Healthy Living

Being Diagnosed with Diabetes

Being Diagnosed with Diabetes

Key Takeaways

  • You may understandably find it difficult to take in everything the doctor says after confirming that you really are diabetic. 
  • It is difficult to cope with a life-changing diagnosis, and it is also difficult to deal with the diagnosis of a child.
  • Life changes will include the daily monitoring of blood glucose levels, creating meal plans, visiting doctors and exercising.

The disease begins with a feeling of increased thirst, urination or unexplained weight changes. These symptoms should warrant a visit to the doctor so as to get your blood sugar tested. If the blood sugar level is more than 200 mg/dL, consider performing a sugar test. If you are unsure of the outcomes, perform further tests. Don't over-interpret results, but rather observe the trends. Identifying patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes allows for early intervention and potentially reduces future complication rates.

The feeling after a diabetes diagnosis

You may understandably find it difficult to take in everything the doctor says after confirming that you really are diabetic. It is tough as you begin to find your new normal. It hits you like a ton of bricks, and some patients may have a more difficult time coping with their diagnosis than others. It gets especially complicated with the diagnosis of children. Every parent has something they are particularly afraid of, something they strive to protect their children from, but diseases like Type 1 Diabetes for example cannot be prevented. There are things you can control like slathering your kids with sunscreen to protect them from sunburn, but not this. 

Susan’s 7-year old boy would pee more than twice in less than 30 minutes. Besides that, he also lost weight. She felt a chill of unease, but refused to believe that something was not right. When his urine was tested, they found sugar in it. The level of glucose almost hit 500! This was five times more than regular. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with what you eat or how much you weigh, it happens suddenly and you can’t really put your hand on the cause. Susan received tons of information that was not easy to synthesize. The torrent of information overwhelms. It is like having a baby for the first time and you want to stretch and expand your brain to understand how to take care of the baby.

You work very hard to learn this new information, but your mind tries to lock it. It is a leap of faith to leave your child with someone else when they are diabetic. You need to trust the gym teacher and school nurse to give the child a correct insulin dose.

Coping with diabetes after diagnosis

It’s a familiar story and it usually goes like this …. “I simply can’t cope”, Jerry said after being diagnosed with diabetes last year. Jerry, who is an accomplished accountant, was overwhelmed by all that he had to do, both at his place of work and home. Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes, but a patient can find a way to make the conditions manageable. And, coping with diabetes is a full-time job because it leads to metabolic and psychosocial outcomes.

Checklist for coping with diabetes

Experts are not sure what causes diabetes. They say it may be genetics or likely triggered by environmental factors such as viruses.

Medication: Strictly speaking, in type 1 diabetes the pancreas no longer produces insulin. This demands that patients receive daily insulin through insulin pumps, injectables or insulin pens. It is up to you to administer the insulin appropriately and monitor the glucose levels. You need to work with your family and healthcare team to achieve your goal.

Nutrition: Have you wondered why your blood sugar level spikes when you eat certain foods? Foods rich in carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar and insulin brings it down. Wouldn’t it be great if you choose the right balance of nutrition? There’s only one way to solve the diabetes nutrition puzzle by understanding how different foods affect your glucose levels and by developing a solid meal plan for your daily routine. Meal plans are key in managing diabetes.

Blood glucose control: Did you know that some celebrities and professional athletes have successfully lived with the challenges of type I diabetes by constantly monitoring their blood sugar levels? Your ultimate goal is to re-create normal or nearly normal blood sugar levels without making the sugar levels go too low or too high. Remember a good blood sugar control demands you know a few numbers to measure how much glucose is present in your blood.

Exercise: Exercise is the fundamental component of proper diabetes care. Does this sound familiar? Your blood glucose runs high, particularly after high-intensity exercise. Check your blood or urine for ketones. If it turns out positive, avoid vigorous exercises. A word of caution though - if you have diabetes complications such heart disease, kidney problems, neuropathy problems, etc plan with your diabetes team before engaging in any physical activity. You can start small and build up. Go for exercises like brisk walking. Engage in activities within your comfort zone and the ones you like.

Support: Emotional support from friends and family members can do a great deal in coping with your condition. They provide you encouragement to stay on track and live well with diabetes.

Insulin management: Try to understand how insulin therapy works in your body, for instance, the type of insulin you are using and your regimen. In addition to that, know when the insulin is active in your body and what it is supposed to do.

Connect with others: Getting initial and continued support is crucial for a diabetic patient. Just talking to someone eases your anxiety of having diabetes. Family, friends and healthcare experts recharge and motivate you to carry on. You can get support online or in person. Join diabetes classes.

Include activities in your routine: Stay active. You don't have to hit the gym. Pulling, walking, stretching and lifting is good enough. Take a break at your place of work. Take a walk with your favorite pet for example. Biking or walking around the neighborhood is perfect. Climb escalators or stairs instead of using lifts. Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes without taking a break. Physical activities are a perfect partner with your nutrition plan. As much as the food provides the energy, you need the activity to burn it. Choose an aerobic activity such as walking in addition to resistance training such as lifting, pushing or pulling. Why? This helps your body to better use the insulin. Besides, it increases well-being, flexibility, and endurance.

Eating plan: Initially, you don’t have to make dramatic changes in your life. Simply keep track of what you are doing. Also, keep a record of what you eat, when and how much. Include the activities to do. Test your sugar to see how the activities and diet are impacting on your blood glucose.

Consider medication for lowering blood sugar: Type 2 diabetes is progressive. The ability of the body to make use of insulin declines over time due to changes in your body. Some people need glucose lowering medication as soon as they are diagnosed with diabetes, while others may take no medicine or at least none for a while.

Inspect your health plan: Diabetes is not cheap. Find a health plan to help your diabetes medications, glucometer, test strips and other supplies. The elements of payment plans should be looked at and examples include deductibles, monthly premiums and co-payments. Furthermore, check the services they cover and where.

Take a deep breath and approach these changes, one thing at a time. Your healthcare provider is likely to encourage you to make lifestyle changes like choosing healthy foods and being physically active. In addition to that, you should regularly check your blood sugar to monitor your glucose levels. Get tested every year and perform certain things like brushing your teeth more often beside flossing. You need regular check-ups with your doctors.

Final thoughts

What Jerry intuitively knows is that each person’s diabetes is completely different. What works for him may not work for you. Like many other millions, feeling down about your diagnosis is normal. It is not your fault that you have diabetes. The pancreas like any other body organ may become inefficient.