If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes and are scared to death…..don’t panic….. there is an abundance of professional help available and some very reliable guides to vibrant lifestyles that manage diabetes and enhance your pleasure as well. This is not a sentence to miserable ill health and nasty tasting bland food. What you need to understand is that knowledge about your condition gives you control over it. Here are the steps to take if you have been newly diagnosed.
First you need to ask your doctor for all the facts about your specific type of diabetes and if you have other conditions that need attention at the same time. Other conditions that affect the outcome of diabetes or are affected by diabetes are:
1. Hypertension (high blood pressure)
2. Cardiac disease
4. Renal disease and/or failure
5. Peripheral vascular disease
Chances are that if you have diabetes you have other health issues also. My advice is still…. don’t panic. Work with your doctor over the course of the next several months. He (or she) should be:
1. Instructing you to make regular appointments, especially in the beginning when you will need a lot of help and information
2. He should refer you to an eye doctor for an exam that will check for the kind of eye damage that high blood sugars can cause. The eye problem is called retinopathy and can cause blindness. Keeping blood sugars at normal levels with oral medications or with insulin can prevent retinopathy.
3. She should take a really close look at your feet every time you come in so she can assess the amount of circulatory and nerve involvement. If you have foot problems she should refer you to a podiatrist immediately. Poor circulation and nerve damage caused by blood sugars that are out of control can cause sores on your feet or even dead tissue or gangrene. Look at your own feet every night and call your doctor immediately if you have a sore or black spots on your feet.
4. He should instruct you to get a blood pressure monitoring device that you can operate yourself and have the nurse instruct you on its use and how to keep accurate records of your blood pressure. High blood pressure seems to be more difficult to control when combined with diabetes. It is also more dangerous because both conditions can lead to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and blindness. Get a handle on both conditions early.
5. She should get a blood test to determine your kidney function, your cholesterol level an of course your blood sugar. Kidney function is checked by a blood test which measure creatinine and by a urine test which checks for any protein in the urine.
Make sure you tell your Doctor if you have numbness, tingling, vision problems, foamy urine or sores that are slow to heal, especially on your feet. Make sure your questions get answered before you leave your doctor’s office on each visit.
The big frustration with diabetes is that no one person will have all the answers; but your doctor will be the key person to seek advice from, and he or she will refer you to other people (like the dietician, the podiatrist, the optometrist and the nephrologist) as the need arises. Ask your doctor about a diabetic class where you can learn important facts and get help and support in working out an exercise routine and new dietary habits.
It is important to get the type of diabetes clarified by your medical team. They will tell you if you have type-1 diabetes or type- 2 diabetes. There is another type that has been more recently identified that is currently being called type- 1.5 or “stealth” diabetes. They all deal with insulin but each causes its problem in a different fashion. For free updated information you can receive by e-mail go to www.prevention.com/newsletter.
Okay now its time to discuss a lifestyle guide. There is a lot more to learn about diabetes, more than I can cover in this short article and more is being discovered all the time. But the major thing to remember is that you are the one who will determine the outcome of your diabetes. Get to know your dietician really well. He or she is the one who will guide you in managing your sugar and carbohydrate intake. This is a lifestyle absolute. You must have complete knowledge and control over what you eat. Next learn about the secret weapon against diabetes. Walking. Yep, I said walking. You must make walking a part of every aspect of your life. A lifestyle of walking will take off weight, lower your blood sugar, flatten your tummy, and take off the inches around your waist. The two things together, diet and exercise sound like a yuppie fitness freak thing, but in truth they are the two key things that you control that will guarantee a happier and more harmonious outcome in dealing with this disease. Make sure your shoes fit well and do not produce sores on your feet. Call 1-888.FIT-FOOT (1-888-348-3668) to find a shoe store that has fitting experts who will help you find the right shoes…or go to www.footsolutions.com
So, back to the newly diagnosed, and what do I do now, stage of your life. Like I said, don’t panic, because panic prevents you from taking control and taking the steps you need to beat this disease. Here are the steps to take if you have been newly diagnosed…..
Step one: Ask your doctor for all the nitty gritty details and follow up on all his or her advice and referrals. Build a professional and personal support team that consists of your:
• primary care physician,
• Certified Diabetes educator,
• Support Group of other people with diabetes…..be cautious here….you want to be sure these people are upbeat, positive thinkers who believe firmly in taking control of your own life but are not “alternative health” experimenters. You cannot “cure” diabetes with herbs.
• Workout buddy, someone who is at your fitness level who is motivated to spend healthy quality time seeking the benefit of regular “walk abouts” or work outs.
Step two: Arm yourself with books that will help you affect your two major life style changes.
• Diabetic cookbooks – -a good one is 10001 Delicious Recipes for People with Diabetes, Prevention has a book called “Outsmart Diabetes”, that also has some wonderful recipes in it.
• “Walking Magazine”, a magazine dedicated to wise choices for health and fitness is based in Boston and offers advice for walking centered healthy lifestyles, health news, fitness programs, shoe reviews and includes low-fat recipes, and some nutrition tips. For Subscription price call 1-800-829-3340 or write to “Walking Magazine”, 9-11 Harcourt Street, Boston, Ma. 02116.
Step three is to:
1. Join a diabetic support group,
2. Google the American Diabetic Association and you will come to their home page which has many links to information about every facet of diabetic living.
3. Your local hospital probably has diabetic information classes. Ask your doctor or call the director of nursing at your hospital to ask where you can find classes and support groups.
4. Do some internet research but stick with sites that are reputable and reliable, this is no time to try alternative methods.
1. When you get ready to walk, do it with an audio book but stay off the street when you have earphones on. Walk at about 135 steps per minute, give or take a step or two, to achieve a healthy 4 mile per hour pace. If you are not ready for that pace yet that’s ok, work up to it slowly but keep progressing a little every day.
2. Keep good records of all your home tests, (blood sugar and blood pressure,) to take with you on Dr. visits.
3. Remember you are not alone. There are many hundreds of people doing the same thing you are doing….beating diabetes.