November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is a disease full of challenges. Every day presents decisions that need to be made and sometimes problems that need to be solved. What should I eat for breakfast? How many carbohydrates are in that bowl of soup? How will that banana affect my blood sugar? Did I take my insulin this morning? My blood sugar is higher than normal, what do I do? I’m worried about my risk of heart disease and stroke because my A1c has been higher than my doctor likes, how can I decrease my chance of complications? How am I going to pay for my insulin this month?
Many days, all of this may seem overwhelming. Diabetes is a disease that can cause stress in your life, but having a diabetes educator on your team can help ease many of these common worries.
A diabetes educator can help you develop a plan to stay healthy and give you the tools you need to navigate the various curveballs that diabetes can throw at you. One thing is sure—the more support you have, the more successful you can be. It is often said, it takes a village to raise a child. This is also true for diabetes; it takes a village to control diabetes. That village, or healthcare team, consists of your physician, your physician’s nurses, a nurse diabetes educator, dietician, and pharmacist just to name a few. It’s likely when you have diabetes, you are taking medications, so you are likely to see your physician and his or her nurses on a regular basis to get labs completed and your necessary medications ordered. You are likely to run into your pharmacist when you pick up those medications.
But what about your diabetes educators? When is it a good time to see your nurse diabetes educator and dietician? Do you have to wait until your blood sugars are out of control? The answer is no. Diabetes education should be a part of your yearly, or more often if needed, routine. The best time for diabetes education is:
1) When you’re first diagnosed with diabetes.
2) Annually to review your treatment plan and make improvements as needed.
3) Whenever complications arise such as vision changes, cardiac disease or stroke, kidney disease, neuropathy, persistent infections or wounds that are not healing as they should.
4) During changes in your healthcare treatment, such as medication changes or major life events that affect how you manage diabetes – physically, socially, mentally or financially. Whatever problem is causing your blood sugars to be too low or too high, your diabetes educators can help you design a specific plan that will work for you and your life.