I know this is called “Do-It-Yourself Diabetes Management.” I firmly believe that you are the #1 person who can control and manage your diabetes. However, you cannot do it alone. People with diabetes need a team to work with to help manage their disease. Your team should consist of these key people to support your health and wellness:
- Your primary doctor and possibly an endocrinologist (diabetes specialist)
- Dietitian who specialize in diabetes education
- Exercise specialist
- Psychotherapist (can be a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist)
- Dentist and periodontist, podiatrist and ophthalmologist
- Also, a cardiologist (to monitor heart disease), nephrologist (to monitor kidney disease) or neurologist (to monitor nerve damage) would be needed at some point.
After finding out you have diabetes from your primary care doctor you should request to be referred to a certified diabetes educator. The diabetes educator will teach you how to control your disease with meal planning, exercise, medication (if applicable), blood glucose testing, and basically answer all the questions you might have. These visits may be individual or in small group classes and are usually covered by insurance.
Once you understand how to control your diabetes, you may want to attend support groups to keep updated about possible changes or to help you stick with your plan.
Your next step is to make appointments to see a podiatrist, ophthalmologist, and endocrinologist. Since different parts of the body can be affected by diabetes, it is critical to have annual or bi-annual exams to protect yourself against serious complications.
YOU are the most important member because diabetes is self-managed. This means that you make food and exercise choices, you control the times you test your blood sugar to determine the effects things you do have on your body and you also choose to reduce stress in your life with helpful techniques such as support groups, deep breathing, spending time with family and friends and if necessary, a therapist.