Health-care visits. People with diabetes are generally advised to see the medical professional who provides most of their diabetes care two to four times a year. This might be a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner. These checkups are opportunities to assess a person’s general health, see how his diabetes care regimen is working, and head off any long-term problems by checking his blood pressure, feet, and sometimes cholesterol level and kidney function. It’s a good idea to prepare for these visits with a written list of your top concerns and questions. The information and care that you receive should help you focus on your personal diabetes health needs, determine if changes need to be made to better meet those needs, and also give you some feedback on how well your self-care efforts are paying off.
People with diabetes are also advised to have an annual eye exam and to have professional dental cleanings and exams regularly.
Meeting with a diabetes educator on a regular basis can be helpful for answering questions related to your diabetes care and for learning to problem-solve any issues that have come up.
Changing your regimen. Every year, new devices for diabetes care are developed, and periodically, new drugs are released. Would any of them improve your control or make managing your diabetes easier? Your doctor and diabetes educator can help you stay informed about new technology and medicines and advise you on whether any of them might be helpful for you. Looking for new options is particularly important if your current regimen is not keeping your blood glucose level in target range or you’re having trouble carrying it out. But even if this is not the case, you may be interested in trying something new if it promises less discomfort, more convenience, or better control.
Specialist care. You may also need to see one or more specialists if you develop problems that are beyond the scope of your primary-care provider’s practice. For example, you may need to see a cardiologist if you develop heart problems or a nephrologist if you develop kidney problems, and visits to these specialists may become a regular part of your care.
Developing diabetes complications or other serious health problems has emotional as well as physical effects. It’s important not to ignore those feelings, since they can have a negative effect on both your quality of life and your physical health. How you address them will depend on your personal preferences and resources, but it may include talking with a trusted friend or counselor or seeking out a mental health-care professional for therapy. One of the medical professionals who cares for your physical health may be able to recommend a therapist for you.
The emotional side
It’s not just being diagnosed with a complication that can stir up emotions. Being diagnosed with diabetes in the first place often brings up feelings of shock, fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness. And at any time along the way, diabetes may sometimes cause feelings of resentment, annoyance, anxiety, anger, etc. Such feelings may be triggered by having trouble keeping your blood glucose level in range. They may come up when diabetes or its care interferes with some other part of your life. Or they may be triggered by other people’s reactions to your diabetes — with unwanted advice, scary stories, or intrusive questions about your lifestyle choices.
While it’s impossible to totally get rid of negative feelings, it is possible to change how they affect you. And it may be possible to change your lifestyle or environment so that you experience negative emotions less frequently. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
Put yourself first. You may spend a lot of time taking care of the other people in your life, and you may enjoy doing it much of the time. But you can only care for others effectively if you’re also taking care of yourself, and that means sometimes putting yourself first. Taking care of yourself is not being selfish; it’s a way of making sure you’re at your best — at home, at work, and in all of the relationships you care about.