Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia - 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." ■

ALL THE
SUPPORT
YOU NEED
IS AT UVA
HEALTH
SYSTEM
When you have diabetes, the truth
is you're at greater risk of having a
heart attack or a stroke and developing poor circulation to your legs
and feet.
That's why at UVA Health System,
we make it easy to access all of the
care and resources you'll need to
understand how to reduce your
risk of these serious complications.
UVA's diabetes care services include
workshops, classes and individual
sessions, as well as insulin pump help
and foot care.
UVA's Diabetes Education and
Management Program offers a complete approach to diabetes care that
addresses your whole body.
Certified diabetes educators are
registered nurses and dietitians who
provide education and support on
how to manage and prevent the
complications of diabetes.
Doctors who specialize in
diabetes see patients in the
Charlottesville, Culpeper and Zion
Crossroads locations.

WEBSITE

We're Here for You
Learn more about the UVA
Health System doctors who
specialize in diabetes (endocrinologists) and the nurses and
dietitians who serve as certified diabetes educators. Go to
uvahealth.com/diabetes.

WIN TE R 2016

19


http://www.uvahealth.com/diabetes

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