10 Things You Should Do After Your Diabetes Diagnosis

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Let's go back to your day of diagnosis (nearly everyone remembers the exact day of the diagnosis) and discuss how to survive the first few days, weeks, and then months. How does you move forward through the labyrinth of emotional upheaval, steep learning curve of diabetes pathophysiology, and the world of technology?

Dealing with the diagnosis

The involved emotions are shock, denial, anger, and acceptance. Shock is the first emotion to display on the face of either parent or teen when informed of a diabetes diagnosis. Be easy on yourself and take the time you need to let everything sink in. Ask for support. Your physicians, nurses, dieticians, social workers, and psychologists are there to guide you.

Where do I go for the best diabetes care?

Choose the appropriate Diabetes Program after initial diagnosis. It is essential that the program include a physician experienced in type 1 diabetes management, a diabetes nurse educator, and a dietician. It also is helpful to have a dedicated psychosocial team.

How do I learn all that stuff that is being thrown at us?

Face it, most of you did not study biology in graduate school or go to medical school. There is a very steep learning curve to understand these medical terms. Read the materials that your Diabetes team provides for you and your family.

How do I interact with my diabetes team?

Most diabetes programs teach skills initially at diagnosis and then shortly afterwards, in a course called concepts, which explains why you are doing what you are doing. Be prepared and ask questions. Do not leave until you have had those nagging questions answered to your satisfaction. I also would suggest that you schedule your next follow-up.

Do I keep this new diagnosis to myself?

This is no time to keep the news to yourself. Talk to your other family members, friends, teachers, and coaches. They need to know so they can help you if necessary. Your friends cared about you before you developed diabetes and will continue to care for you afterwards. They will watch your back. Just like you will continue to watch theirs!

Is there a cure for diabetes?

Not yet. It is important to know that intense research is being conducted throughout the world looking for cures of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Is there anything that we can do now? Ask about research trials. Read my blogs and others on the latest research studies. Ask your diabetes team about national and local trials, as you may be eligible to participate. You also may be able to participate in research conducted at your own institution.

How are we going to pay for all this stuff?

The best answer is insurance. For parents and teens, it is important to understand your insurance coverage. If you do not have health insurance, ask your diabetes team to help you obtain insurance as soon as possible. The treatment of diabetes is expensive. You will be asked to obtain insulin, glucose meters, strips, lancets, glucagon, etc. Advocate for what you need.

Who can we talk to?

Connect with support groups such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association, etc. By reaching out to these advocacy organizations, you will meet others in the exact same situation that can offer their experiences. Keep in mind though, that not everyone's experiences will mirror yours. Listen to advice and counsel with your diabetes team.

How and when can I go back to school/work?

Work cooperatively with the school nurse/aide to assist in your diabetes treatment plan and advocate for your needs. Bring all your necessary supplies (and back-up supplies) to school. Talk to your coaches ands stay involved in your sports activities. Develop a "lockdown" plan with your diabetes team.

When will we go back to normal?

Well, how about the new normal? First, we move forward day to day. You call us with blood sugars, we adjust insulin, and we listen...a lot. Then we plan ahead, use new insulin regimens and technology. You begin to realize that you are still you and you begin to do what you did before with more planning.