Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - Gwinnett Medical Center - 19

THE FIRST WEEK First, the basics: Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps your body use the glucose (sugar) you take in through food. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use it well. When your body's cells aren't able to use the glucose for energy, it stays in the blood, raising blood glucose levels, which can cause serious complications. What to do? EDUCATE YOURSELF. The first step is to seek out diabetes education, says Andrew Rhinehart, MD, author of I Have Diabetes!! Now What? (2009). Diabetes is different from a lot of conditions. It's not as simple as taking a pill every day, Rhinehart says. "With diabetes, you have to worry about what to eat, exercise, medications, injections ... It goes on and on. It's incredibly complex." The ADA and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) are helpful resources. "If people walk into a recognized or accredited program, they are going to learn everything they need to learn about diabetes," AADE spokeswoman Joanne Rinker says. BUILD A CARE TEAM. Rhinehart advises surrounding yourself with a team that includes a diabetes educator, a primary care doctor, a dietitian and a pharmacist. At some point, you may also need an eye doctor, an endocrinologist, a podiatrist or other specialists, in case you face any complications. FIND SUPPORT. It's hugely helpful to have supportive loved ones, but going beyond your personal network can be beneficial, too. Look into community support groups, where you can continue your education and build relationships with other people who have diabetes. THE FIRST MONTH You've started to build your team, and you're more knowledgeable about the disease. What's next? SET GOALS. When you receive your diabetes diagnosis, your doctor will talk to you about your blood sugar levels. Working with your doctor or educator, you'll probably set some long-term and short-term goals for how you'll bring these numbers into a healthy range. START AN EXERCISE PROGRAM. "Exercise is free medicine," Rinker says. "Every time you do it, you are working to decrease your blood sugar at that moment-as well as for hours after you've completed the exercise." Your diabetes educator can help you establish a plan that works for you. But rest assured, you don't need to become a gym rat. Regular walking is a great start. GET YOUR FAMILY ON BOARD. Most likely, your daily meal plan will change. Talk to your family about those changes and why they matter. What's helpful is that a diabetes diet is simply eating healthy foods, Rhinehart says. So the whole family can eat your diet- and everyone benefits. THE FIRST YEAR You'll start to adapt to your health changes and-if all goes to plan- feel better. CHECK IN REGULARLY. Experts recommend getting your blood sugar levels checked and seeing your doctor every three months in the fi rst year. As you do, your doctor may modify your medication regimen. "If you're working hard with your team ... there's no reason you can't reach the majority of your goals within a year," Rhinehart says. ESTABLISH CALM AND CONTROL. The good news? "You'll likely feel better-and more in control-by the end of the first year," Rhinehart says. "The sense of being overwhelmed will go away," he says. "You will be able to manage this." ■ HOW TO SUPPORT A LOVED ONE WHO HAS DIABETES A diabetes diagnosis affects the whole family. Here are a few simple things you can do to help your loved one feel better: 3 CHANGE YOUR DIET, TOO. "The meal plan for diabetes is really how we should all be eating," says Cris Hartley, Gwinnett Medical Center's director of Diabetes & Nutrition Education, certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian. "Don't think of it as a 'diet' but as a new way of eating healthier for the entire family." 3 JOIN IN ON EXERCISE. "Just like the healthy meal plan," Hartley adds, "exercise and being more active is important for health whether you have diabetes or not." 3 GO TO CLASS. Support your partner by attending diabetes education classes and learning everything you can about the disease. 3 OFFER ENCOURAGEMENT. Be your loved one's cheerleader. Offer support and encouragement as he or she learns to make good choices. CLASS Diabetes Education Learn how to prevent or manage diabetes with community classes from Gwinnett Medical Center. Learn more at gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/ dnec. WIN TE R 2016 19 http://www.gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/dnec

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - Gwinnett Medical Center

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