Your mind may be reeling from the diagnosis that you have diabetes. The changes you need to make in your life may be overwhelming at first. Don’t worry; take your time to let the diagnosis sink in and, once you are feeling calmer, reassess your situation.
What are we aiming for?
In diabetic management, the goals are:
- To keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible, and as stable as possible (without going too high or too low)
- To prevent high blood glucose levels from causing damage to the organs in your body.
To ensure that you are on the right track, you will need to constantly monitor your condition through a series of tests. Some tests can be conducted on your own, such as monitoring your blood glucose, while others involve your healthcare team extracting a sample of your blood to be analysed in the laboratory.
Source: Ministry of Health Malaysia. (2009). Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) on management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) (4th ed.). Putrajaya: Health Technology Assessment Section.
Types of tests
Blood glucose (glycaemic) control
4.4 – 6.1 mmol/L
4.4 – 8.0 mmol/L
• HDL cholesterol
• LDL cholesterol
• When kidney function is normal
• When there is a kidney problem
While the above figures may not mean much to you now, they represent the goals of your diabetes management. By comparing your results to those in the table, you will know whether you are on the right track. We will discuss more about this in the later pages.
For now, you should understand that there is a purpose for keeping to these goals. For example, research has found that even a small reduction in HbA1c has great positive impact on your health.
Just 1% reduction in HbA1c gives
- 21% reduction in risk of death related to diabetes
- 37% reduction in risk of complications from damage to small blood vessels (microvascular complications)
- 14% reduction in risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction)
Therefore, do not wait until you are feeling ill before taking action. Take steps to manage your diabetes as soon as possible. After all, every little improvement can go a long way in ensuring that you have a healthy and fulfilling life despite your diabetes!
Take charge of your health
When it comes to T2DM, you are primarily responsible for its management.
Yes, you read that correctly. It may be tempting to rely solely on your healthcare team to guide you, but a big part of good diabetes management relies on your own determination to stay healthy. You will be the one responsible for taking your medications and making the necessary changes in your lifestyle.
So, it is important that you know what you are doing. Don’t let the changes in life overwhelm you – that is the fastest route to giving up and letting T2DM get the better of you.
You can stay healthy, for yourself and your loved ones. You can do it. Stay focused, and you will be fine.
Planning your next steps
- Educate yourself. Read up on T2DM from authoritative sources, such as books and websites. However, there is much misinformation on T2DM out there, so discuss with your healthcare team on what you have found to ensure that your sources are accurate.
- Be proactive. Your healthcare team will work with you to come up with medication and lifestyle plans to help you manage your T2DM better. Ask questions when you have doubts. Do not worry about being seen as “fussy” or “problematic”, as most healthcare teams will be happy to answer your questions. Make sure you know exactly what you need to do.
- Start your own journal, as it would be good to record your medication, food and self-monitoring values. Your records would be useful during consultations with your healthcare teams as well as during medical emergencies.
- Share with your family the lifestyle changes you need to make. It is greatly recommended that the entire family make the changes associated with diet and physical activity together, as this only contributes to the success of your T2DM management as well as the overall health and wellness of the entire family. If you have difficulties convincing your family to make these changes, share your concerns with your healthcare team. They would be happy to help facilitate discussions with your family members.