March 14, 2016

After Diagnosis, What Is Next?

After diagnosis, the questions do start. Many let the doctor set their goals and then when they cannot meet the goals, they often give up and forget to do anything to manage their diabetes. A few others ignore the goals that the doctors set for them and start reading on the Internet. Some will not find the right information and also give up.

Others keep searching and eventually discover what works for them and even if their doctor does not set them up with a blood glucose meter and test strips, they find a way to obtain them and learn how to test. They learn how to eat to their meter and find out what foods they can eat and which foods they must eliminate from the menu. The best thing they do is look for trends and test to know if the “way of eating” is working for them.

Some of the things I learned early after diagnosis was reading the website of David Mendosa and then later his blogs on Health Central. I also read the book by Gretchen Becker – The First Year, Type 2 Diabetes, which really opened my eyes to what the doctor had not told me or anyone else for that matter.

Here are some of the tips I learned:
  1. Do not be afraid to take some time to learn about diabetes. You did not get diabetes overnight and bringing under great management can take some time.
  2. Please take diabetes seriously. Unmanaged diabetes is deadly, but it doesn’t have to be. Properly managed diabetes can lead to a long and healthy life.
  3. Make lifestyle changes. Please read two of my blogs about the components of lifestyles here and here. Most people only concentrate on diet and exercise and forget about the other components. I prefer using “way of eating” instead of diet and diet is at best a temporary change and the change needs to be something we do permanently.
  4. Take your medications regularly, and as directed by your doctor. This is important; however, don't be afraid to ask about insulin and other medications. Also, if the doctor does not explain the side effect of the medication(s) prescribed, make sure to discuss this with the pharmacist.
  5. Test your blood sugar regularly. Even if you need to purchase some test strips on your own, this is very important, especially if you learn to eat to your meter. Always test before a meal and one or two hours after a meal. This will tell you how the food you ate is affecting your blood glucose levels.
  6. Meet with your doctors regularly. No, I did not say medical team and this will vary by individual and the competence of your doctors. Managing your health now means you must care for all of your health needs.
  7. Get check-ups and other testing regularly. Blood pressure, lipid profile, dilated eye exams, kidney function exams, A1C testing, all of these will be important in making sure your body is in working order.
  8. Find a Support System. This will vary by individual. Some will have a supportive spouse or even another family member. Others will rely on a good friend and some will need to be part of a support group.

Know that unmanaged diabetes is deadly and that good management of diabetes can be a blessing. Those that manage their diabetes often will die of old age before the diabetes complications can kill them. Most doctors consider diabetes as progressive, but people are proving them wrong. Keep a positive attitude.

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