If you have diabetes, you’re likely continually aware of the condition. Diabetes is not something that one easily forgets. Living with a chronic condition, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is enough to wear anyone down. In addition, diabetes is a disease of self-management – up to 99% of diabetes care is up to you. And that’s on top of everything else you have to do in your life, like going to work or taking care of your family. Over time, you might feel overwhelmed or discouraged.
Starting your journey
Most people with diabetes want to take care of themselves, but it can be hard to know where to begin or what to focus on. When it comes to diabetes self-management, it seems like there are so many things to do: check your blood sugar, count your carbs, exercise, check your feet, keep appointments, take your medication…it’s understandable to feel like it’s all just too much and throw your hands up in despair.
You might be familiar with the saying “A journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.” If it helps, try thinking of your diabetes self-care as a journey. You won’t get there overnight or even in a week. But over time, with perseverance, you can get to a comfortable place where you feel more confident and comfortable with your diabetes.
Steps to take
If you’re just getting started with taking care of your diabetes, or what’s commonly called “diabetes self-care,” here are some suggestions that can help you learn about, monitor and manage your diabetes. Pick one or two steps to work on now; later, after you feel like you’re on track with those, choose one more!
- Learn about your diabetes. There are different types of diabetes. Find out what type you have, what your treatment options are, and why taking care of your diabetes can lessen the chances of getting complications.
Tip: Find out about diabetes classes in your community, meet with a diabetes educator or go online to learn more about diabetes.
- Know your diabetes ABCs. Find out how to get and keep your A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol in a safe range. Along with your ABCs, make sure you know about other tests and exams that you need, such as tests for kidney health, a dilated eye exam and a yearly foot exam.
Tip: Keep a record of your ABCs and other tests. Know your goals and your results.
- Know how to live with diabetes. Making lifestyle changes isn’t easy, and diabetes self-care usually means that you’ll need to make some changes in the way you eat and your level of physical activity. You might need to lose some weight. You also might need to start taking diabetes medicine and start checking your blood sugar levels. If you’re struggling with having diabetes and feeling down, sad or anxious, there are things that you can do to make it easier to deal with living with a chronic condition.
Tip: Talk with your doctor, diabetes educator or mental health counselor if you need help in managing any aspect of your diabetes. Help is available!
- Get into a routine. Managing diabetes is a whole lot easier if you keep track of what you need to do and set up a schedule for yourself. Doing so can include planning your meals ahead of time, keeping a calendar of your healthcare appointments, logging your food intake and blood sugar results, and even checking into your health insurance to find out what they cover when it comes to diabetes management.