Run errands. Visit friends. Clean the house. Finish that report. Entertain the family. Fix the car. Stay late at work… There are incessant obligations in life. Some of them are urgent, some not so much.
But, even if you don’t want to admit it, your needs come first.
We all get only one body. One. If you neglect your body while having a serious health concern like diabetes, and you could soon feel the consequences, (some of which could prevent you from accomplishing any of that really important stuff you chose over your body in the first place, forcing you to pay attention to your needs).
It’s not selfish; it’s not weak to take care of your health before anything else. If you don’t do it, who will? How will anything else get done if you cannot muster up the strength and energy to complete your other tasks and goals? Being continuously wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced life can also cause us to make poor choices about our health, which isn’t a faux pas you can afford if you have to manage your blood sugar.
You know what they say: the hardest part is getting started. This where many diabetics get dazed and confused, uncertain of where to begin, but it is also the best time to get involved with others so you can stay responsible and accountable for your diabetes while having an actual life. The following three resources can help you get on track in no time, mostly because they are either very simple to incorporate into your life, or they are already present!
- Health Care Professionals
You likely already know that regular checkups with your primary care physician are necessary when you have diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational). Making sure everything is running smoothly with your blood sugar is a given, and your regular doctor can certainly do that, but visiting specialists is just as important- if not more. Due to the fact that diabetes can affect the nervous system and various organs, making appointments with an ophthalmologist/optometrist, dentist, and podiatrist can uncover any eye problems, dental ailments, and foot or toe concerns which affect diabetics at disproportionately higher rates due to the nature of the disease.
Neurologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, and other specialists can help identify, prevent, and determine the best course of treatments for any issues related to nerve damage, hormonal imbalances, and skin diseases related to diabetes.
Don’t have a designated specialist who you can call in a hurry? Primary care physicians will provide patients with referrals to specialists upon request, and your local hospital should have a diabetes support group or education sessions led by health care pros who also double as diabetes educators. The worst possible thing you can do is wait for the feeling ‘to pass’ or make excuses that you don’t actually need to see a doctor because the pain suddenly disappeared… Many diabetics suffer from neuropathy, nerve damage which can either abnormally impair or increase the sensation of pain. Just because you don’t feel pain anymore, does not mean it was insignificant and simply disappeared. If you feel something is amiss within your body, please make an appointment right away.
Communities are often an underused resource. Believe it or not, there are plenty of others- possibly even neighbors- who have diabetes and want to learn how to connect with other diabetics, better coping strategies, advice, and to just enjoy some time among people dealing with the exact same concerns.
From organized walks, cycling events, meetup groups, school fundraisers, you name it, it exists. If you live in a more rural area and cannot find a group of the sort, consider partnering up with a trusted supporter or courageously going solo and spearheading your own support group. Discussing how to deal, recipe swaps, fitness activities, personal stories and is very psychologically healthy, inspiring and empowering to those who may feel too shy, isolated, or discouraged to initiate things on their own.
You might be thinking, “I don’t know anyone [else] with diabetes! Who would want to learn about something that doesn’t affect them? Well, consider this: Over 1 in 3 people have prediabetes- a key indicator of future diabetes diagnosis if left untreated and unmanaged- with 90% of those also unaware of their condition. 1 out of 11 people have diabetes, with 25% of those not even knowing they are diabetic. Chances are, you do know someone who either has diabetes, or a high chance to develop it. Either way, getting the word out is important to managing or stopping this disease in its tracks.
So, when we say, “you’re not alone”, this is not a cliché, we really mean it!
- Friends & Family
Whether you come home to relax and discuss your day with any family members, your home is where you rest and unpack most of your burdens. Not everyone likes to divulge all their feelings, aches and pains to their friends and family, and that’s ok, but for many, they are still valuable resources of support and acceptance.
Getting into a routine will require some mutual understandings or maybe even assistance from your friends and family. Perhaps it’s asking your daughter to remind you to check your blood sugar daily, suggesting adding salad into your weekly grocery list, asking the kids for a certain hour of quiet time so you can rest, telling your friends you’ll be the designated driver since you are cutting back on alcohol anyway, or meeting your best friend for an early Saturday morning workout. There are countless simplistic ways to get your family and friends on board and more engaged with helping you manage your diabetes. They care for you, and nothing done in the name of love is an inconvenience.
These resources are for support- not substitution of good self-care habits. Eating healthy, exercising, checking glucose levels, sleeping properly, receiving health examinations, and, most importantly, remembering to take some ‘me-time’ are vital to reining in diabetes to avoid any complications later. It is hard work, and it can take time to develop a routine that works for your lifestyle, but it’s entirely attainable! Use these three resources and you’ll be on your way to a better diabetes routine in no time.
Want to learn more about these resource types or wish to expand your options for support? Join us at our 2015 Diabetes Expo in Houston on October 17th! Live cooking demonstrations, free health screenings, celebrity guests, child-friendly activities, and more await you, so please sign up today! If you have more immediate questions you would like answered, please visit the American Diabetes Association’s Center for Information here.