Contributor: Gina Gavlak, RN, BSN
As a nurse I often hear patients say, “I know what needs to be done, I just don’t know how to do it,” or “I won’t be able to do it.” The “it” is behavior change – a major part of controlling diabetes.
There are specific behaviors that result in good blood sugar control, reduce complications and improve quality of life, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These behaviors include:
If you’re asking, “How do I do it?” let’s get started!
When creating a plan to address diabetes, ask yourself first: Do I have a game plan? Is it the right plan for my unique needs? Does it include things I like? Here are four next steps.
Diabetes management and sports share similarities. On the court, a basketball team has five players. Each player has a unique role – a specialty – that contributes to the success of the team. The team works together, supports and develops strategies to accomplish their goals. Along the way, changes are made if goals aren’t being reached. The team works when the right players are in the right positions. If one is missing, or not playing a position where his strength lies, the team isn’t as strong and the results not as favorable.
A strong diabetes team includes a minimum of five to six people – the person with diabetes, primary care physician, dietitian, nurse educator and ophthalmologist (eye doctor). For many, it also includes an endocrinologist, a doctor specializing in diabetes.
You and your PCP are the core of the team. Other team members are added as needed – such as a podiatrist, psychologist and cardiologist. A team approach improves diabetes management because each provider works with you on areas they have received extensive training in. If you need to learn about label reading, or anything food related, meeting with a dietitian makes the most sense because nutrition is her area of expertise.
People with diabetes are responsible for making 90 to 95 percent of decisions regarding their diabetes care. That’s a lot of responsibility!
Diabetes self-management is a continuous learning process. Your body’s needs change, as do medications and technologies (blood sugar meters, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors). Follow these steps:
Your team is there to teach you everything you need to know to reach your goals.
As someone with diabetes, I know it’s a lot of work, but having a plan that helps you achieve your goals and prevent those horrible complications is definitely worth the time and effort. The first step is getting started. You can do it!
Gina Gavlak, RN, BSN is a Diabetes Program Development Coordinator at Lakewood Hospital.