Being newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is life changing. Even if you knew the signs and caught it early, you still often shocked. You may feel overwhelmed as the world that you once knew no longer exists.
Here are a few things that we found helped you get through the early days of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Having diabetes isn’t a choice. There is no alternative other than working each day to do your very best. You cannot stop taking insulin, checking blood glucose levels or looking after yourself. You are too valuable.
You can take back some of your power, however. Educate yourself on your options. Work with your diabetes team to find the best method of insulin delivery for you.
If you get great control on multiple daily injections, keep injecting!
If you feel that an insulin pump is for you, do all that you can to start pumping!
A continuous glucose monitor may or may not be your cup of tea. That is okay. Educate yourself so that your diabetes care fits your lifestyle rather than you having to fit to it.
Find a support system.
Whether you join an online support group, or simply share your concerns with family members, it is vital that you have support in your daily diabetes care.
Dealing with type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 job. There are no breaks. As a person newly diagnosed with diabetes, it is quickly overwhelming. Make sure that you have an outlet for those feelings.
Take time to exercise.
Exercise will not only help you to reduce your A1c, but it is also fabulous for your mental health. If you were involved in an exercise routine before you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, speak with your diabetes team about how to safely return to exercise.
If you haven’t been active before your diagnosis, your clinic can advise you on the best way to exercise and how to manage your food and exercise before, after, and during activities.
It is okay to not be okay.
Living with diabetes is more than just finger pokes and injections. It is a 24/7 job that has no reprieve. High and low blood sugar levels can cause depression.
Whether you are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or have been living with it for years, take your mental health seriously. It is okay to ask for help or simply take time to focus on you.
Investigate financial supports.
Diabetes can also take a toll on your wallet. The high cost of diabetes supplies can be crippling for many.
In many countries there is some financial help. Make sure to check with your local diabetes clinic to see what help is available for those who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Remember that diabetes is complicated.
In her book, One Step up from a lab rat, Donna Marcelissen stated that “most people believe that insulin and diet are all that a diabetic needs to follow in order to live a healthy, complication-free life….however, this is a disease and how the body reacts to it is not predictable.”
When you are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you quickly learn that there is much more involved than simply “take an injection and call me in the morning”. Such a diagnosis changes your life. It changes your perspective. Type 1 diabetes demands your time and your efforts constantly.
Take life four hours at a time
Most people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes will be put on a basal/bolus regimen. This means that they are using one type of insulin to cover their basic bodily functions and another to cover the impact of food.
The insulin that covers your food, rapid acting insulin, tends to work for up to four hours at a time. It can be easier on your mental health to break your days down into those four hour sections.
What this means is that you take the time from when you get up until lunch time (approximately four hours) and examine it. How were your blood sugars? What could you have done differently? What worked? You then do this for your afternoon, evening, and even overnight.
By breaking your day down into manageable chunks, you can tweak things that go wrong and celebrate the times that everything works perfectly! This can help to reduce the amount of overwhelm and frustration you may feel.
Once again, remember that there will be downs but there will be ups and over time you will learn to live life with diabetes not for it.