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.
If you've been newly diagnosed with diabetes you can find a great support system, but it’s not going to magically appear. Since you’re the key player, it’s up to you to pull this system together, and then take a leading role.
You’ll hear a lot of talk about working with your “healthcare team.” You probably will work with some combination of a primary care physician or endcrinologist (diabetes specialist), nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE), ophthalmologist, and maybe even a nutritionist and exercise physiologist.
But the truth is, these professionals are not set up to work together as a team. They’re generally in different offices, maybe even at different clinics at various locations — so if you want them to share your test results, for example, you’ll have to speak up and request that your info be forwarded.
You're the captain
Unlike many chronic illnesses, there are a lot of different treatment options for diabetes. So if something your doctor or educator recommended isn’t working as well as you’d like, say so. If you want to try a new or different kind of therapy, ask. In other words, speak up! You are the captain of your healthcare team.
In fact, we encourage people with diabetes to think of their diabetes as a small business — and their healthcare team as their consultants:
Go in to your appointments with information on where your “business” stands (your glucose numbers and lab test results). Be prepared with clear goals you want to achieve and questions about how to get there. Then have the nurse, doctor, or educator advise you on these specifics to get the most out of your appointment time with them. Ask your most important questions right away, and don’t leave the office without having your most pressing concerns addressed. Remember, these people work for you! And their goal should be to help you do your best at self-managing diabetes.
To get your team together:
-Find a good doctor – see our tips on how to do that here.
-Find a good CDE (certified diabetes educator) – see our tips on what a CDE can do for you here.
-Try a nutritionist – learn what a nutrionist can do for you here.
-Find a support community! – if you’re reading these tips here at DiabeticConnect.com, you’re already tapping into the benefits of the online diabetes community to a certain extent. But there’s a growing amount of “support stuff” available for diabetes that you may not know about. Visit www.thediabetesresource.com to find many great personal websites and online resources.
Finding local support groups, classes and seminars is usually as simple as doing a quick web search or calling your local hospital. Most of these programs are free or low cost, and they offer a great way to meet others and learn some ways to improve your diabetes care at the same time. One great place to start is a national conference series called TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes). Look up their schedule here: www.tcoyd.org .
-Learn more about finding support online here.