Maintaining good diabetes management requires a good deal of dedication, discipline and patience. The day to day checking of blood sugar levels, counting carbs, treating highs and/or lows and even trying to squeeze in just a little bit of daily exercise can be a drag. However, while the redundancy of these essential tasks is tiresome, it is never an excuse for neglect or laziness. Let’s take a step back in time when the diagnosis of diabetes was new. In the beginning once the shock wore off and you settled into the “new normal” what came next was the well thought out intention of practicing good diabetes management. It was during this time that you made sure to check your blood sugars like you were supposed to and even when you were not required too, you changed the lancet each time because that is what you were taught to do, you even gave up some of your favorite foods and made your portions smaller. You made sure that your supplies were neatly kept in the same place and you even had candy at the side of the bed for the times when your blood sugars were too low. You became the spokesperson for Diabetes and would tell your story to anyone who was patient enough to listen. Heck you were so good that those who were newly diagnosed often came to you for advice on what to expect and what to do, and you so freely and confidently gave that advice. It was clear to everyone that managing your diabetes was a top priority.
Now, 6 to 12 months later, It’s safe to say the novelty of the disease and its management has worn completely off, only to be replaced by disappointment, anger, frustration and just overall tiredness of having to deal with it day in and day out. While having these feelings are quite normal when dealing with any chronic disease, what often occurs with some individuals is laziness settles into the same place where eagerness and determination used to exist, supplies that were kept neatly in one specific area can now be seen scattered in various places, lancets that used to be changed with each glucose test are now repeatedly used over and over. No one asks about diabetes which is good, because frankly, you are sick and tired of talking about it. You just want it to go away.
Unfortunately, diabetes is not the jerk ex-boyfriend/girlfriend that you can just leave in your past. It is not the sister or brother who really pissed you off that you can simply hang up on and talk later, nor is it the person on facebook or twitter that you can unfriend or unfollow and they are gone forever. No my dear on the contrary, diabetes is the friend that never leaves, the sibling that will continue to do things to piss you off. It is here to stay(at least until a cure is found) and it is important that everyone takes the time to re-align their thinking with what is needed for good management and get back on track. Having to do the daily tasks is not fun, but becoming lazy is simply not an option. Don’t try to get back to the excitement you had when first started this unexpected journey. Instead, start right where you are and simply make an effort to do better each day. Remember, Implementing the smallest changes can really make a difference. If you know that using the same lancet over and over is not good(and typically causes more pain) then start changing it. If you know that you must check blood sugars consistently, then stop skipping. If you know going back to eating healthy is better for you overall, then start small by adding something healthy and new to your diet and cut back on something that isn’t very healthy. If you have lost that spark for exercise, then start small by simply walking around the house each day, or if walking has become too boring then try something else like kickboxing, cycling etc. The key is to get up and move each day. Keep in mind that exercise is good for blood sugars. Now is NOT the time to start feeling sorry for yourself. It is time to take control of your health and that includes taking control of your diabetes. Look, everyone must make choices each day, and making health a priority is a good one. Remember diabetes is manageable and people do not have to die from this disease, but the responsibility rests with you. Your healthcare providers are here to help you as much as they can, but we do not go home with you each day, and it is not fair to blame the physicians, diabetes educators, and dietitians when things are not going as planned. Now if you feel that you are not being heard by anyone within your healthcare team, or you feel that your needs are simply not being met, then by all means it is time to file for divorce and seek new courtship somewhere else. Remember, you are not MARRIED to your Doctor, CDE, Dietitian, etc.
This year make better diabetes management a resolution :-)
Helen A. Jenkins RN, CDE, Founder of Steps To Success, Diabetes Education & Management