Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
When newly diagnosed with diabetes, starting off with the right approach is important for two reasons: First, it’s usually easier to get your diabetes under good control in the early stages of the disease; Secondly, clinical studies show that achieving good control early provides benefits to your body that can last for decades.
Also, the diabetes habits you develop now will stick with you in the long-run. Really, we all know how hard it is to change behavior once we’re set in our ways!
So for example, you might want to take some time to look at the user’s manual that came with your glucose meter in order to learn how to set the alarms that will remind you to test at different times of day: before meals, about two hours after, and at wake time and bed time. You want those test times to become habit!
You’ll also want to set up some kind of reminders to get your essential medical tests done regularly:
-the A1c blood test (every three months)
-blood pressure (every six months at least) Take advantage of every doctor’s appointment to have this checked, especially if it’s been elevated or you’ve had concerns.
-microalbumin, lipids, and eye exam—all annually (unless concerns call for more frequent checks)
Attitude is a habit
Another habit that you’ll want to nurture early on is keeping an upbeat attitude. The voice in your own head is very, very important: you’ll want it to act as a cheerleader, rather than a negative force always telling you that you’ve failed.
There’s no question that it’s hard to stay upbeat when you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness.
You might be thinking: How do I stay positive when I feel like I’m being punished? Or What do I do when I feel so overwhelmed by having a disease that requires so much attention?
Taking care of yourself with diabetes is indeed a “mental game,” requiring you to learn to function comfortably on a number of levels:
-Personal (Emotional)—fighting off negative thoughts
-Social—interacting with others in social situations without stress
-Behavioral—preventing yourself from doing things you wish you wouldn’t, sometimes even self-destructive things
If you do find that you’re experiencing a mental struggle with your diabetes, connecting with other people walking in your shoes is often very comforting – and helpful.
Connecting with other PWDs (people with diabetes) regularly, either online or offline, is a habit worth forming!