On the 2nd April 1993 I was diagnosed with diabetes. This year marks 18 years of living well with D. Coincidently, the 2nd April is my daughter’s birthday, so for the last seven years I don’t actually remember that I’ve clocked up another year until afterwards.
But I do remember most of those first days. I spent 10 days in hospital. I remember the confusion and the wonder and my complete and utter ignorance about what was happening to me and my inability to comprehend it all.
I was being told that I could live a normal healthy life so I figured I wouldn’t worry about it all.
But then I returned to the world to live my “normal healthy life” and it wasn’t as easy as it was before. I had hypos all over the place, and if it wasn’t low blood sugar it was high blood sugars. Back then I was on twice daily injections and having to eat meals and snacks at specific times during the day. It was hard and I was only just able to keep my head above water.
I didn’t think anyone out there could help me so I didn’t talk to anyone about my diabetes. People would ask “how is your diabetes?” and I would say “fine” and change the subject. I cried myself to sleep almost every night for a couple of months because I couldn’t figure out what I had done to cause this diabetes.
But I got over it and I turned it all around. I learned about my diabetes and I realised that I needed to take care of it and it would take care of me.
When I think of the many people who are being catapulted into the Diabetes Community these days I feel those early days again and I do everything I can to let them know that they are not alone.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a 12 step plan that tells newly diagnosed people with diabetes what they need to do next after diagnosis. However, I did come across something in a borrowed copy of Outsmart Diabetes, Rodale Publications. The section was titled “Taking on Diabetes”.
And here is the outline:
Get Confirmation of whether you have it or not.
Go to the doctor or healthcare professional and ask to be tested for diabetes. If the test is positive, make sure you have your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol checked also and a foot and eye examination.
Take time to fully digest what you have been told.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, take the time to fully absorb what you are being told. Don’t make assumptions or hasty decisions. The only way you will take control of your situation is with a clear head.
Find out the facts for yourself.
Look to the internet, your local library or contact one of the many organizations for more information. In this case it’s true that knowledge really is power.
Work out how those facts apply to you.
Once you’ve gained a good all round understanding of diabetes, focus on the particular type that you have, and with this knowledge work out how you can make your life easier.
Prepare yourself for your next conversation with your doctor.
Arrived armed with information and you will know if you are being sold short or misdiagnosed. There is no reason why your doctor shouldn’t welcome your contributions. Also, if you know what you want to talk about you will probably get a much better service.
Accentuate the Positives.
If might not, at first, seem that there are too many. But if having diabetes means you can no longer carry on making excuses for not eating healthily or doing exercise, then that has to be a bonus.
Start making lifestyle changes
Go forward with whatever adjustments you have t make to your life with gusto and as if they were your idea. Think they are only being made to improve your quality of life.
Stress can only make your condition worse, as it can trigger surges in blood sugar. And besides, worrying never changed anything!
And that goes from me too. It's not a perfect step by step list but it's something.
And remeber it is what it is and all you can do is your best.