Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.  

There are a lot of expectations when it comes to good diabetes control. Some of those expectations are set by you — the patient. Others are set by your doctor and medical care team. Whatever the expectations, make sure that they are in line with good health decisions for your personal needs.

Life in numbers

In the world of diabetes management, there are a lot of numbers to measure. Some of those numbers, such as blood sugar readings and A1c levels, determine how well you are managing your diabetes. Other numbers, however, are not so set in stone and should be discussed with your doctor more frequently. These would be things like the amount of carbs or calories you should be eating, or an appropriate weight loss goal.

Individual needs

Your needs may not be the same as another diabetic's. There is a myth in the world of diabetes that there is a right and a wrong way to do things. Diabetes is a very complicated disease and it can be hard to understand the way our bodies react to our environment. Something that works for me may not work for you. Everyone living with diabetes needs to find what treatment and lifestyle changes work best. A big part of good diabetes control comes from trial and error to find what works best.

Don’t compare yourself to others you may know who have diabetes. They may seem like they have it all figured out when it comes to diabetes care, but we don’t always see the whole story. Focus on your own care and set goals for yourself. Don’t try to measure up to someone else's expectations. When setting goals, make sure they are realistic and that you make a plan to reach them. It isn’t healthy for your self-esteem or your diabetes management to set goals that don't make sense or are unachievable for you. In some situations, you may need to make some drastic lifestyle changes. If this is the case then make sure you work with your medical team to create a plan of action. In most cases, though, it is the little goals and victories that bring the biggest change and the best results.

No matter what your situation is, it is important to set expectations for yourself in your diabetes care. Make sure that you keep the lines of communication open with your doctor and medical team. Let them know what your expectations are for yourself and ask for their help in reaching the goals that you have set. You may need your doctor’s help in setting appropriate expectations, but you should be the one with the final say. In the end, you are the only one who can make a difference and take control of your diabetes.