Newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes
When first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, some people may find it difficult to believe. They think it must be a terrible mistake, believing that perhaps another test is needed or thinking maybe it will just go away. This is a very natural response to receiving the diagnosis. But it is very likely that your diagnosis is real and diabetes is here to stay. You’re now part of the very large and growing club of people with diabetes and there is heaps of support around you don't worry!
The Good News Is, This Isn’t Your Grandmother’s Diabetes
With 21st century technology and care, we now know you can live a long and healthy life with diabetes. Thanks to modern medicine, people developing diabetes today have an excellent chance of living long, healthy lives, free from serious complications.
Here are a few things you can do right now to set yourself up for success:
Just like you take your car in for regular tune-ups, we recommend you include the following as part of your “regular health maintenance” program:
- Have an A1C test (at least twice a year) to measure your average blood sugar levels over the previous 2-3 months
- Get a yearly dilated eye exam from an eye specialist who is knowledgeable about diabetic eye disease
- Get a yearly kidney function test
- Keep a close eye on your feet, especially if you have neuropathy or a lack of sensation, and have your provider inspect them at least once a year (more if you have neuropathy).
- Have your blood pressure checked every time you see your provider, and your cholesterol checked annually (more frequently if your levels are high).
- See your dentist twice per year for regular cleanings and prevent tooth and gum disease by brushing and flossing every day, not just one week before you go to the dentist!
Learn all you can about diabetes…knowledge is power.
Diabetes Is Not Your Fault
Don’t blame yourself for developing type 2 diabetes, and don’t let anyone else blame you either. It is not caused by laziness or a lack of will power. Eating sweets didn’t do it. Type 2 diabetes is a genetic disease. And when you have these genes, certain factors – like being overweight – can trigger it. More and more people are becoming heavier and developing type 2 diabetes because most jobs now require little physical activity, life is more stressful, and too many foods tempt us that are high in calories, large in size and much too convenient. Your genes and the environment are the major culprits, but that doesn’t mean you are now helpless to protect your health.
Knowing Your Numbers Should be Your First Step
To manage diabetes, there are so many things you will be advised to do and change. No wonder it can feel so overwhelming. You can’t do everything at once, so where should you start? Begin by making sure the critical diabetes tests are being done and that you, not just your doctor, know the results.
After all, you can’t know what to do differently if you don’t first know how you’re doing. At the very least, find out about your blood pressure, cholesterol and A1c numbers. You need to know what your numbers mean and what you and your doctor can do to get, or keep, those numbers in a safe range.
Take Your Prescribed Medications
From the first day of a diagnosis, most people require medications to keep diabetes in check and maintain good health. Many people worry that taking medications might be bad for their health as well as too costly. Yes, there are diabetes medications that have negative side effects, but these are typically outweighed by the positive benefits to your long-term health. To stay healthy, your goal shouldn’t be to take fewer medications, but to make sure your numbers (A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol) are in a safe range. Talk about the pros and cons of medications with your doctor, and ask about other options, especially if they are too bothersome or expensive. Then you can make an informed decision.
Protecting Your Heart Should Be Your First Concern
Heart disease is the major health concern for people with type 2 diabetes. Attention to lowering the risk for heart problems is the main reason why people with diabetes are living longer than ever. According to scientific studies, the most important areas to address, in order of importance, are smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, A1c, and fitness. Talk to your doctor about your risk and what you can do.
Focus on Developing a Healthier Lifestyle, Not Weight Loss
Increasing your fitness and choosing healthier foods (for example, more fruits and vegetables, smaller portions, and less saturated fats) will have a bigger impact on your diabetes and heart health than losing weight alone. This is good news, since weight loss can be frustrating and difficult. Of course, exercising more and making smarter food choices may lead to a lower weight over time. But keep the focus on improving your health, not just improving your weight.
With all of the information, medications and resources we have today, people with diabetes have an excellent chance of avoiding serious complications and can live a long, healthy, and happy life!