Taking control

Congratulations! Now you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ve now also been promoted to Chief Executive of your body. Your new Bentley (complete with peak-capped driver) is waiting for you outside.

Of course, you’ve always been Chief Executive of your body, but – like all of us – you were probably a negligent kind of leader prior to diagnosis. Perhaps akin to the louche fourth generation of an old family firm – perhaps not so bad as to fritter away the family fortune on wine, women and song but the sort of managing director who would arrive at eleven, have a long lunch with pals and leave again at three – only bothering to really take command if there were some urgent crises.

However, now you’re going to have to be sort of managing director that Sir John Harvey-Jones (old school) or Sir Alan Sugar (new school) would be proud to have in the boardroom. Anyway, we’ve probably pushed this company-analogy far enough.

The point is, now you have diabetes, you will have to take much greater care of yourself. By taking control you will make life easier for yourself and reduce the possibility of complications later in life.

Get organised

Type One diabetes will not go away; unfortunately we have it for life. So first concentrate on making life as easy as possible by being as organised as possible. In the first instance the newly-diagnosed need to get the following stuff sorted relatively quickly:

Diabetes kit

One of the (admittedly few) cool things about diabetes is some of the great kit we get. Your diabetic specialist nurse (DSN) will supply you with pens, insulin, a blood glucose meter or two, a log book and other bits and pieces. Do make sure you have spares of everything and clear out a drawer at home to keep all your diabetic-related kit in one place.

A good plan is to have some boxes or baskets to keep all your needles, lancets and other kit organised (Ikea are great for this sort of thing). It is also quite a good idea to have a cache of stores (say some needles and test strips) in other places – for example in the office, or the car, at college or wherever you commonly go. It means you can grab a bunch of needles and so on when you need some and there is nothing more frustrating than running out of supplies.

In a similar vein, keep a cache of your favourite sweets along with your other supplies. Hypos only really become a problem if you do not have anything to hand to sort them. So if you always have a supply of Fruit Pastilles, or whatever, close to hand hypos won’t be a problem. Easy!

Also worthwhile is some sort of bag to keep all your kit tidy while you are out and about. If it is easy to grab in the morning when you head out of the house, then it’s less likely you will forget it.

Notepad

When you’re newly diagnosed you have an awful lot to learn about diabetes. It’s therefore a good idea to carry small notebook around with you so you can make a few notes about when you had hypos and hypers and what might have caused them.

When you are armed with this information it makes it a lot easier to try and work out a pattern of just what went wrong and why. You can also jot down questions for your doctor or DSN for the next time you see them.

General Practitioner

If you haven’t already, sign up with your local doctor as they will generally be your first point of contact for most things health-related. After the first year or so you might not see your local doctor very often (you may well go to your local clinic or hospital for your regular check-ups). However, your neighbourhood doctor can be very helpful with less-specific problems and general advice.

If you do have worries and concerns after diagnosis a ten minute session with your GP is often enough to set your mind at ease about something that’s gone wrong or 3am worries about your feet rotting off (we’ve all been there). However, a GPs’ knowledge about diabetes varies enormously. Some are very good, others less so. Unless you happen to have a good GP, then the very specific questions are best left to your DSN.

Pharmacist

Find a local pharmacist near your workplace (or wherever you spend most of your time – be it school, college, laboratory, brothel, chemical weapons testing facility or whatever) as you will be seeing an awful lot of them.
Pharmacists love diabetics. We provide them with a regular and relatively lucrative income from the constant supply of insulin, test strips and whatever else that we ask for each month. As you are now your pharmacist’s new best friend, take advantage of this and make them your bitch.

A good pharmacist will make your life easier by helping to organise your repeat prescriptions for you. No trudging to doctors each month for you – set it up so you can phone your pharmacist to tell her (or him) that you need more stuff and thereafter await its arrival a few days later.

If your pharmacist won’t do this for you, act like Alan Sugar and fire them from your boardroom. There are plenty of others who will love to get your business.

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