Diabetes can be a very difficult disease to manage and even those that normally have great control can slip every once in a while. That is normal. The problem is that once you start to slip it can be difficult to get back. The path to bad diabetes management is a slippery slope and one can find that the great control they had is now just out of reach. Diabetes is a game of continuous adjustments to all areas of the management plan. By letting your guard down in one area, all other areas are affected—this is when the downward spiral begins. Almost everyone living with diabetes finds themselves at the bottom of this spiral at some point or other wondering where to start to get back on track.
Not to worry, it isn’t as intimidating as it looks. But you do have to be willing to work hard to create and follow a great diabetes management plan. And the key is you. You have to decide you want to control your diabetes and not let it control you. Here are a few steps that can help to get back on track:
1. Acknowledge the problem. This can be one of the hardest things to do. Once you acknowledge that you have poor control, you must act on it. You may feel that it may be easier not to admit to yourself that you are in bad shape. This step is the hardest because no one else can help; you are the only person that can start the process of finding good control.
2. Identify problem areas and weaknesses. Everyone struggles with different areas of diabetes management. For some it may be remembering to take their medication, for others it may be having seconds on dessert too often. Whatever it is that you struggle with the most needs the most attention in order to overcome the weakness. It is okay to have several weaknesses. Make sure that you and those helping you are stricter when it comes to correcting those areas so they won’t continue to mess up your diabetes management plan.
3. Meet with your doctor. Once you know what your problem areas are and have a desire to get back to good diabetes management, make an appointment to see your doctor. If you aren’t dedicated to your own health, your doctor can’t do a lot to help you. But if you are, then she will be key in helping you meet your goals and may have some great solutions to overcoming your weaknesses.
4. Make adjustments. Once you have received advice from your doctor, dietician, CDE and any other members of your medical team, it is time to make necessary adjustments in medication, diet and lifestyle. Start by working with your healthcare team and following their recommended modifications to your management plan. Feel free to make your own changes too. Ultimately, you know your own body the best so tweak and alter until you find something that works for you personally. It is always a good idea to keep your medical team in the loop when you do decide to make your own changes.
5. Check your blood sugar frequently. This is a simple step but is often overlooked. Checking your blood sugar is the only look you have into what your body is doing at any point during the day. Check your blood sugar frequently to make sure you are staying in your desired range, especially while you are adjusting your plan.
6. Break bad habits. You can make as many temporary changes as you want and meet with your doctor as much as you like, but if you have bad habits, they will always throw off your control. These habits may include indulging in a bedtime treat, in too many drinks with dinner or in days off from your diabetes care. We all have bad habits, and we can work around them for a while, but eventually they will get in the way of good management and control.
7. Build a support system. If you don’t already have a support system of people to help you stay on track with your diabetes, get one. Ask your loved ones for help. Diabetes is so much harder to live with if you have to carry the burden alone. When you get the opportunity, educate those around you about diabetes so that they can be there for you. Support is one of the essential factors to great control. If those in your life support your goals for better diabetes control, then you are more likely to succeed.
8. Review blood sugars often. When you feel like you are on top of your diabetes management and in good control of your blood sugar levels, the process isn’t over. Periodically review your blood sugars and make needed adjustments to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Our bodies are always changing—from stress, from age, from hormones, etc.—so we have to constantly change our treatment plan to keep up with it.
9. Stay focused. Remember what caused you to slip up in the first place? It probably was because you became complacent or lost your focus on what matters most. What matters most is your health. In order to remain healthy you must stay focused on your diabetes management 100% of the time.