You’ve been living with Diabetes for two months.

Two months ago your doctor, nurse or clinic sister shared details of your health which might have come as quite the surprise.

You’ve been living with Diabetes for two months.

How does it feel to reach the milestone of two months, with your Diabetes diagnosis?

Two months ago your doctor, nurse or clinic sister shared details of your health which might have come as quite the surprise. It may be odd to process that already two whole months have gone by since your Diabetes diagnosis. It’s something that changes the way you see yourself, and the choices you make in life.

Whether it’s been a rocky road or smooth sailing, you’re not alone on this journey. There are many support systems in place for people like you, striving for a long and happy life despite having Diabetes. Two of these support systems, as you know by now, is our AllLife Diabetes website and one-year support journey.

Remember that knowledge is power. For two full months now, you’ve been empowered by the knowledge of your health status. You’ve developed an awareness of how your lifestyle and medical decisions impact your body, your thoughts and feelings. There may even be a noticeable impact on your sense of spirituality and your relationships with others. Well done on braving each day and arriving at the point where we can figure out how to talk about your Diabetes, if you’re ready.

Diabetes is your reality now.

Accepting this diagnosis required, and still requires, immense strength and fortitude. Now, at the two-month milestone, it should be sinking in that you’re in fact fully capable of living with Diabetes. Your emotions may have initially been quite volatile. If you have practiced shifting your focus onto learning, and away from panic, you’ve discovered that you can regain control.

When we last engaged, it was at your one month milestone. We discussed a food journal, and how to use one to help you make better choices of food and drink. Have you kept that going or did it fall away at some point? It’s ok if you haven’t been consistent. People need reminding for remembering, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Use your phone’s reminder feature or use this opportunity to ask your partner to assist you in managing your food journal. See this as the opportunity to get back on track with the food journal if the experiment worked for you.

We also encouraged that you see this journey with Diabetes as a way to learn more about yourself, and your habits. Some decisions are made at a subconscious level, without you being aware of their origins. It needs time so, even now at two months in, be patient and kind to yourself as you continue to learn. If you’re new to our AllLife Year One Diabetes Support Journey, you can click here to back-track and start from the beginning.

What’s your relationship like, with your medication?

Your diagnosis undoubtedly changed a number of things in your life. One of these is the routine you follow, which now probably includes insulin injections, or tablets and/or capsules. Your body has been adjusting to your medication for two months now. If you’re still experiencing side effects, we strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor, nurse or clinic team.

How are you finding it now with this new routine? Do you remember to take your medication in the right dosage at the right times? Share any slip-ups with your medical team, to receive assistance with staying on track and controlling your sugar levels.

It’s okay to talk about being Diabetic. You’re two months in and doing great.

In these recent two months, you’ve faced a number of challenges. Your mental and emotional journey, as you process the fact that you’re now Diabetic, may lead you in all directions. With that, comes the challenge of talking about your condition.

It’s okay if you haven’t told anybody yet. Hopefully you don’t have to hide your medication or sneak into the bathroom to use it every day. Being Diabetic is not doom and gloom. The more your loved ones know about it, the better your chances are of living a long, happy and healthy life. The most important thing is to monitor your blood sugar levels and stay disciplined when it comes to your treatment plan. We’re here to support you in navigating all the challenges ahead.

Who needs to know?

First and foremost: you have the right to your privacy. If you don’t want to talk to anybody about being Diabetic, then you don’t need to. Your state of health is your responsibility and, as an independent adult, you have the choice of who you discuss it with, if at all.

If you want to talk about it, either to vent your emotions or seek support, we recommend referring to the ‘6 Ws’:

  • Who really needs to know about this?
  • What is it that you need to say or that the other person/people need to hear?
  • What are your expectations of reactions and/or acceptance from those people?
  • When is the best time to have this conversation?
  • Where is the most appropriate place to talk?
  • Why are you giving this person or these people this information about you?

As you work your way through these points, you might find that your approach evolves. Once you tell someone, there’s no taking it back. If you sense that someone might judge or interrogate you, think about these points carefully. Prepare yourself according to who you’re speaking to, and when, or where. With someone you know really well, you can likely pre-empt his/her response. This allows you to ready potential questions and answers to allay his/her concerns about your health.

Put yourself first.

Being diagnosed as Diabetic may continually change the way you see yourself. Experiencing self-critical thoughts after being diagnosed is considered completely normal. While you endure this, remember that we’re here to support you through every step of the way.

If you become depressed or anxious, especially if previously diagnosed with similar disorders, it’s worth building mental support structures. You need to remind yourself that Diabetes is something you can take control of. Speak with your doctor, nurse or clinic team about your concerns, especially regarding recurring physical or emotional symptoms. It takes courage to reach out and lean on other people. Until you’re ready to do so, you can always find more information on our Diabetes website.

Use a tactful approach to your relationships with others.

Vulnerability naturally comes with the process of sharing intimate details about yourself. Your health status is personal and private. When entrusting this knowledge to someone, be sure that it’s what is best for you and for the relationship between you both. That being said, we understand that some relationships are more complicated than others. This is why we encourage that you prioritise your own mental and emotional peace.

Your doctor, nurse or clinic can refer you to a suitable psychologist or counsellor to help you manage and navigate relationships. Always consult your medical practitioners if you have questions or concerns.

Sharing your first two months into your Diabetes journey with your partner…

Diabetes is not a sexually transmitted infection. It’s not something that will be passed on to your partner. It’s an acquired condition, or triggered by hereditary alleles in a person’s DNA. Sometimes, Diabetes results from a combination of predisposition and lifestyle choices. Your partner’s health is not at risk as a result of you being diagnosed with Diabetes.

Whether you are married, single or in a relationship, your Diabetes diagnosis is not fatal to either you or your partner. This is especially true when you actively make an effort to manage and control the condition. Respect is the best gift both you and your partner can give to each other. When you’re ready to talk about your medical situation, remember that respect and trust go hand in hand. It’s ok to feel nervous or vulnerable because Diabetes requires lifelong management effort. If you enter the conversation well-prepared, you can inform your partner and address his/her concerns immediately.

Consider these tips for your approach to discussing your Diabetes diagnosis with your spouse/partner:

Here are some tips to help you successfully share your health status as a Diabetic, with your partner:

  • Use simple language.
  • State facts, like the feedback from your doctor, nurse or clinic sister.
  • Prepare yourself with an understanding that your partner may go through similar emotions as you did on your first day of living with Diabetes.
  • Don’t apologise; being Diabetic isn’t a crime or sin.
  • You’re not alone, so when you talk to your partner, mention the resources and guides you have found to help work through the journey.
  • Talk about the future. How will it affect your relationship, and your goals as a couple? Discuss workout options you can do together, and meal-prep as a team.

Legally, you’re not obliged to tell your partner about changes in your health status. As far as relationship ethics go, however, you may want to strongly consider it. In emergency situations, it could save your life. He/She, if aware and educated, is better equipped to call appropriate first responders or personally fill that role in an emergency situation. Also consider it from this angle: how would you feel if the roles were reversed? Wouldn’t you want to know about your partner’s health status? What about the opportunity to show your support?

Managing friendships and extended family with Diabetes.

Recognising yourself as a Diabetic person is a fairly new concept, even here at two months into the journey. You’re under no obligation to talk about your health condition with anyone, let alone extended family and social circles. Keep in mind that if you’ve had your dosage or brand of medication changed at any point, your body is also restarting that process of re-adjustment.

If you rely on support groups or other resources like our website, you may feel confident enough to discuss your health status. Your support group facilitator or medical counsellor is a good mentor for navigating the process of disclosing your new health status.

As you begin disclosing details, and the impact on your social and family lifestyle, remember that Diabetes doesn’t change who you are. Your friends and family can be just the right strength and support to help you live a long and happy life. Prepare for every conversation with knowledge, news and reassuring updates on how you have approached your treatment. You can also bookmark and share information with your loved ones, like this article, as an example of your effort to find support. Be open about your  active commitment to taking control of your health. Talk about news, treatment developments and share anything you feel important to reassure them.

Understand more about Diabetes and how to live a happy, healthy life as a Diabetic.

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Hints and tips for discussing your Diabetes with friends and family:

Similarly to when you shared this information with your partner, respect needs to play a major role in the conversation. These are some tips specifically for speaking with friends and family about being Diabetic:

  • Your right to privacy is not negotiable as an adult. You have full control over what you say, and to whom. You are able to instruct/request that your affairs are not discussed outside of any particular conversation you choose to have.
  • Always go prepared.
  • Keep your language and explanations simple.
  • Educate yourself about Diabetes a little more before each conversation you have. It will help allay concerns from both your perspective and whoever it is that you are talking to.
  • Consider sharing details of your treatment plan, as appropriate for whoever you are talking to. It also helps to allay fears when it’s clear that corrective action or management is underway.
  • You have the right to feel the emotions you feel, and to be clear about it. If you’re feeling nervous, anxious or concerned about being judged, it’s best to say it straight out.
  • Be willing to listen to how the other person or people in the conversation feel. It is most likely going to be a sense of anxiety, fear or shock, and genuine concern for your health. Consider that through whatever responses you are met with.
  • Don’t be afraid to be direct about the type or form of support you’re looking for, and the reason for telling him/her/them. If a specific suggestion, action or comment hurts your feelings then you’re encouraged to make that known.

Be aware of your anxiety levels.

If the anxiety is too much to bear, take a step back from the situation and remember that you’re not obliged to actually tell anyone about your health condition. If you’re taking insulin regularly, or pills, it will become challenging to maintain discretion over time. Consider all angles and place your own inner peace first on your priority list. If you need help working through anything, speak to your doctor, nurse or clinic team about seeing a counsellor or psychologist.

How do you tell your boss that you’ve been adjusting to Diabetes for two months?

It’s quite simple. The law protects you, and you’re under no obligation to disclose your diagnosis. If you foresee that your symptoms, side effects or secondary conditions may impact your performance at work,  speak to your doctor, nurse or clinic team. Request advice regarding sick leave and/or medical boarding (in severe cases). Because some Diabetes treatment plans require intense treatment upfront, it’s worth talking to your HR department about it. Disclosing your health condition, in most cases, will help your colleagues extend empathy toward what you’re facing.

Guidelines for disclosing your Diabetes diagnosis at work:

If you’re concerned that you might be judged or victimised, approach the situation cautiously and remember the guidelines:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Mention diagnosis as the challenge, and treatment as the solution.
  • Be willing to answer questions but ask for time to revert if you genuinely don’t have an answer. Eg. How many days off would you need to adjust to treatment? Are you able to work remotely?
  • Be honest. Your condition won’t disappear if you take on more work to try appeasing anyone, and may place excessive strain on you if you continue this trend over time.

Depending on your job, it may also be important for your colleagues to know about your condition. As an example, if you’re an Estate Agent, you’re constantly heading out with clients to view properties. Take a partner agent with you, when possible, in the event that you forget your insulin dosage and need help accessing it in time. Discuss your job and the challenges you might have, in keeping to your treatment plan, with your doctor, nurse or clinic sister. Make notes so you don’t forget their suggestions for handling work and Diabetes together.

Living with Diabetes requires the right frame of mind.

Our team at AllLife have made every effort to research and understand all aspects of being confronted by Diabetes. The journey, particularly in your first year of living with and knowing about your condition, will naturally present highs and lows like many other life experiences. We’re here to support you through every step of your first year, and even beyond that, as we share new research findings and discoveries that make even the smallest positive difference.

Our Diabetes resources are always here for you to make use of, whether you’re reading alone or sharing with your partner, friends, family, boss or colleagues. We want you to feel confident that you can live a long, healthy and happy life, even with Diabetes. We’re here to help you get back on track when it seems tough to manage. Moving into your third month of living with Diabetes will bring some of the challenges we’ve discussed today. Make your life easier by bookmarking this article if you need quick access to the tips for sharing your condition with the people in your life. You’re not alone in this.

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 can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.

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, as either 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 a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

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