Life after your Diabetes diagnosis: the one week milestone.
Well done! You’ve made it through week one of living with Diabetes.
Well done! You’ve made it through your first week since being faced with your life-changing Diabetes diagnosis. It’s okay if your mind and emotions are still racing around at this point. You can always browse our Diabetes website to learn more.
How are you feeling?
Adjusting to any medication is a big ask of your body. It doesn’t matter what form you take, or what strength. Your body’s cells are experiencing chemical reactions at a scale and intensity like never before, when you begin chronic treatment.
If you notice any side effects, document these and speak to your doctor, nurse or clinic sister if these don’t subside. Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently, so you need to get medical advice on whether to wait it out or if you need your dose adjusted. Usually, the more physically active you are, the less noticeable the side effects, if any should even occur.
Treating Diabetes step by step
Your initial Diabetes treatment plan and dosage depends on the severity of your symptoms and your blood glucose levels. You might receive stronger medication up front, to bring your body back into a balanced state, before your dosage can be regulated. Treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s useful learning more about how it works.
Diabetes treatment depends on:
- The type of Diabetes you have been diagnosed with.
- Your general health, wellbeing, and lifestyle.
- Your age.
For Type 1 Diabetes, you will likely be treated with tablets or injections, along with following a specific dietary plan. For Type 2 Diabetes, your doctor or clinic sister may advise you on your lifestyle choices, including diet, exercise, and drinking or smoking habits. Medication may also be prescribed for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.
Regardless of the medication being prescribed, these are important points to keep in mind at all times:
- Follow your dietary plan closely.
- Take your medication as and when prescribed.
- Update your doctor or clinic sister about your progress.
- Attend every medical appointment and checkup.
Remember: your treatment programme for Diabetes is defined by your individual circumstances. If you have any questions, always ask your doctors, nurses or clinic sisters. You can also request that information be provided to you in any of our official languages, if you prefer.
Noticing any side effects?
Although Diabetes presents a range of symptoms, not every Diabetic goes through the same experience. You may know someone else who is Diabetic, and you wouldn’t be wrong to speak to him/her and ask about his/her journey. Whatever you do, though, try not to compare your symptoms against anyone else’s. Your body is unique, so rather ask your doctor, nurse or clinic sister if you have questions or doubts.
At this point, it’s normal to feel more tired than usual, and to experience dizziness or light-headedness. You could find that you urinate more frequently or lose sensation in your extremities. These symptoms are all associated with Diabetes. Once you’re on treatment, it takes up to several weeks for these to subside.
Bruises and wounds also take longer to heal for Diabetics. Make sure that if you do get hurt or cut, you clean and dress your wounds effectively to speed up the healing process.
Start eating your way to better health
Diet and nutrition have been an in-depth topic throughout a number of our articles, which you can find by clicking here. It’s not easy to make an overnight change. This goes especially if most of your life until now has featured lots of rice, pasta, bread, takeouts and sugary or deep fried treats.
Saturated fats and additives all contribute, bit by bit, toward your health challenges. The best thing you can do at this one week milestone is a nutritional audit of your life. If you have access to a dietician who can assist you with this, and with setting some goals, that’s great. If you can’t do this, that’s no problem. We’re here to guide you with a basic approach to eating for your health.
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Your nutrition audit
Start by keeping a food journal. Whether you do this on your phone or in a pocket journal, it helps you identify patterns in your nutritional choices. Many people start but don’t maintain this process because it’s uncomfortable confronting our own poor decisions. This is what makes the process even more important to live a healthier life, going forward.
Before you judge yourself or criticise your actions, you need all the information available. When you write down your food choices, add some context. This way, you can pre-empt poor choices and prevent these entirely. Ask yourself important questions at the end of each day and add the answers to your notes:
- Were you in a rush when you chose this food or snack?
- How did your budget at the time affect your choice?
- Think about those moments when you just crave a favourite snack or meal. (This can also be triggered by emotional stress, so it’s beneficial to pick up on this and treat both the physical nutritional choice and the emotional driver behind it.)
- Were you eating alone, with friends or with family?
- Was it a special occasion like a birthday or festival?
- Were you eating at home or in public, and does that influence your choice?
The next checkpoint
Begin your food journal and try to sustain the habit at least until the one month mark. If you’d like more information about Diabetes you can always browse our website. We’ll chat more at the one month milestone, about your nutritional audit. You’ll learn how to interpret results, and gradually regain control of your life through consistent small changes.
KwaZulu Natal Department of Health. 2001. Diabetes. Available online at: http://www.kznhealth.gov.za/diabetes1.htm [Accessed 15 october 2019].
Nall, R. 2018. An overview of diabetes types and treatments. Medical News Today. 8 November. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323627.php [Accessed 15 october 2019].
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. n.d. What is Diabetes?. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes [Accessed 15 October 2019].
We all have questions.
Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.
Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.
What is the normal HbA1C level?
It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:
- 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range.
- < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8%
- Poor Diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?
Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes occurs in pregnant mothers.
What are the first signs of Diabetes?
- Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
- Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
- Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
- Blurred vision.
- Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?
Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, when you are a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.
Can I test myself for Diabetes?
Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm your diagnosis as Diabetic. A series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.
It’s been one month since you were diagnosed as Diabetic
Your side effects should be steadily subsiding, and your food journal should be ready for your review.
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