A Letter to the Newly Diagnosed
What you need to know when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
By Wil Dubois
Welcome to the family! What? I'm the first to say that to you? Well, now that you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you're part of a HUGE family, and more people than you can imagine are facing the exact same challenges you are. In fact, more than 5,000 Americans were diagnosed with diabetes on the very same day you were. And the same thing is happening today. And 5,000 more will join us tomorrow.
Did you know that being given a diagnosis of diabetes delivers the same level of shock to your system as having a heart attack? Yeah it's a BIG deal. Everything just changed. You've now got a disease that never goes away, requires a lot of attention, and gets worse on its own no matter how hard you try.
It's OK to be a little bummed.
There's a lot you need to learn, but you don't need to learn it all today. That said, your diabetes education needs to start somewhere. There are a ton of books about diabetes out there, and most try to tell you everything you ever need to know. The authors mean well, but they probably don't have diabetes themselves. They don't understand that all you really want to do is just pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed. Forever.
Actually, there are only a few things your need to know right now. And the first is: Your diagnosis is not a death sentence. It's a life sentence, in every sense of the word. Well, in every good sense of the word, anyway. It's with you forever, but I promise you that you'll be healthier because of it.
It's not the end of the world
Yes, you've got diabetes. But your diagnosis for type 2 diabetes isn't the end of the world. You're not disabled, merely inconvenienced. Actually, you're lucky. This is a great time in history to have diabetes! No, really. We have great tools, great medications, and a great understanding of how to keep diabetes in check, how to keep it from harming you.
I know you might not feel too hot right now. On top of the shock of being diagnosed, your body hasn't been at its best for a while. Diabetes, at least the most common kind, tends to creep up on its victims over a period of many years. The high blood sugar caused by diabetes makes you feel like crap, but you probably don't even know it yet because the changes happened so slowly, a little bit at a time. It was so gradual you chalked up your symptoms to getting older, being busier than usual, or being stressed out. Diabetes typically doesn't get diagnosed until after you've been feeling terrible for a while.
The good news is that you're going to feel ten years younger in a matter of months. Your energy is about to start going up, up, up. You won't be so thirsty. Instead of getting up four times a night to pee, you'll sleep through the night. Your love life will...ummmm...improve. Your vision will get sharp. You won't be so crabby — you might not notice that one, but your loved ones sure will.
Bottom line: from this very day forward, it all gets better.
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Occasionally my mailbox or follow-the-link browsing will come up with something discussing whether (and if so, when) to ease the restrictions on treatment goals when the patient is elderly, arguing either to favor a higher quality of remaining life (lifestyle choices less limited by chronic illness) or to take into consideration geriatric cognitive decline (aka "senility") and simplify, as much as possible, the regimen. While the goal of medicine is, obviously, not to...