothing lasts forever, and most of what we worry about is in our imaginations. We worry about things that might happen or will happen or won’t ever happen at all. You’re here, on the right side of the earth for living, and we can’t forget that while we carry a disease around inside our bodies, days come and go, life moves along, and we are just as entitled to living it as anyone else is.

Love and light,

Melissa

Happy Valentine’s Day (Yes, Diabetics Can Celebrate Too)!

i love youJust because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean we have to submit ourselves to feast or famine. We can still ride the blood glucose middle line and avoid both the crazy highs from indulging in too many of those sweets, and the frustration of feeling like we can’t eat anything at all. There’s a word for this. It’s called: moderation. And planning. Yeah, they’re both the word for it. Plan ahead, use moderation, and remember that, like always, those little chalky, heart shaped glucose chunks are NOT worth a 297 reading on the ol’ glucometer. And neither are all those delicious cupcakes and cookies. Sorry guys, but our feet and eyes are far more important. 😉 Besides, Valentine’s Day is all about love and that, my friends, is always carb free.

Take a look at this WebMD article for a little more on the topic.

Rocky, the Diabetic Pup

Thank you to those who visited and clicked in the American Dog contest a few weeks back. I thought some of you may be interested in seeing who Rocky is. He’s my diabetic-turned-hypoglycemic pup. And he’s the one of the best things I have ever had in my life. Of all the teachers I have had, I never expected that it would be a diabetic chihuahua mix that would help me come to terms with my own diabetes.

Jerry, the Diabetic Bear

I developed Type I Diabetes as an adult, at the age of 31. I didn’t have to live with the stigma of diabetes as a child. I didn’t have to be the only kid who had diabetes. I didn’t have to be the kid that wasn’t normal. As an adult, I can accept the technicalities of diabetes. I can understand the importance of managing it now to avoid complications later. I can’ t imagine how it must feel to be a kid with diabetes.

But Sproutel sure seems to be able to. They have designed, Jerry, the bear with diabetes to help children manage their diabetes. Check it out the video below.

Ain’t No Shame In Diabetes

I came across a great article on the blog, six until me. Shout it from the mountain tops, I say. The more people know about diabetes, the more of us who are willing to present it for what it really is and the effect it has on our minds and bodies (and every other damn thing that has anything to do with life), the more likely we are to be able to leave the stigma behind.

Someone told me the other day that I don’t look like a diabetic. I hear this all the time and I always wonder, well, what the hell does a diabetic look like? For me, I suppose it would be a picture of a pancreas that does absolutely nothing. 

 

What Type I Diabetes looks like –>

Bet you can’t even tell I am having a bad hair day.

 

It saddens me how little our society knows about such a prevalent disease. And that won’t change unless diabetics educate themselves first, and everyone else after!

Your Rights As A Diabetic In The Workplace

As a Massage Therapist, it is very difficult for me to work full time and manage my diabetes. When I am essentially “stuck” in a room for one to two hours at a time with a client, it can be a bit of a pain to stop everything to check my bgl, makes adjustments, eat if needed, etc, while maintaining a somatic session. I’ve had to stop many a session to correct a high or low and then return to the client minutes later. Fortunately, most people are very understanding and have no problem with me stopping to make sure everything is alright.

Still though, it is good to understand our rights and our employer’s rights and obligations. Here’s a great site to get that info.

I have had to leave a couple of jobs because the physical demands were too much for this diabetic body to manage. Remember that it is more important to maintain health than income (I know, I know, it can be hard to believe – but it’s really true, I promise).

Managing Diabetes…

I was just thinking about how one of my favorite comedians, Patrice O’Neal, passed away the end of last year after having a stroke. He also had Type 2 Diabetes – diagnosed in 1993, I believe. I am not 100% sure, but I think that his stroke was a result of diabetes getting the better of his system. I remember watching him do a stand-up routine once where he was talking about how he hadn’t taken his diabetes seriously when he was younger and how he was trying to now and how difficult it is because so much of his life revolved around what to eat. We all know how that goes, right? Effin carbs. You can read an interview between him and Diabetes Forecast here. It’s a great publication, by the way. If you don’t subscribe, I recommend it.

It was a catalyst for a thought that I have had many times but that I nonetheless want to share again. TAKE YOUR DIABETES SERIOUSLY! There is no cure now, and there likely won’t be one for a long time. And even if a cure is found in ten years, and you are alive and eligible for the cure, poor diabetes management for that long will result in irreversible damage. I want all my limbs, my vision, and an overall healthy body, thank you very much! I won’t assume that a cure will be found or that my doctor will know what’s best for me. When it comes to my management, I own that shit. I dread the day I am too old to care for myself because I know it will be the beginning of the end but if I manage to get to a day when I am too old to take care of myself, well then, I’ve done a damn good job of managing my diabetes so I guess I’ll take what I can.

Here’s my point: take care of your body. Diabetes doesn’t care about how you feel. It is an emotionless, chronic pathology that will take you out if it gets a chance to. Make your health a priority. When I am an old diabetic, I want to know other old diabetics so we can sit around and talk about how we kicked the ‘betes ass!

JENN McCOLLUM

Victorianist. Scholar. Professor.

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