If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed, anxious and even angry. While this diagnosis does necessitate significant changes in the way you eat, drink and live, it is by no means the end of the world. Whether you take insulin or prescription drugs, take heart in knowing that you have a world of resources and support to help you along the way.
First, an unsettling fact about taking medications: As many as 75 percent of all patients do not follow doctors’ orders for treatment. This is risky with any condition, and even more so for you, the diabetic. Over time, failure to adhere to your treatment plan can cause irreparable damages to your eyes, heart and extremities — sometimes to the point where amputation becomes necessary. Missing even a few doses can cause dizziness, impaired speech and disorientation.
While diabetes can cause a number of health problems, it is possible to reduce your risk of developing a diabetes-related condition. Some diabetics continue to eat sweets and carbohydrate-heavy foods, reasoning that they can always adjust their dose of insulin. This is dangerous thinking, and downplays the severity of the condition and its consequences. Work with — never against — your treatment by committing to a healthy, balanced diet. You can also incorporate more physical fitness into your daily routine, whether by walking, swimming or taking a class at your local gym. This improves your body’s ability to function well in spite of diabetes.
Treatment for diabetes will most likely lead to changes in your daily routine, usually in the foods you eat, the frequency of injections and testing requirements. At first, you may feel uncomfortable discussing the specifics of your diagnosis. However, it is very important that those close to you understand the risks of diabetes, as well as the warning signs that something may be amiss — a sudden drop or spike in blood glucose, for example. Understand that your support system would do anything for you, especially if it affected your health and happiness. You may not wish to create a big to-do about the whole thing, but it is also reasonable to request certain minor accommodations. Painful though it may be, you might have to ask Aunt Betty to refrain from showing up with a plate of your favorite cookies and cakes. Warn your partner that tempting treats from the grocery store should not be allowed in the house.
For someone who has no knowledge of or experience with diabetes, it’s hard to fathom the idea of injecting oneself with a syringe. If you are testing more than once daily, you often find that you must take your insulin while you are out and about. How should you handle it? What is the best way to take care of business without drawing attention to yourself? For these answers, look to a support group or online community for diabetics. Having already walked in your shoes, your fellow diabetics are invaluable sources of information on everything from choosing blood glucose monitors to cooking diabetes-friendly meals.
Your diagnosis means that diabetes now plays a large role in your life, but by no means does it define you as a person. With the support of your doctor, family and friends, you can live long and live well. These tips are of general interest to anyone with diabetes, be it gestational, insulin-dependent or non-insulin-dependent. Before making any changes in your life, consult your physician to ensure which steps are appropriate for your specific needs.