In the U.S. alone, nearly two million people are diagnosed with diabetes each year. (1) What should you, or someone you know or love, do if you are one of those people?
Call or talk to your doctor-If the diagnosis was not made by your doctor call your doctor immediately and tell him/her what happened. Even if your doctor diagnoses you, ask if you should go for lab work ASAP for a repeat confirmation of the diagnosis.
1. Ask your doctor if hospitalization is needed. Many times with diabetes, it can be handled in the outpatient setting but if a person is very ill, they may need to be hospitalized. This is true especially with type 1 diabetes.
2. Find out what skills you will need immediately from your physician.
a. People who need insulin or another injectable medication for diabetes, need to be trained on injection techniques and when to take their medication, meter skills, when to call for help when blood glucose is out of range, have a simple meal plan to get started and steps to take when exercising. Ask if you need any other “survival skills.”
b. If a person needs oral medications ask when and if there is anything special about taking the medications. Timing is very important and with or without food should be discussed. Ask what survival skills you need. Can you have a simple meal plan to get started? Do you need to test your blood glucose (sugar) immediately? Discuss what you should do for exercise. Ask what else you need right away.
c. If no medications are needed, ask what steps you should take immediately.
3. Call your insurance to see what they will cover. Ask if they have any special programs for people with diabetes. Ask if your plan has preferred brands of diabetes supplies. Insurance companies may give a big cost break to certain kinds of blood glucose meters and other equipment. Your insurance plan may also have a list of preferred providers of people to consider for your diabetes team.
4. Make appointments with Key people who will be on your diabetes team
5. First ask your doctor what type of diabetes providers should be part of your team. Not all disciplines listed below are needed by everyone.
Primary Care Doctor – For a child this is their pediatrician and for an adult it is usually an internist. Ask your doctor if there is a need to see an endocrinologist who specializes in hormones like insulin. All people with diabetes have either a total or partial inability to make insulin, or the insulin they make may not be able to get inside the cells for use. It may also be possible the insulin the body makes is not 100% effective. People with type 1 diabetes are not able to produce insulin and are more likely to need the expertise of an endocrinologist.
Podiatrist (foot doctor) – People with diabetes are prone to have special problems with their feet. Nerve damage and inadequate circulation to the feet is common in people with diabetes. Inadequate foot care results in avoidable, painful and debilitating issues with some people with diabetes. A podiatrist will inspect and treat foot problems, advise on footwear and help a person with tasks such as toenail trimming.
Dentist – Diabetes can take a toll on your teeth. Make sure you have a dentist as part of your team and make sure he/she is aware that you have diabetes.
Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator – A dietitian will help with an individualized meal plan for people with diabetes and help with all nutrition issues. She/he will review medications ordered and advise patients on the nutritional aspects of keeping blood glucose in control. This may include carbohydrate counting, using exchange lists or other techniques to help control blood glucose.
Pump Trainer – If an insulin pump is needed to help control blood glucose values, a pump trainer is needed. Call your insurance to see what pump/s are covered and talk to your doctor and certified diabetes educator about possibilities and how to locate the trainer.
Nurse/Certified Diabetes Educator – She/he has the skills to teach you many aspects about your diabetes including injection starts, blood glucose meter training, and safety issues including what to do with high and low blood glucose levels, treating emergencies and what to do when you are ill.
Ophthalmologist – Taking special care of one’s vision is needed by people with diabetes. Diabetes may cause many types of vision problems. For more information on vision and diabetes read my past blog on vision and diabetes.
Mental Health Counselor – Sometimes when a person is told they have diabetes it is mentally overwhelming. Make sure you tell your physician and get a referral.
Pharmacist -Your pharmacist should always be part of your team! They can advise you about all aspects of your medications and make sure there aren’t medications that shouldn’t be taken together. You should have all medications on file in one pharmacy so your pharmacist has complete information on your medication profile.
Physical Therapist (PT) – If needed, a physical therapist can be ordered by your physician to design a personalized exercise plan to meet specialized needs. If you have any physical limitations he/she can work to make sure you know how to properly exercise to get maximum benefits without hurting yourself.
Occupational Therapist (OT) – Occupational therapists help people to adapt to the tasks they need to complete after a stroke, an injury or if they have a disability. A doctor’s order is usually needed by the physician. I am amazed at the progress many of my former patients have made in learning how to test their own blood glucose and give themselves insulin, even after having a stroke with the help of an OT.
The doctor may give a person with diabetes a referral to a recognized diabetes education program. These programs teach people with diabetes learn about many aspects of their diabetes.
After reading this list of 5 steps to take when you find out you have diabetes and all of the people to consider for your diabetes team, please realize that you are in control of your diabetes. Establish your team and seek the help you need to keep your diabetes in control. Do not let your diabetes control you! Do know that we at DiabetesCare.net are here to care and help you by providing excellent information for you to use. Visit our Newly Diagnosed section for more information on newly diagnosed diabetes.