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Newly Diagnosed

Newly diagnosed diabetes

A diabetes diagnosis can be a scary thing, but with the right resources, it’s very possible to live a happy, healthy, long life.

A diabetes diagnosis can be a scary thing, both for the person who’s diagnosed and for that person’s loved ones as well. However, thanks to amazing healthcare professionals, new therapies and technologies, and a multitude of resources, managing diabetes and living a long, healthy, and happy life is absolutely possible. Whether you were just diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, prediabetes, or a less common type of diabetes, or whether your child, partner, friend, or family member was just diagnosed, we have resources to help you navigate the journey.

Diabetes is a long-term health condition that happens when your body cannot regulate your blood sugar levels. The main goal of diabetes management is to balance medication doses, food, and activity to keep your blood sugar levels in your target range for as much of the time as possible. While it can feel like there is a to learn, it’s important to know that you are not alone – there is an entire community of people with diabetes around the world, and we’ll be here to support you.

Newly Diagnosed? Some Tips for Where to Start

Find the right healthcare team

Not all healthcare professionals are necessarily familiar with the intricacies and complexities of diabetes. Finding a team that understands your type of diabetes and engages your health in the way you want is really important. It may take you a little while to work out what that relationship will look like: some people with diabetes want to set the agenda and direct their appointments, bringing in lists of questions (about treatment options, eating plans, choices in technology, etc.) and options to discuss with their healthcare team; others prefer to follow the advice and management plans given to them. Again, there’s no right way to engage with your HCP, but it is important to make sure that the person you see to help you with your diabetes understands what you need and how you need to receive that care.

Remember that you are more than numbers

At the beginning, it’s possible that you will see and hear a lot about numbers. Your glucose levels, your weight, your carbohydrate intake, your A1C, and your time in range may all be measured – you may also have doses of medication to remember daily. It can become overwhelming to have to record and understand so much information.

But diabetes is not about numbers – it is about much more than that! Numbers are not ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They are simply data points for you to see, understand, and act upon. They are a way for you to track how certain things affect your diabetes management. If we think about monitoring our glucose levels and then acting on what we see (rather than judging the numbers as a measure of “good” or “bad”), they suddenly become far less daunting.

Find your tribe

There is a whole wide world of diabetes peer support available to you – that is, communities and networks of other people affected by diabetes who support each other to live day-to-day with diabetes.

There are many different options for how you can connect with other people living with diabetes. Some of the diabetes community is online and some is face-to-face, depending on the community in which you live. This is important because not everyone has the same needs for the community or wants to connect the same way. It can take time to find your place of comfort in the diabetes community. In the age of COVID-19, many groups that were “in person” have now gone online and are easier for broader groups to reach.

We wish that when people were first diagnosed with diabetes, one of the first points HCPs raised was how to connect with others walking similar diabetes paths – or even connecting with those who walk different paths. We know from our own experiences that finding our tribe is one of the most important aspects to managing our diabetes well.

Talk it out

At diagnosis, you may be introduced to some healthcare professionals that are new to you. It’s possible you will meet with a dietitian or a diabetes care and education specialist. You will probably be told about needing to have your eyes and feet checked, and about the healthcare professionals who will do those checks. Diabetes care often requires a team of HCPs, each focusing on his or her area of expertise.

Frequently missing from that team, however, is someone to focus on the psychological side of living with diabetes and coping with a new diagnosis. Diabetes is never only about blood sugar or complications. It’s never only about the numbers. However, too often that is the focus that we are given, without anyone to talk about how our diabetes is affecting our emotional wellbeing and mental health. You may consider seeing a psychologist or a counsellor to assist with this aspect of your diabetes care.

Your diabetes, your rules

As we have already said, everyone’s diabetes is different. It will take you some time to learn how you want to live with diabetes, and how you best manage it. Unfortunately, there is no rule book that sets out all the things you need to do and the way you need to do them. It would make things so much easier if that were the case, but in reality, diabetes really doesn’t follow many rules at all.

Adam Brown's Bright Spots and Landmines

Despite the uncertainty and lack of rules in diabetes, there is one book that I’ve found amazingly helpful for people with diabetes (whether or not they are newly diagnosed). Diabetes advocate and long-time diaTribe writer Adam Brown wrote Bright Spots and Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me.

When the book launched, I reviewed it and wrote “I honestly wish that the day I’d been diagnosed with diabetes I’d been handed this book. I wish I’d had it on my shelf all these years as a resource to refer back to in moments of burnout or no motivation, or when I needed a little push to encourage me.”

Bright Spots offers practical advice on how different aspects of our diabetes care can positively and negatively impact our health outcomes. Adam’s tips are sensible and wise, and easy to adapt to your own brand of diabetes. There are over 500 five-star reviews for Bright Spots and Landmines on Amazon – you can get it free here or listen to it free on diaTribe’s YouTube channel.