We’re so glad you’ve found us. So, you’ve recently been diagnosed? You are not alone. Diabetes is hard. We’re here to make it a little easier to bear.
How did I get this?
What an excellent question! There are so many moving pieces to this question that it would be difficult (and impractical) to try to answer it fully. Common triggering factors may include genetics, illness, and lifestyle. What’s most important to know is that there are things you can do to manage this disease well, so that you can lead a full and unlimited life. There are over 415 million people living with Diabetes worldwide. An estimated 1 of 11 adults bears this diagnosis.
What kind of Diabetes do I have?
As you’ve probably learned by now, there are several different types of Diabetes. Most diagnoses fall into two broad categories: Type 1 and Type 2 – but not all cases of diabetes fit neatly into a definition. Other categories include LADA (an autoimmune form sometimes referred to as Type 1.5) and MODY. Type 1, LADA and MODY carry somewhat known genetic markers – researchers are now learning that there may also be some genetic markers for Type 2.
Diabetes is not perfectly understood as a disease – it may actually be several diseases. Unfortunately, this confusion over its different forms, even among qualified professionals, can result in frequent misdiagnoses. If this occurs to you, you may not receive the best treatment for your particular type of Diabetes.
It is important that you feel confident about your diagnosis. If you have been confirmed with Type 1 or LADA, you likely had a blood test that revealed the presence of autoimmune antibodies. A MODY diagnosis is also less likely to be erroneous.
Type 2, which constitutes the majority of diabetes cases, can be trickier to identify. It is often an automatic diagnosis for adult patients presenting themselves with elevated blood sugar–especially if the patient is older, overweight, or has recently delivered a baby following an unresolved case of gestational diabetes, or for specific ethnic groups.
Frequent protocol for this diagnosis is management through diet and exercise, along with oral medications, and, possibly, of some newer injectibles. If you are truly a Type 2, this protocol should bring your blood sugar down to an acceptable range. If these protocols do not yield the desired effect, you may want to ensure that your diagnosis is the appropriate one, even if you are older and overweight, and if Type 2 runs in your family: such misdiagnoses have happened numerous times. One way to confirm the impossibility of a Type 1 diagnosis is with a simple blood panel to rule out the presence of pancreatic antibodies.
My doctor tells me one thing about what my blood sugar goals, and my Diabetes Educator says another? What goal should I have?
Conflicting opinions can be one of the most frustrating difficulties in reining in the Diabetes beast. The best answer we have is that the more aggressive approach is usually better in terms of reducing complications for you further down the road. You will find that people tend to accept a range of blood sugar targets, and that is understandable. The end game is to live a full life without complication. And while we cannot guarantee that we will be spared complications in your diabetes journey, we can certainly make every effort to avoid them together by establishing helpful targets. That is where tight control can really serve you, but, as with anything, tight control is a practice that takes time and discipline (especially when it comes to diet and exercise).
How do I monitor my blood sugar?
A meter is an essential tool in monitoring one’s blood sugar. It is often underused. For the person seeking tight control over diabetes, several finger-sticks daily become a vital way to keep tabs on one’s ever-shifting blood sugar. Most commonly, people test when they wake up (fasting glucose) and 120 minutes after every meal (postprandial reading). Some also test prior to a meal, especially when trying to determine insulin doses.
A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is an additional support for monitoring blood sugar. CGMs are small, implantable sensors that measure a patient’s blood sugar through the interstitial fluid (rather than blood) as often as every 5 minutes. CGMs do not entirely replace the need for a monitor, since their accuracy can vary and they need to be calibrated against one’s monitor daily.
The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test: it is a simple blood test that measures a patient’s average blood glucose is over 3 months. The difficulty with this test is that it is not necessarily reflective of good control. If, for example, one’s A1c is 5.1, one might assume this patient has excellent control, but this test might not account for wild spikes and lows that would average out to a good measure. So, while an A1c of 5.1 might signify tight control, it might also reflect severely uncontrolled hypoglycemic episodes counterbalanced by hyperglycemia.
Why is there so much social stigma associated with this disease?
Social implications of this disease can be difficult to navigate. Because there is so much misinformation about it, people find that, after being diagnosed, they also become educators of their friends and loved ones too.
You’ve heard it all before, “If he hadn’t eaten the way he did, maybe he’d still have his toes!” Perhaps you’ve been the brunt of a diabetes joke or been in the company of one who’s borne that brunt. The truth is that, for most types of diabetes, lifestyle probably makes no difference, and these cruel jokes only show ignorance. Even for those types of diabetes where lifestyle is a factor, researchers are finding stronger genetic links every year.
There is no shame in this diagnosis – neither is there shame in learning how to manage it more effectively. This diagnosis is no joke, and neither are the potential complications associated with it. All too often we’re confronted with prejudice about our diagnosis. But the truth is that none of us is off the hook when it comes to better management. A little effort can go a long way in avoiding some of the serious complications. If you’re reading this far, it means you’re serious about wanting to manage your diabetes. Bravo! We’re here to help. Onward!
Why do I need an online support community?
We’re so glad you asked! We are not here to replace a qualified medical team: there is no replacement for a good doctor (or team of doctors), and we urge you to take the necessary steps to find a team you can trust in managing your diabetes. But you probably have already heard that speech from your doctor: “one day, you will be the best specialist for YOUR diabetes.” Each one of us has become primary care provider to our own disease. All of us are here because we have found that we can get relevant and fast input, understanding and support from our peers any time, any day – from people who live the life we live, 24 hours a day, day after day.
An online support system can be crucial to your care, and we encourage you to find the right place for you on the web, to offer camaraderie in this journey (if not here, then somewhere you can make yourself at home), and precious advice from those who have experienced what you experience many times before. You are not alone, and you don’t have to be alone. Many of our forum members were diagnosed without ever knowing another person with diabetes. We, here, have found that the expertise and fellowship of others living with diabetes can be invaluable in care management.
Will I ever be able to live a normal life?
This may be the best reason for you to spend time here at FUDiabetes. We are all here because we believe that life with Diabetes is unlimited – and we live it. Diabetes is a disease that must be fought every day – but it does not ever have to be a limit. Our members’ children with diabetes go to any camp, play any sport, and eat anything. Our members swim for hours per day, skipper large ships and run marathons. There is no limit to your life.
FUDiabetes is a community for unlimited diabetics.
Be sure to check out these additional links for more support:
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