How to Handle a Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes

Nobody wants to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but for more and more Americans it is becoming a fact of life. A whopping 29.1 million adults in this country have the disease, which, even with the required careful management, can still lead to complications. If blood work from a recent doctor's visit reveals that youíve developed type 2 diabetes, here are some things you can do to deal with this new reality:

#1: Accept Your Feelings

Whether youíve been aware of your glucose (sugar) levels rising over time or are quite surprised by this turn of events, itís okay to be upset by the news. Know that while you canít reverse the disease, you do have some control over how it progresses.

#2: See a Diabetes Educator

Time-pressed doctors are not always your best source of information about day-to-day diabetes management. "Thereís a lot to diabetes, and seeing a diabetes educator will help," says certified diabetes educator (CDE) Dawn Sherr, MS, RD, associate director of practice management at the American Association of Diabetes Educators in Chicago. A CDE will help you:

  • Understand the best types of foods for you.
  • Plan shopping trips and meals.
  • Figure out what type of blood glucose monitoring tool you should have and show you how to use it.
  • And explain why and how to take your medications, as well as how much you should take.

A certified diabetes educator can also help you deal with any related challenges. Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover visits with a diabetes educator.

#3: Make Taking Care of Yourself a Priority

This absolutely is not the time to give up on your health. You can start with trying to lose weight, which often helps to slow the progress of the disease. Sherr acknowledges that changing ingrained eating habits and carving out more time for exercise is tough for many people. Nevertheless, the more positive lifestyle changes you can make now, the better your health will be in the long run.

#4: Decide Who to Tell

Unlike some other diseases, diabetes isnít necessarily obvious to other people. If you spend a lot of time with coworkers and are used to eating meals with them, you may choose to share the news so they understand why youíre suddenly turning down sugary desserts or are popping a pill at the lunch table. Or you may prefer to share the news only with your closest family and friends. If you have a partner, he or she will hopefully be instrumental in helping you manage the condition by cooking healthful meals and encouraging you to get up off the couch.

#5: Join a Support Group

Whether you join an in-person meeting group or become part of an online community, having other people available to cheer you on and offer first-person advice can be an invaluable tool as you move forward. "Itís another avenue for someone [to cope]," Sherr says.

Dawn Sherr, MS, RD, CDE reviewed this article.

Sources

Sherr, Dawn, MS, RD, CDE. Phone conversation with source on December 30, 2015.

"Been Referred. Whatís Next?" American Association of Diabetes Educators. 2016.