Community Viewpoints: Missing Basic Diabetes Education
This blog post is part of the Community Viewpoint series. Looking at the diabetes community, one of the things I am seeing is we are missing basic diabetes education. I see this in diabetes support groups, and when I speak with diabetes support professionals. Doctors are not teaching people the basics when they diagnose people with diabetes. I will not discuss advanced topics, like continuous glucose monitoring, or insulin pumps here – this is only about the basics.
Basic Diabetes Education
The basics seem like they should be pretty simple, yes? Test your blood sugar. Do not eat sugar. Take your insulin. Watch the number of carbohydrates you eat. This sounds like easy stuff. Many doctors take these things for granted and leave patients with only “you have diabetes”. As a result, diabetes support professionals meet with diabetics every day and spend time doing basic diabetes education.
Know Your Disease
First, and foremost, know your disease!
The most important part of basic diabetes education is to know diabetes. Learn what it is, how it affects your body, and how to care for yourself. It is only when you know how diabetes affects you that you can take care about yourself. Take time to learn the facts, and the myths about diabetes. With proper care, there is no reason you cannot live a full and normal life.
Testing Blood Glucose
Many people do not know how to test their blood sugar levels. This is one of the most important things a diabetic can do. Until you learn to test your blood sugar, you will not have any idea of how your treatment is working. This video from one of the meter companies shows how to test your blood sugar. This video will work with any blood glucose meter.
The most important thing to remember is to wash your hands!
Not washing your hands will give you bad results. Not washing your hands is not about having clean hands. It is about removing the oils and sugars from your fingers.
What Are Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are sugars. Everything has sugars of one kind or another. Learn what things you should eat, and what things you should not. Green vegetables have almost no carbohydrates. Meats have next to no sugars. Fruits have sugars, but are healthier sugars. Processed sugars are bad. Potatoes and rice are starches, but that means carbohydrates, which means sugars. Leave them alone when possible. The more sugars you eat, the higher your blood sugars will be. Know which carbohydrates are good, and which to leave alone. Again, educate yourself.
Know Your Options
Like everything else, know your options. Only when you know what your options are, can you choose which is best for you. For example, insulin. Many people take the insulin the doctor gives them. However, there are many types of insulin available. Options to long-term insulin are insulin pumps. Even in insulin pumps, there are many options (ones with tubes, ones that are tubeless).
What works best for you is up to you. In my case, I chose Afrezza inhaled insulin because it gives me the most flexibility, and it works the fastest.
Talk to Your Doctor
Once you have the missing diabetes education, you are ready to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. These days, an informed patient is a healthy patient. Long gone are the days of doctors that will make all the decisions for you, to keep you healthy. I urge you to look out for your own health.