Fear and confusion are normal reactions to a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, says Theresa Truelove, a Champaign-Urbana Public Health District nurse and co-chair of the new Community Diabetes Coalition in Champaign County.
If you or a loved one are dealing with a new diabetes diagnosis, here is some advice from Truelove about what to do next:
1. Take a deep breath and know your reaction is normal. Acceptance of the diagnosis is the next step, but for some people, it can take some time, Truelove says.
She compares it to mourning, and people on the way to accepting a new diagnosis to those going through the five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
2. Next, look at your habits. Your health care provider has likely given you some information about diet and exercise. Are you filling your plate several times? Are you a zero exerciser? What are you doing right and what needs to change?
3. Don’t try to change everything at once!
If you need to lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink and/or change the way you eat, your chances of success will be much greater if you tackle one or two of your habits at a time.
4. Be aware that 99 percent of diabetes care is self-management, so find a class or a group that will help you learn from others and become encouraged to care for yourself.
Health care providers know scare tactics don’t work and rules don’t work, Truelove says. People with diabetes need to internalize the changes they need to make and make them their own.
“If you haven’t made the changes in your head and in your mind, it’s not going to work,” she said. “You fall right back down.”