10 Things You Should Do After Being Diagnosed with Diabetes
While receiving a diabetes diagnosis can be scary, there are many resources available that can help you feel educated and in control of your health. It’s estimated that 34.2 million people of all ages have diabetes in the United States, so take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone as you navigate this new part of your life.
Managing diabetes and improving your overall health requires having an individual diabetes care plan. This plan should address not only your specific healthcare needs but also logistical concerns—like how to obtain and pay for medications. While it may be overwhelming at the start, we’ve compiled ten steps you can take as you move forward after your diagnosis. Regardless of the type of diabetes, many people can not only manage their condition but are also able to thrive.
Speak with Your Primary Care Professional
You should begin your care plan by meeting with your diagnosing physician and ensuring that you bring a list of your questions. Be an advocate for yourself and make sure that your needs and questions are being readily addressed.
Your doctor will likely be the professional you see most often, and they’ll be responsible for your blood work, prescribing medication, and helping you manage your blood glucose levels. Make sure that you’re following the diabetes care plan they’ve laid out for you and attend all of your scheduled appointments and check-ups. Showing up for your appointments is an important part of self-care.
Check-ups are the perfect time to let your doctor know about any changes you’ve been experiencing with your health or any side effects you’ve noticed from your medication. Your health is dynamic, so expect that you’ll encounter changes as time passes.
Meet with Specialists
Depending on your type of diabetes and your health status, a primary care physician may refer you to one or more of the following specialists that treat conditions that are related to diabetes:
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, as it involves the pancreas. If you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 and are having difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels, you may be referred to an endocrinologist. They’ll work closely with you to control your blood sugar and prevent further health problems.
People with diabetes may experience complications that involve their eyes, such as cataracts or glaucoma. It’s important to let your care provider know of your new diagnosis so they can treat your condition appropriately.
Diabetes can impact the feet due to reduced blood circulation, which can affect skin health and the nerves in your feet. You should have your feet checked once a year by a podiatrist to ensure they’re in good health.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Make the doctor-recommended changes to your diet and lifestyle. Although every patient is different, the best advice is tried, tested and true: eat healthy food, exercise often, and reduce stress as much as possible.
A basic diabetes diet is rich in nutrients and fiber and low in fat, calories, and over-processed foods. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the enormous amount of diet information available on the internet, so listen to your doctor’s advice and take your time as you figure out what works best for you and your body.
When you receive your diagnosis, it’s important to take an honest look at the habits that could be negatively affecting your overall health, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Try to reduce your alcohol intake and ask your doctor about a smoking cessation program.
If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, losing weight may also be recommended by your doctor. By changing your diet and exercising more, you will be well on your way to achieving a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) score.
Learn About and Take Your Medication
Although some people with diabetes will be able to manage their blood sugar with lifestyle changes alone, many people will require medication. In fact, at the time of diagnosis, most people will require at least one blood glucose-lowering medication. This medication could be a pill, injection, or insulin pump. People with diabetes are commonly prescribed insulin to help manage their blood glucose levels.
Feel free to ask your doctor all of your questions about the medications and their side effects. You’ll learn how to monitor your blood sugar, recognize the symptoms of high and low blood sugar, how to administer your medication, and best practices for identification and storage. Be sure to obtain a medical alert bracelet to let others know that you require this life-saving medication.
Over time, taking your medication will become second nature, but it’s normal if it’s challenging at first.
Call Your Insurance Company
Once you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, take a good look at your insurance plan so that you understand how or if your medical appointments, medication, and medical supplies will be covered.
Speak with an insurance representative to understand the cost of your monthly premium and any deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses you could incur.
People with diabetes spend more money on healthcare than those who don’t have the condition, so ensure that you find the most affordable and comprehensive plan available to you.
Assess Your Finances
Managing diabetes can be hard on your wallet. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the average cost of healthcare for a person with diabetes is $16,752 each year, so it’s necessary to assess your financial situation to ensure that you can manage your diabetes care plan.
As well to finding the best health insurance plan, there are several financial assistance plans for those living with diabetes. Take your time researching your options.
Find Low-Cost Options for Insulin
The high cost of insulin in the United States is reaching a crisis point, and it’s increasingly challenging for people with diabetes to afford access to this life-saving treatment. Companies like Canadian Insulin sell low-cost diabetes medication and supplies to Americans living with diabetes to meet this demand. With savings as high as 80%, American diabetics have access to affordable insulin that they may not be able to afford within their borders.
US residents can easily buy Canadian insulin and supplies for diabetes online. The insulin is shipped directly to their homes with a refrigerated express transportation to ensure its high quality.
Connect with Educational Resources
There are innumerable resources available to help people that have recently been diagnosed with diabetes. You can access information from the internet, books, online lectures, reading material from your doctor, and so much more. But try not to feel burdened by the sheer amount of available content. Take your time as you learn the ins and outs of this condition and what exactly your body needs for optimal health.
You can take a look at the following resources to get started:
While fact sheets and education are key to developing your diabetes care plan, connecting with people who are going through a similar experience is essential. It’s been shown that peer support groups for people with diabetes are highly beneficial, easily accessible, and offer a sense of community, education, and empowerment. The long-term effects of such programs show improved and sustained self-care, psychological health, and glycemic control.
Talking and sharing with others can not only teach you more about diabetes but can help you feel less alone as you’re struggling to come to terms with a new diagnosis.
While any new diagnosis can create stress or worry, recognize that by taking actionable steps, you are taking control and doing what you can to create positive change.
Take the time to notice what is creating stress in your life and find ways to limit it. Ongoing stress affects how insulin functions in the body which can make managing blood glucose levels even harder.
Note that 76% of people experience shame around their diagnosis, so if you’re feeling worried, anxious, or ashamed in any way, be sure to schedule an appointment with a mental health practitioner so you can receive care and support.
During this time of transition, you can practice self-care to help support yourself. You can try deep breathing techniques or meditation and ensure you give yourself a healthy, daily dose of self-compassion.
Getting diagnosed with diabetes can be a life-changing moment, but not necessarily in a negative way. By connecting with healthcare professionals, making positive changes to your lifestyle, finding affordable medication, and linking up with your community, you may find that you’re thriving in a way you weren’t before your diagnosis.
Rest assured that there is a lot of support available as long as you reach out and find it. And remember that you don’t have to know everything at once. Begin by stabilizing your blood sugar, asking questions, and trusting that the little steps you take each day will eventually add up to make huge changes to your health.