There are so many things that we are told when we get diagnosed and in all honestly, most of them are not very uplifting or positive. Yes, we absolutley need to understand insulin, carb counting, exercise, and medications to name just a few. While that is all necessary, I wish someone had told me how to get support, that not being perfect was ok, that my life wasn’t over! So, in honor of PLAD’s 6 month anniversary, I wanted to list out the top 10 things that I wish I was told about my “new normal”.
1) Your life isn’t over
You life is not over my friend, you have a “new normal”. No, things will never be the same again but that does not mean that you cant live life to the fullest. When I was diagnosed, I thought I was doomed. That was it. This is the end. That was my shock and depression talking.
2) You can still have food that you love
There will be many times that you are told that diabetics SHOULD NOT or CANNOT EAT certain things but depriving yourself of food that you love is not the solution and, in fact, not even smart. Yes, you can still have birthday cake, pizza, skittles etc the key now is moderation and to fully ENJOY it when you do have it.
3) You can live a long and healthy life, complications free, with WELL not PERFECT managed diabetes
There have been so many advancements in technology, medications, and management techniques that they probability of developing complications due to diabetes has decreased SIGNIFICANTLY. The key take away here is that your numbers don’t have to be perfect. No one expects them to be and they don’t need to be. WELL managed diabetes (defined as 60 – 70% amount of “time in range” which is 70 – 180 mg/l, and an A1c below 7.5%) is what you should be working towards. Not beating yourself up over fluctuating numbers.
4) You HAVE to be your biggest advocate
This is a big one my friend. You NEED to take an active role in your health. You need to ask your Dr, pharmacist, nutritionist, coach etc questions to further your understanding of YOUR disease. This is something that you live with, not them, so make sure that you are working with them to learn form their expertise. Not sure what medications you are on or even why? ASK! Interested in pharmacy savings card, discounts, or samples? ASK! Want to have your cake and eat it too? ASK! You have a whole team of people that have made it their profession to help you, so take advantage.
5) Everyone’s diabetes management is different
There are definitely guidelines to follow when it comes to diabetes but there is not a one-size-fits magic formula. For me, I need to take insulin for coffee…. Plain black coffee… which has no carbs…. This is not the same for any of my other diabuddies. However, whenever they have a drink (wine or mixed) their blood sugars always drop while mine either stay the same or sky rocket. So, learn from your other diabetic friends but don’t compare because how one person responds does not automatically mean that another does.
6) Involve your support system
It took me a long time to do this one. Everyone in my family and friend group offered to help in any way that they could. They wanted to help. I did not let them though. I was mad, scared, bitter, depressed, and in denial. I did not know how to handle this “new normal” in the beginning. I decided that I was going to do it all on my own because they did not nor ever could understand that I was feeling. You know what? They still don’t completely understand what I am going through and I never want them to but I let them help me! Now they understand how I act when I am going low or high. They know what to look out for and how to help me. They might not ever understand but they could save my life.
7) You are not ALONE
This is a big one. It is easy to get caught up in the idea that no one understands you and that you are having to go through this by yourself. That is not true. There is a HUGE community of people who understand EXACTLY what you are going through and looking for others to connect with. Whether you need to vent, talk recipes, workouts, or discuss burnout techniques there is an entire WORLD out there willing and wanting to help you go through something that they feel too.
8) Having feelings of depression and sadness is OK!
Whether you call it burnout, exhaustion, being tired, or not wanting to deal with it anymore that is completely normal and even healthy to acknowledge.
9) Give yourself some grace because sometimes you could do everything right still not get the results you want
Einstein defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results”. Well, Einstein, you obviously never dealt with diabetes where you do the exact same thing over and over but get different results! Everyday is something different and it will show. You can literally sleep the same amount, eat the same thing, at the exact same time, with the same insulin, stress level, and activity but get different glucose readings…. With no reasonable explanation. I am not telling you this to scare you or discourage you. Quite the opposite actually. I am telling you this so that you know it is normal, even expected! Give yourself some grace. Understand that there will be ups and downs (pun intended). Celebrate the small victories.
If someone were to come to you right after their diagnosis what advice would you give them?