Diabetes Survival Guide

Revised 5/20/14

After seeing the response to this post, I thought I should make it readily available.   I will update it every so often as new information becomes available, or as I remember something important enough to require an update.  As always, my goal is to help you survive and thrive with diabetes – it can be done!

Diabetes Survival Guide

Diabetes Treatment Triangle

You’ve been told you have Type 2 Diabetes.  Your A1c is something higher that 6.5.  So, now what?  You have three basic tools to control Type 2 Diabetes: medication, exercise and diet.  Using all three, you can control and manage the disease.  But, what in the world is diabetes? Click on the link to find out.

(I have used survival guides most of my professional life.  A survival guide gives you just enough information to ‘get your work done’ if everything is normal and is a reference resource until you gain experience.  And, I probably should have written this a while back, but it just occurred to me that it might be needed.  Plus, it also helps that I have a number of the pieces in place to which to refer.  Could it be serendipity?)

Diabetes Survival Guide – Medication

Your doctor has told you that you will probably have to take some medication to lower your A1c.  No surprise.  The doctor wants to get your A1c down ASAP – think of it as getting the poison out of your system.  So, meds are a very normal route.  In fact, they might start you on metformin, one of the most widely prescribed drugs fo diabetics.

Dr. K has written about metformin, and you should read it to understand the drug and  how it works.

 Take your Meds as prescribed. Take a look at the navigation bar. See the Meds label? Click on it and then choose Diabetes. There you will find a list of the main drugs used to control Diabetes. Click on the one you are taking and you will find an unbiased explanation of the drug: how it works and possible side effects.  Every med post was written by our pharmacist, Katherine.

Diabetes Survival Guide

Simple A1C Chart

The first goal is to get your A1c down as soon as you can.  You can always stop taking meds if you see your numbers dropping  and talk with your doctor; there is no rule that states you have to take them forever.  This is a decision you should make after talking with your doctor.  So, take the medication as prescribed. Why would you ever give up one of your Diabetes Weapons?

For me, it was a no brainer.  I knew diabetes could cause serious damage and could lead to death.  Think I am kidding? Diabetes is the 7th Leading Cause of Death in the United States.  And, if that doesn’t catch your attention, there are a long list of complications that Diabetes causes.  I chose to take the meds to get myself back to ‘normal.’  Diabetes normal is not good enough for me.  Normal is normal is normal, even if it’s done with the aid of medication!

Diabetes Survival Guide – Exercise

You need to start to exercise.  Just starting to exercise? Read this.  There are so many things you can do to exercise – so many choices that you can find one that you will do – or do several of them during the week so you don’t get bored. The point: Just do it.

I started by just walking 30 minutes a day; it’s what my doctor told me to do. Want to know a little secret? I still walk 30 minutes a day, but a lot faster than I did at the beginning.  Why is exercise important? This video provides a great explanation:

It makes it easy to understand why we need exercise. Got it?  Good. You are exercising to make you more sensitive to the insulin you produce; so that it works for you. And you might be exercising to lose a little weight.  You will hear a lot about BMI – Body Mass Index. It’s a number created from the ration of your height to your weight. The Mayo Clinic has a tool to determine your BMI and offers a good basic explanation.

Diabetes Survival Guide – Glucose Testing

You are going to have to start glucose testing at least twice per day.  Keeping track of your glucose is important to gaining control.  Most of the instruction I have seen is either incomplete, or really cause pain.  For complete instructions on how to get a good reading without pain, read this.

Now, that you are testing your glucose, what does it all mean? The Joslin Diabetes Center has a simple to understand  article about glucose goals.  Remember, these are goals that you are working toward. They will not happen overnight. It’s a process of little steps that lead you to these goals. Just keep taking the steps; you can do it. The closer you get to the goals and stay there, the healthier you will be. And, you will be winning your War On Diabetes!

Diabetes Survival Guide – Diet

And, you are going to examine your diet. Chances are it will change.  Mine did – a lot.  I started a lower carb diet and over the course of nine months I lost about 60 pounds between diet and exercise.  Diet is so very, very important as you work to control diabetes. Just about everything you eat has carbohydrates in it; carbs turn into glucose, which is what you want to lower, right? Fewer carbs consumed means less glucose in your blood which makes it easier to control Diabetes.

Pretty simple, huh?

And, to bring it all together, I have strongly recommended a food diary.  Keeping one was so helpful in the beginning as I was lowering my A1c – it told me what I could and could not eat if I paid attention to my meter readings.  The food diary continues to be a tool for success and something I go back to when I see my numbers creeping up.  You can read about it here and then download it by following the instructions in the post.

Just so you know, I started my War On Diabetes with an A1c of 13 – that’s pretty high.  My most recent test gave me a 6.1. Blood pressure 114/80.  Weight seven pounds up over a year’s time, which I am losing – I got a bit cocky when I had a test result of 5.9!  I lose the weight, keep up with my diet and meds, and I should be at about a 5.8 or lower when tested again.  I mention all of that just so you know I have first hand knowledge of what you are facing – and know you can be successful! You can win your War On Diabetes.

As always, thank you for reading.

1 Comment on “Diabetes Survival Guide

Tell Us About Your War On Diabetes