By: Cindy Lou, person living with type 2 diabetes
D-Day, the day a person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, is a day most people with diabetes never forget. I received my diagnosis on my birthday and I can tell you that I wasn’t in a very Happy Birthday mood as I left the Doctor’s office that day. I hear from other people so often that when they were told they had diabetes, they were maybe handed a prescription and told “see you in 3 months”. This is exactly what happened to me.
I think if we got more information when we’re first diagnosed, more type 2s would fight for control from diagnosis day forward. For that reason, I’d like to share what I learned as I went through my first few months after diagnosis. I had to really work hard to learn the right way to manage my diabetes, and here’s how I found the help I needed to do that.
My Journey Towards Knowledge
My first step was asking the doctor I was seeing to please set up a dietitian appointment for me. Since I got no help when I asked, I went in search of a new doctor, got the same run-around, and so kept trying until I found a doctor who would help me find the help I so desperately wanted.
I also learned during this time that the toll-free number on the back of my insurance card was really a good way to find help. Once I called them, I found that they would pay for a certified diabetes educator appointment without a doctor referral AND they helped me set up an appointment with one nearby who was “in network” with my insurance.
“The toll-free number on the back of your insurance card can be a great place to start as you’re looking for help…”
During this time I found that my local health department was not going to be any help at all as far as education, but I reached out to the District Health Department for our area, and found they not only have free diabetes classes but also do cooking classes. They also knew which libraries and hospitals in our region have reduced-fee classes or free support groups where I could connect with others with diabetes from time to time.
The dietitian from the District Health Department is still one of my favorite sources of information and I can go back to those classes any time I want for a refresher or for help with an issue in my blood labs from the doctor. She is also able to contact my doctor to go over certain issues if I share my blood work with her. She is so much fun and very kind and patient with everyone, whether the class size is large or small.
How To Start Learning
#1 Schedule an appointment with a dietitian. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Meeting with a dietitian to get a personalized meal plan will set you up for success.
#2 Find resources near you. Use this link to find a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program near you. Calling your district health department is another great option. They will help you find out what resources s are available in your area. Most health departments have a dietitian or diabetes educator on staff and offer classes. You can also ask them about support groups or classes you might attend through hospitals or local agencies. They can also tell you if there is a Diabetes Expo in your area.
#3 Get a meter and learn how to test. This video explains how to use a meter to test your blood sugar. If your insurance won’t cover strips, I encourage you to try the ReliOn Prime from Walmart. That meter and the strips that go with it are very reasonably priced and accurate. It’s a great back up meter to toss in your purse and carry with you too!
#4 Educate yourself! Here are my favorite websites:
Diabetes- What to Know also has great information on their Facebook page, their website and their YouTube channel. I really enjoy the teaching videos and the website also has wonderful information and articles that are easy to understand. The real plus for this website it that it’s all for Type 2 Diabetics, so I don’t have to wonder if the information is right for me and my diagnosis.
Other websites I use regularly are:
You can also find recipes from various college of agriculture extension programs like University of Illinois at this website: Recipes for Diabetes – Home – University of Illinois Extension. Many other state universities have good diabetic recipes as well. You just need to use google to find them.
And here are some other sites with helpful information about type 2 diabetes:
And last, a quote from Dr. Bill Polonsky has kept me inspired throughout my journey:
Hope this is helpful to you– be sure to leave your favorite places for diabetes information in the comments. Pay it forward and help someone else!