Diabetes: From diagnosis to successful self-care

Have a new diagnosis of diabetes? Or perhaps you recognize that your diabetes could be managed better? Self-care for diabetes can be overwhelming. It requires new knowledge, ongoing attention and a new mindset to keep moving forward.

So do you move from feeling stuck to finding success? How do you wrap your mind around this diagnosis?

Learn everything you can.

Your doctor and care team will guide your care and can point you to classes and support groups. A great resource to utilize first is the American Diabetes Association website.

Ask your care team to help you understand diabetes. Ask lots of questions! Here’s a brief introduction:

Insulin, a hormone in our bodies, keeps our blood glucose (sugars in the blood) at a healthy level. Diabetes is a condition where there is a lack of insulin or the insulin isn’t working well, and so, too much glucose collects in the blood. In Type 1 diabetes, the body cannot create insulin. Type 1 diabetes typically occurs earlier in life and is best managed by an endocrinologist. In Type 2 diabetes, the body develops a relative lack of or resistance to insulin. This usually occurs later in life and can be due to many things, including genetics and lifestyle factors.

Commit to success.

Diabetes is controlled with medications, by monitoring your blood sugars and by making lifestyle changes in diet, exercise and weight management.

It’s easier to be motivated when you understand the value of making lifestyle changes. These all play a role in keeping you healthy and your diabetes under control:

  • Losing weight (decreasing excess body mass and fat cells) allows your body to regulate blood sugar more efficiently.
  • Eating healthier and reducing your intake of carbohydrates and refined sugars decreases the amount of blood sugar the body must regulate.
  • Increasing cardiovascular exercise burns calories and increases the body’s metabolism, empowering it to use up any excess sugar that might turn into fat tissue.

It’s not easy, but these lifestyle changes become more manageable and natural once you realize they will not only result in better blood sugar control, but also help prevent many other health conditions, leading to a healthier and happier you.

Partner with your primary care provider.

  1. Keep a log of what you eat and your activities. A daily log helps your doctor and diabetes educators to cater their advice to your particular situation. For example, if you tell your doctor that you eat pasta five times per week, he or she can make specific recommendations as to how much pasta or the type of pasta you should be eating.
  2. Ask about other care you might need. Your providers might suggest vaccines, annual eye and dental exams, foot care—all important for preventing and monitoring complications from diabetes.
  3. Know the danger signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Signs may include shaking, lightheadedness, nausea and sweating. Work with your doctor to create a plan for what you will do in this situation. Finally, make sure you understand the plan—don’t hesitate to say it’s not clear and ask questions!

PacMed encourages our patients to take an active role in their care by doing some research, being disciplined with their medications and lifestyle, and asking questions when needed.

You may learn more about PacMed diabetes care, nutrition classes and other resources at www.PacMed.org/Diabetes. To find a primary care provider to guide this care, visit Lynnwood providers at www.PacMed.org/Lynnwood