by Kimberly Allen R.N.
There have been many times when I have spoken to someone recently diagnosed with diabetes meletis (DM) who tell me they didn’t go to the their doctor when their symptoms began because they knew and didn’t want the doctor to tell them what they already knew. Though there is now much more information available on this disease than ever before, there continues to be a great deal of fear of it asa well. Waiting to consult your doctor because you believe you already know the answer can be dangerous for many reasons, one of them being, what if you’re wrong?
There are numerous signs and symptoms that can be related to any number of other causes. Only your doctor can really see the big picture and diagnose the cause of your symptoms. Then say you’re right and the doctor tells you that you have DM. How long you wait and how out of control your blood sugar has gotten while you were deciding ‘should I go or shouldn’t I go’ will have a significant impact on how much damage has been done and what your treatment plan will entail.
Another thing to think about is not only is there more information, the advances in the treatment of DM are astounding and growing everyday. They’ve come along way from when I watched my grandmother boil her needle and syringe and pour hot water over her corn flakes for breakfast. There are many different ways to approach DM now.
The fear most often expressed to me is how totally encompassing the disease and the treatment are. Any treatment plan for DM is going to involve changes to lifestyle, diet, and usually adds medication – lots of times that means insulin. This is very overwhelming for most anyone and most doctors are aware of that. Now with all the info and technology that is available to treat DM there is also more help available. Many home health agencies have nurses that specialize in diabetic management. Most doctors automatically will refer you to a HHA, but if yours doesn’t then you should ask for one. These services are all covered by Medicare and private insurance companies.
The HHA nurses will come to your home and the will explain the treatment plan ordered by the doctor. The treatment plan will include testing your blood sugar regularly, diet plan, medication and exercise program. The nurse will assess your specific needs as related to your lifestyle, current diet, and ability and willingness to participate in the plan. Then she will teach you how each aspect of the plan relates to you and DM. Many programs will have a dietitian come in to teach you how to maintain your blood sugar levels by eating the right foods.
Other than the fear of injecting insulin, the biggest complaint or fear expressed to me by new diabetics is the ability to stick to the new diet. I have found that most people will try harder and stick to their diet better if the know there is flexability. That’s not saying you can have chocolate cake everyday, but the dietitian can teach you how to adjust your diet to accommodate a small piece now and then. There are also numerous diabetic cookbooks out there and I have had some of the recipies and couldn’t tell they were “diabetic.” My mother made the cheesecake for my dad because he missed it so much and I had no idea it was “diabetic.” I have even tried making several of the recepies in an effort to cut back on the amount of refined sugar my family consumes. My family didn’t notice the difference. So in many ways you can still have your cake and eat it too.
The nurse always keeps the doctor informed on your progress and any changes or complications that may be encountered. There are also many new methods for insulin administration available. The HHA nurse along with your doctor will help you to find the one that best suits your disease and lifestyle.