Dealing with a diabetes diagnosis?

Dealing with a diagnosis of diabetes can be absolutely paralyzing. Where do you start? How do you know what to do? What is important right away? In this short post, I hope to share some thoughts that will help you find the right path for lifelong success with diabetes.

It is important to know that you did not do this to yourself. Society has many misconceptions about diabetes these days, and it's easy to feel a lot of guilt because of them. Let go of the guilt. It is a poison that will sabotage all of the hard work you have in front of you.

Handling a diabetes diagnosis requires a team approach

One of the very first things I recommend is to start building your care team. Diabetes is often diagnosed by a general practitioner or family practice doctor. They are often very good at what they do, but there is another sort of doctor that specializes in diabetes. This doctor is usually called an endocrinologist. You need to find one right away.

A good endocrinologist should have a number of other specialists at their disposal. Some of those may include the following:

  1. Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). CDE's are usually incredibly talented clinicians that spend a lot of time covering the nuts and bolts of how diabetes works and what you can do to influence your numbers.
  2. Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist. Food is one of the most powerful tools you have in your toolbox for managing diabetes. But like many powerful tools, there is a lot to learn about it. Having a food specialist in your corner can help.
  3. Podiatrist. Living with diabetes can affect the blood flow and health of the nerves in your feet. It's important to visit a foot doctor regularly to keep a close eye on your feet.
  4. Cardiologist. This doctor can help keep an eye on your heart.
  5. Ophthalmologist. Speaking of eyes, you need an expert to keep an eye on yours. Unusually high blood sugars can cause problems with your eyes that you can't necessarily see for yourself. This doctor can take a close look at the health of your eyes and help you keep them in great shape.
  6. Psychologist. Diabetes management is a long term game. Keeping your head on straight can be a challenge, and there's nothing wrong with getting a little help in that department too.

Your care team most likely will change over time to adapt to your unique situation, and you should not be afraid or ashamed to ask for whatever help you need. The more help you have, the better off you should be.

In addition to professional medical help, there are a ton of peer-to-peer resources available too. Connecting with others in similar situations can be a great help. In fact, those connections can often help you make the most of your professional care team by helping you learn what questions to ask and how to implement some of their instructions.

Take your time through this. It is all very overwhelming, and it's easy to get confused and frustrated. Remember, you don't need to learn everything right away. Most importantly, reach out if you need help. We are all here for you. You can do this.

About Scott K Johnson

Scott was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1980. Since 2004, he has been writing about his successes and struggles with diabetes. Connect with Scott on The Diabetes Collective and on Twitter.


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