Recently, I met a middle-aged gentleman - we'll call him Tom - in a public place. He expressed to me that he had just been diagnosed with diabetes and that his doctor had left for vacation the following day. At first, Tom was fine with that because he had an appointment coming up in four weeks to meet with the doctor again. But as he started to tell his friends and family that he'd just learned he had diabetes, he began to panic.
Then he found out there is no cure for diabetes. And when his friends and family started asking him questions and providing him with their own advice, he realized he didn't have enough information about diabetes and really didn't know where to turn.
All in all, Tom realized he had left the doctor's office quite ill-prepared to deal with his diagnosis. Basically, he knew he had diabetes, was given some pills to take and was told to follow up in one month when the doctor was back from vacation. And what was worse, he said, he didn't know he should have asked more questions.
That sounds pretty scary, right? Hopefully, few people find themselves in Tom's situation. But if you do, please know there are places to turn for help and information:
- Seek advice from experts: I'm sure Tom's doctor has a colleague who would have been available to see Tom or take his calls if he had voiced his concerns. So, a good place to start is with your primary care physician's office. Make sure you fully discuss all of your questions and concerns. And if you think of more questions, ask them!
- Search for information from reliable sources: Tom could have searched the Internet for information from reliable sources to fill in the gaps when he became confused with all the information family and friends were bombarding him with. Websites like diabetes.org, cdc.gov/diabetes, and eatright.org are just a few examples of good resources you can access to get basic diabetes information.
- Turn to a local health organization: Also, Mount Nittany Health's website - mountnittany.org - provides information on diabetes classes, support groups and additional diabetes services, as well as access to helpful articles written by experts in the field.
So, without a cure, what's a person to do when they find out they have diabetes? Follow these steps to help manage your diabetes:
- Find out what's best for you: Talk to your healthcare provider about what is best for you. Generally, managing type 2 diabetes is a balance of healthy eating, being physically active every day, taking medications to lower blood glucose if prescribed, and checking your blood glucose to see if this plan is working.
- Educate yourself: Enroll in a diabetes self-management class to learn all you can about living a healthy life with diabetes.
- Speak with others: Join a support group so you can network with others who have learned or are learning to manage their diabetes.
- Read up: Take advantage of trusted diabetes magazines and valid websites to keep yourself informed of new tools, medications and treatment options that are becoming increasingly available to improve diabetes management.
- Make smart decisions: Remember that you are in charge of managing your diabetes. You may only see your healthcare provider every three to six months for their input, but YOU will make many choices every day that will impact how well your diabetes is controlled and what your health outcome will be. The more you know, the better equipped you are to manage your diabetes like a pro.
For more information on managing your diabetes, visit mountnittany.org, or call Mount Nittany Health's diabetes team at 814.231.7095.