If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact — not to be solved, but to be coped with over time. —Shimon Peres
When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness such as diabetes, you must face the fact that there is no cure. Despite the millions of dollars spent in research to better understand diabetes and the ongoing advances in treatment options for it, a person with diabetes has to realize that it will accompany him for the rest of his life.
Among chronic diseases, diabetes is unique in the amount of time and attention it requires of the person who has it to remain healthy. It is therefore no surprise that taking care of yourself may feel difficult or challenging at times. That’s why dealing with diabetes over the long term requires developing a range of coping skills and techniques, from learning to carry out the daily tasks of diabetes control, to finding ways to deal with the emotions that having diabetes and having to care for it are bound to bring up at times.
Much of what you do to keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels in the near-normal range is aimed at preventing long-term complications. But it’s also about feeling good today. Keeping your blood glucose level in your target range, in particular, can help you feel more energetic and alert, enabling you to participate in and enjoy the other parts of your life.
So how do you carry out the tasks of eating right, getting physical activity, monitoring your blood glucose level, and taking any prescribed medicines every day for the rest of your life without getting overwhelmed? Here are some tips:
Knowledge is power. All aspects of diabetes care require a certain amount of knowledge: Meal planning requires some knowledge of nutrition; being physically active requires knowledge about what’s safe for you to do, how to do it, and what gear or equipment you need; monitoring your blood glucose level requires learning not only how to use your meter, but also how to respond to the readings you get; and taking medicine requires knowing how to take it, what doses (amounts) to take, and when to take them. Making the effort to acquire this knowledge will make your daily life easier, because you won’t have to stop and think about every step in your daily diabetes care routine as you do it.
The health-care professionals who help you manage your diabetes can provide a lot of the information you need. Meeting with a dietitian, for example, can help you learn how your food choices affect your health and how to plan healthy meals. A certified diabetes educator can help you learn about blood glucose monitoring, taking medicines, and much more. See “Your Diabetes Care Team” for more information about the types of knowledge the various members of your diabetes care team can help you gain.
In addition to talking with health-care professionals, reading up-to-date books, magazines, and Web pages can help to keep you informed in many areas of diabetes care.