Today’s guest post is from award-winning author and diabetes expert, Wil Dubois. Will is the author of Taming the Tiger: Your first year with diabetes, a first year survival guide, a recognized expert on the subject of diabetes, and a frequent contributor to the dLife website.
As the chef in charge of our Haute & Healthy Diabetic-Friendly meal plan, here at hautemealz.com, this post is especially important to me. I wish it had been around 15 years ago!
If you, or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, please read and share this important information!
This article was originally posted at dLife.com and is shared with permission of both the author and publisher.
A Letter to the Newly Diagnosed
What you need to know when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
By Wil Dubois
Welcome to the family! What? I’m the first to say that to you? Well, now that you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you’re part of a HUGE family, and more people than you can imagine are facing the exact same challenges you are. In fact, more than 5,000 Americans were diagnosed with diabetes on the very same day you were. And the same thing is happening today. And 5,000 more will join us tomorrow.
Did you know that being given a diagnosis of diabetes delivers the same level of shock to your system as having a heart attack? Yeah it’s a BIG deal. Everything just changed. You’ve now got a disease that never goes away, requires a lot of attention, and gets worse on its own no matter how hard you try.
It’s OK to be a little bummed.
There’s a lot you need to learn, but you don’t need to learn it all today. That said, your diabetes education needs to start somewhere. There are a ton of books about diabetes out there, and most try to tell you everything you ever need to know. The authors mean well, but they probably don’t have diabetes themselves. They don’t understand that all you really want to do is just pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed. Forever.
Actually, there are only a few things your need to know right now. And the first is: Your diagnosis is not a death sentence. It’s a life sentence, in every sense of the word. Well, in every good sense of the word, anyway. It’s with you forever, but I promise you that you’ll be healthier because of it.
It’s not the end of the world
Yes, you’ve got diabetes. But your diagnosis for type 2 diabetes isn’t the end of the world. You’re not disabled, merely inconvenienced. Actually, you’re lucky. This is a great time in history to have diabetes! No, really. We have great tools, great medications, and a great understanding of how to keep diabetes in check, how to keep it from harming you.
I know you might not feel too hot right now. On top of the shock of being diagnosed, your body hasn’t been at its best for a while. Diabetes, at least the most common kind, tends to creep up on its victims over a period of many years. The high blood sugar caused by diabetes makes you feel like crap, but you probably don’t even know it yet because the changes happened so slowly, a little bit at a time. It was so gradual you chalked up your symptoms to getting older, being busier than usual, or being stressed out. Diabetes typically doesn’t get diagnosed until after you’ve been feeling terrible for a while.
The good news is that you’re going to feel ten years younger in a matter of months. Your energy is about to start going up, up, up. You won’t be so thirsty. Instead of getting up four times a night to pee, you’ll sleep through the night. Your love life will…ummmm…improve. Your vision will get sharp. You won’t be so crabby — you might not notice that one, but your loved ones sure will.
Bottom line: from this very day forward, it all gets better.
Let me ask you: Can you have a pet tiger? Sure you can. So long as you feed it well, groom it, and never turn your back on it, you can co-exist with a tiger in your living room. But if you neglect the tiger, starve it, turn your back on it, the tiger will pounce on you and tear you to shreds. Diabetes is the tiger. Feed it right. Take care of it right. And the two of you will live just fine together.
But if you let diabetes run wild it can and will kill you. But I promise you, it’s possible to live for a very long time with diabetes. Now, you may know people who died or are dying from diabetes. Some may be in your own family. But that is not going to happen to you. Things are different now. You can grow old, healthy and happy — with the tiger at your side.
You know what? If you take care of your diabetes you will actually be much healthier than the average American who doesn’t have diabetes. So it’s a gift of sorts. Diabetes is the carrot and the stick. The threat and the reward. Diabetes — the tiger — will eat you alive if you don’t do the few basic things you need to do to feed it. But if you take care of it, it will, in a sense, take care of you, too.
What do I need to do?
Let me tell you why I love having diabetes. Yes, I said I love having diabetes, and I’m not crazy. I am healthier with diabetes than I was without it. I think more about my body, what I put into it, what I ask it to do, than I did before. I am more keenly aware of my mortality, and yet will probably live a longer and sweeter life than I would have had diabetes not joined my team.
But that’s just the sugar-free icing on the cake. What I love most about diabetes is that it is what the medical world calls a “self-managed disease.” Yep. I’m in charge. Little ol’ me. Not my doctor. Not some specialist. I get to be in the driver’s seat.
With most illnesses the medical folks are in charge from start to finish and you are just along for the ride. Usually in the back seat. Here, take this pill. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Avoid stress. Yeah. I’ll get right on that.
With diabetes you drive and your doctor is the tour guide. And the best part is that it’s an easy drive. Make tiny changes in your eating and activity, and you change your health destiny. And the fact that you are here today, reading more about your diabetes, tells me you’re off to a great start. You’ve just signed up for Tiger-tamer lessons. And you’re going to do an awesome job.
Excerpted from Taming the Tiger: Your first year with diabetes, a first year survival guide by Wil Dubois, Red Blood Cell Books, © 2009. ISBN 978-0-9822257-1-4.
Wil Dubois is the author of four multi-award-winning books about diabetes. He is a PWD type 1, and is the diabetes coordinator for a rural non-profit clinic. Visit his blog, LifeAfterDX.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.