My world was rocked when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes a year ago. It has been an unusual journey for me as this is my first real medical condition to deal with. If I can help someone else get through their first year of diabetes, then we have both gained something from this experience.
The Initial Diagnosis
I found the initial diagnosis somewhat confronting, especially seeing as I didn't feel sick. I had no symptoms. A routine blood test showed a high blood sugar reading and I was sent for another test. Clearly, the doctor knew why I had the second test, and the test had confirmed it, but I didn't really know why I was having the test. I wasn't aware that a "chronic illness" was the likely outcome of "GTT (fasting)". I had no idea what GTT meant, just like any other code on a pathology request form. So it came as a bit of a shock when the doctor said, "Right, so … you have diabetes."
All I knew of this condition was: people have to inject themselves with needles; the end. I had no other knowledge of what it meant.
The doctor talked about diabetes management and treatment. She explained to me that we would start by managing it with diet and exercise. If that did not keep it under control, we would move on to tablets. And further down the track we would consider insulin injections. But first I had to have a Management Team.
The Diabetes Management Team
I was referred to a Diabetes Educator (a registered nurse who is accredited in this disease) and a Nutritionist. I assume my situation was not urgent as the first appointment I could get was a month away.
So I spent that month learning about diabetes, with a trip to the local Borders Bookstore, and a few hundred dollars worth of books, and a lot of googling. I learned about blood glucose and high blood sugar level, about insulin resistance.
As you would expect, I was experiencing emotions that were all over the place. I felt that I had ruined my life, ruined my body. I felt anger that this was happening to me. I felt denial because I didn't physically feel anything wrong. I told my parents and brother. Perhaps they should be tested too. Or at least make some changes to their lifestyles too. I told my boss and immediate work colleagues.
Finally, it was time for the appointment with the Nutritionist. I felt a little dismayed after meeting with her. She didn't really have anything new to tell me that I hadn't already learned for myself over the past month. And she was surprised that I had already learned so much. Is that just me? Would you sit around for a month with a "chronic illness" and not do anything about it?
The following week I had the appointment with the Diabetes Educator. This was the meeting I had been waiting for. She talked me through what diabetes was. She had information I hadn't already learned. And then she pulled out a blood glucose monitor and showed me how to use it. She gave me a diary to record my readings. I was now a fully-fledged diabetic. I had my own little home monitor, and pin-pricks, and test strips. Now I could start to learn what effect different foods had on my blood.
She also sent me away with a list of other medical professionals that I had to arrange to see – optometrist, podiatrist, and dentist – some of whom I still haven't seen.
So this is my Diabetes Management Team:
- diabetes educator
- and a big dent in the bank balance
My next diabetes article will cover what changes I have made since my diagnosis and what affect it has had on my health and my life. I will share with you how I lost 11 kilos (24 pounds).
If you are reading this because you have diabetes, I wish you luck with your own Journey. If you are reading this in support of a loved one, I hope this helps you understand it a little of what they are going through, from their perspective.
Diabetes Australia 
Diabetes UK 
American Diabetes Association 
I recommend you join an Association in your country as they provide a wealth of information, tips, recommendations, discounts, etc.