Essential Lessons They Fail to Teach You*
The volume of
information to be learned about diabetes can
certainly feel overwhelming at times –
especially if you are newly diagnosed. But for
many people, what they are taught often skips
the essential lessons they need to understand
before they can begin absorbing the many ins and
outs of treatment.
1. Diabetes is
self-managed. Unlike most other illnesses,
your health care professionals cannot simply
prescribe a medicine or perform a procedure that
will make it go away. Instead, diabetes is a
lifelong condition that requires it be managed
by the person who has it on a 24/7 basis.
self-management requires ongoing support and
education. Because of the many facets of
daily life that will affect the way you feel and
your ultimate health (such as what and when you
eat and your physical activity levels and
schedule), it is important to learn all you can
about your illness and how your body reacts to
these things. The support of family, friends and
your health care professionals will make the job
easier. Education and support are lifelong needs
that should be ongoing.
treatments will change over time. Diabetes
is a progressive illness that normally requires
adjustments in the way it is treated. People who
are able to initially manage it through diet and
exercise often need to take medications,
including insulin. This doesn’t mean that your
diabetes is worse. It just means that your body
needs more help to keep your blood sugar in the
target range. In addition, because diabetes is
an area of great research interest, there are
new treatments and understandings about diabetes
that make it important to keep learning
throughout your lifetime with diabetes.
emotions are common among people with diabetes.
Many people with diabetes have feelings of
anger, guilt, fear and frustration associated
with their condition. Depression is more common
among people with diabetes than in the rest of
change strategies are often needed to manage
diabetes. A major part of diabetes
self-management involves making changes in how
you live your day-to-day life. These changes
don’t just happen through the magic of
will-power. There are proven methods and
strategies that can help you to more
successfully make these changes.
complications are not inevitable. Numerous
scientific studies have demonstrated that most
of the more serious complications of diabetes
can be avoided or at least delayed through
effective self-management, including keeping
your blood sugar and blood pressure as close to
normal as is safe for you.
self-management involves trial and error.
There is no precise formula for treating
diabetes that works for everyone. Most people
will have to experiment to discover the best
treatment for their diabetes.
self-management is not easy. All of the work
and effort required to effectively manage
diabetes can be daunting at times. It is hard
work, but it is possible, and the outcome of a
longer and healthier life is certainly worth the
the future, we will be addressing each of these
lessons in more detail under the “ 8 Lessons”
tab. In the meantime, please feel free to share
with us your personal experiences on these
topics and the aspects that you would like us to
*Adapted from Weiss
MA and Funnell MM. In the Beginning: Setting the
Stage for Effective Diabetes Care, Clinical
Diabetes, 27:149-151, 2009.