Step One: Let Yourself Feel
Whether you’re new to diabetes, or you’ve had diabetes for a while but are paying more attention to managing it, one of the first things to think about is how you’re feeling. That might sound crazy, but pay attention to your emotions; not doing so can prevent you from focusing on caring for yourself. You might be feeling angry, scared, sad, numb, disappointed, depressed – or a combination of all of these. You should know that:
- These are perfectly normal feelings to have (and most people with diabetes have them at one time or another).
- They usually go away once you start engaging in and following your diabetes treatment plan.
Step Two: Learn!
You may have heard that diabetes is a condition of “self-management.” In other words, most of your diabetes care is up to you! So, in order to do the best job possible, you’ll need to learn about your condition – everything from checking your blood sugars to counting carbs to sick day rules. You can learn a lot from books and websites, but ideally you should participate in diabetes classes or programs in your community. Or, ask your doctor to refer you to a diabetes educator and a dietitian. Insurance usually covers several visits, and it will be worth your time to be able to ask questions and get personalized advice.
Step Three: Know Your Numbers
One of the best ways to know how your diabetes is doing is by knowing your “diabetes numbers.” These numbers include your A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol and kidney function tests, like microalbumin and GFR. Not sure what these are? All the more reason to talk with your doctor or diabetes educator and find out what these numbers mean, what your own results are, and what your targets are. Think of these numbers as your diabetes dashboard. If they’re not where they’re supposed to be, talk with your doctor about what needs to be changed in your diabetes treatment plan to get them to your target.
Step Four: Lower Your Risk
Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for certain complications, such as heart disease, nerve damage and eye and kidney problems. Don’t let these complications scare you, though. You can greatly reduce your risk of having problems by keeping your diabetes numbers as close to target as possible, following a healthy eating and exercise plan, getting all the tests and exams that you need (like your annual eye exam) and taking your diabetes medication as prescribed. It’s not always easy, but the good news is that you don’t have to be perfect. And don’t forget to keep your appointments with your healthcare team!
Step Five: Get Support
You know better than anyone else how hard it can be to have diabetes. Some people feel like managing diabetes is a full-time job, in addition to going to work and taking care of their family. Without support and encouragement, many people struggle to take care of a condition that’s with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For this reason, it really helps to find sources of support. These can come in the form of sessions with a counselor, a support group at your local hospital, regular get-togethers with friends who have diabetes, or online communities. Know that help is out that and that you’re not alone.
Here’s to a new and healthy year with diabetes!
We invite you to visit our Homepage for additional information on products and studies on diabetes.