You were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes years ago. You aptly use a glucose meter, choose low-carb healthy meals, exercise, and handle restaurants and vacations easily.
Yet, your doctor is now putting you on insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. Once mild insulin resistance easily treated by oral meds has now morphed into something scarier. You may want to hit a punching bag with the reality of this news.
Just as the disease is progressive, so is the treatment.
While your pancreas may be insulin-resistant, there’s no need for you to be resistant to insulin.
Here are real world tips about making it through the first few days and weeks on insulin. While it can be overwhelming at times, with a little patience and education, soon you will most likely be a pro again.
Establishing your insulin routine in everyday life is a great place to start. It's probably not the best time to take that once-in-a-lifetime cruise to Tahiti where everything in your routine will be different.
You are the person with the disease. Fortunately or unfortunately, this makes you the captain of the ship. Your doctor’s office may instruct you on some aspect of care, but may not follow up with you due to the volume of patients they see. Yes, that is terribly frustrating, but it is the reality of the crowded health care system. Tag. You're it.
But your doctor's office is a great clearinghouse for other support services you will need. You may need an in-house diabetes educator or one at local hospital, support groups, nutritionist services, samples of insulin pens and lancets, and educational materials. Offices also know which pharma companies have discount cards for products you need.
Tell your family your needs. Your diabetes affects the whole family dynamic. Tell your spouse if her hovering while you test your blood glucose level before dinner is sending you right up the wall. Let your partner and family know what your needs are because they can be a great source of compassion and understanding, if you help them with the understanding. (And family members — for heaven's sake, don't say "This isn't the worst thing that can happen to you," or "I want you to keep your kidneys and limbs." That is just not helpful!)
What about the actual logistics of taking insulin?
Before you leave the doctor’s office or pharmacy, make sure you have everything you need. This is tricky, because you don’t know yet what you don’t know. One patient wanted to start insulin on a Saturday, only to discover the bag from the local pharmacy lacked the two types of safety needles she needed for short-term and long-term insulin pens. Since they required a prescription, she was unable to reach the doctor’s office until Monday morning, resulting in an unnecessary delay.
If changing glucose meters, ask the pharmacist if you have everything you need. Another patient was given a new meter when changing to insulin, only to discover he couldn’t use it without control solution. The control solution did not come with the meter, nor was it kept on store shelves at any of the three major pharmacy chains in town. The solution had to be ordered and took two days.
Know How versus Show How is a phrase one patient made up for how technology is dumped on people at his workplace, yet it applies in the case of moving to insulin. While the insulin pens appear user-friendly, the first time is frightening. Any information or help you can get from your medical professional while in the office will ease your worries down the road. Most offices have a gadget that replicates skin so you can “practice” before actually giving yourself the injection.
This does not have to be a time of dread; you actually may feel relief once your insulin gives you improved control.
Here are two other articles for further reading: