The Personal Side of Diabetes

Posted by Kelly Ross Tokarski, R.N.
October 03, 2012

A year from now, or maybe three to six months from now, are you considering any changes in how you manage your diabetes?

  • Perhaps an improved A1C, cholesterol level or lower blood pressure?
  • Would you like to try and fit more time in your already busy day, then add the minimal recommended 30 minutes of exercise in?
  • Maybe you'd like to test blood sugars two, four or more times per day and keep records, reflect on those numbers and try to make sense of the trends?
  • Maybe you'd like to work on weight loss by keeping food records, planning then maintaining carbohydrate-controlled meals evenly spaced throughout your day, and what about snacks?
  • Or maybe you just want to figure out how not to miss a dose of your medication and/or supplement the right amount of insulin to prevent going too high and avoid going too low due to unpredictable life events that just seem to happen?

Does any of this sound familiar? Diabetes can seem like it takes a lot of spontaneity out of life because you just can't walk out the door and live your life without some planning.

Without a doubt, self-managing diabetes takes a lot of work. This often is in addition to all the other work/family/school obligations required of one living with diabetes.

The countless daily decisions needed for those living with diabetes to manage their diabetes effectively can seem daunting. This, at times, affects self-compliance, especially when the decisions result in unpredictable responses in blood sugar trends. Nothing is more frustrating for an individual who follows all the rules, yet still isn’t able to control their numbers. Does this lead to the attitude of "what's the point?" Hopelessness in the face of diabetes can result, but by recognizing the obstacles of good self-care can get you back on track.

Having diabetes does not mean you are sick. People with diabetes can be healthy in the same way as people without diabetes. It just takes a bit more planning

Diabetes self-management means you are in charge of making healthy choices every day. By maintaining daily personal accountability, it can lead to greater self-control.

However, equally important is recognizing the misperception and belief that you may feel the need to be perfect in an imperfect world. No one is perfect, yet this perception may lead to emotional distress such as anxiety, guilt, anger and discouragement. You may feel trapped, resulting inevitably in avoidance. Consequently, avoidance can leave one to experience a sense of restlessness, leading to greater complacency with diabetes self-management. Be patient with yourself! Learning to self-manage your diabetes takes time.

It's a common human response to think things will change just because we want them to. Yet, life will change only when habits change. Your health care team can introduce you to new, positive ways to care for yourself and your diabetes. We'll work together, revisit strategies, negotiate goal setting and consider opportunities to lift barriers that may be interfering with your self-management efforts. Understanding and revisiting what you can do to stay healthy and reduce the risk of complications is the first step.

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