Welcome to the Family
You've just experienced a massive rollercoaster. And probably a few months prior that were equally as alarming. But you're here. You made it. And while we always hate welcoming another member to our family, we're always glad once things get sorted and you find us.
You're going to get lots of books and links to posts and paperwork to read from your healthcare team. But we want you to know a few more things, perhaps topics that won't be mentioned by anyone in the hospital.
If you've just been diagnosed with diabetes, here is what we (your new family of fellow persons with diabetes) think you should know.
Connect With Us, Your New Family
Use support. Lean into it, fully. Either through your One Drop app, through the One Drop Facebook Group, other diabetes Facebook Groups, diabetes forums (like Beyond Type 1 or Beyond Type 2). Build a support system outside of your friends and family, but also make sure you find support among friends and family. The more resources you have, the better.
Become Your Best Advocate
Learn how to be your own best advocate. Because no one else (not even your doctor) will advocate for you the way you will for yourself. Make personal diabetes homework a priority and constant. Do not rely solely on healthcare professionals. It will be overwhelming -- there is so much to learn, always! Whenever you have them, ask questions to peers and doctors. Seek mental health providers if you need them (many of us do!). Read up on the latest technology (insulin pumps, bluetooth pens) and advancements being made.
Continuing Education for Life
Know that you will continue to learn for the rest of your life. Not only does all the technology and medicine change, but so does your body. Your body will continue to renew, change, and update itself, which means that you will need to update your diabetes management regimen simultaneously.
Live Your Best Life
Diabetes is a great excuse to live a healthy life. The more you read up on the way diabetes works and begin to understand how it works in your body, the better equipped you’ll be to lead an extremely healthy, beautiful life. More so, even, than many of your peers without diabetes.
Low Blood Sugar Magic
Always have something on you to treat a low blood sugar. Whether that’s glucose tablets, glucose gel, a pack of crackers, or Smarties, be sure you have something on you, at all times. You never know when a low will strike.
Your Plans Will Fault You
Doctors, medical practitioners, and even friends and family will tell you that if you do X, Y, & Z, you’ll get the perfect result, every time. This is not true. There is in an extraordinary list of variables that impacts blood sugar and diabetes management. The fool-proof plan you set up today may not work tomorrow. And that is perfectly fine. You are a living, breathing organism that changes each day; math equations do not apply to your body.
Be Kind to Yourself and to Your Body
Everyday is different and some are harder than others. On the hard days, don’t be afraid to reach out to get support or to simply vent. Above all, be patient with yourself. Show up for yourself everyday, but never forget to bestow grace upon your marvelous self.
Do Whatever It Takes to Find a Great Endo
Find a great endocrinologist. One that advocates for you, is up for having you try new things and experiment with new methods and technologies. If you start to sense that your doctor only wants to follow his or her protocol and is not open to new ideas, leave. Shop around if you have to! Search for other opinions and viewpoints until you find someone who is 100% supportive of your needs.
All Bodies Are Complex, Different, and Amazing -- Find What Works for Yours
It is not a one-size-fits-all approach to diabetes. Different things work for different people. Every body is different and reacts differently to diabetes therapies, as well as all those external variables. Some work better than others using pumps and technology, while others do best going old-school and only using multiple-daily-injections and blood glucose meters. Try everything and see what sticks for you, for the present time. What works best now can always change, and that’s cool, too!
Flip the Narrative
You won’t always get it right. These aren’t mistakes, per se. These are chances to learn. You’ll eat exactly what you were supposed to, take your meds, and be sky high, for absolutely no logical reason. It will happen. Use it as an opportunity to learn more about your body and how it reacts -- to just about anything!
The More You Know Your Data
Knowledge is power. The key to diabetes is understanding how your body works; how it reacts to all sorts of different factors. The best way to understand is to check your blood sugar, often. Four times a day? Yep. 10 times a day? Yep. 20 times a day? Yes! As many times as it takes so that you can see the full picture of how not just food affects your blood sugar, but sleep, stress, walking to the corner store, lifting weights in the morning versus the evening, medication dosing in the middle of the day, or getting too much sun out on the beach. The more you check, the more you'll know. And the more you know, the better prepared you are to handle anything your diabetes throws your way.
Look for the Good
Learn to laugh. You’re going to have bad days, bad bouts, even. But you will get through it, over it, under it -- by whatever means necessary, you will come out the other side all the better for it. And when you can -- you won’t always be able to -- laugh. When you take a step back to look at how far you’ve come and what crazy thing it all is, it’s kind of incredible. And preposterous, hilarious, nonsensical, and beautiful.
We Love You. We're Here for You
You are never alone. There are millions of us out here. And everything you’ve been through or will go through, we’ve been through it, too. We’re here for you -- if you need advice on a new technology, a specific way of eating, or blood sugar weirdness. All of us -- the millions of us -- are more than happy (thrilled!) to talk with you, to support you, to grow with you on your journey. You’ll surprise yourself; you’re stronger than you think. You will rock this.