emotional health

First months after diagnosis - Diabetes Type 1

When someone hears such news it’s probably a shock. Terms like chronic and impairment are usually mentioned along with mistaken thoughts that it is an old people illness.

Usually diabetes shows up as a surprise disrupting in a shocking way the person’s life.

Some people suffer more than others but there is no doubt that it is a remarkable event that will set a before and after in their lives. It’s necessary to adapt by avoiding certain habits, acquiring new ones and modifying some of them. It is important to remember that many other things in life, positive or negative, will also demand such changes. I am aware that it is hard to generalize, especially in situations where the individual’s personal characteristics play such an important role.

Therefore, the attitude with which you face this new situation will be very much tied up to the particular characteristics of this illness (the need of an external source of insulin, acquiring new more or less predictable habits, the importance of foreseeing the consequences of some decisions, etc.), as well as personality traits like tendency to anxiety or depression.

What usually happens is that our body which was just a support thing where we organized our lives on will become the main character forcing the person to be more aware of it and its functioning.

Frequently seen conducts and behaviors

It has been already established that each person will react different to this new situation. Nevertheless, there’s a series of behaviors that will most certainly occur during the firsts weeks or months after the diagnosis.

Questions and more questions

One of the most characteristic things is the massive eruption of all kind of questions; many of them are geared to “discover” the origin of the diabetes. This is the patient effort to explain something incomprehensible. It is frequent that endocrinologists answer questions like, is it because I ate too many sweets? It becomes frustrating when the health professionals dismisses the idea but can not provide an accurate explanation for the origins of the disease. Things like a genetic component that not all of us develop or it is being researched become familiar answers.

Another group of possibly more important questions will be the ones related to the future, Will I be able to…? What are the complications will I develop? Fortunately in respect to these questions there are clear answers even though no exact ones can be given for each case.

Having the conviction that it can be cured

The “honeymoon period” is a very frequent phenomenon at the beginning of the disease. Because of it, many people seem to have the conviction that they will be cured. This wish is fed in part, by the misinformation received from the wrong channels, the press and out of context information). It is basic to let the patient know that any relevant advances in the treatment of type I diabetes will be discussed with the health professionals that conforms the comprehensive approach team of reference.

Tendency to be over informed

The third behavior observed after diagnosis will be the need to be informed about everything related to the disease. Most of the time the excessive reading of diabetes texts results in the opposite situation: a total misinformation.

Not all books about diabetes or self -help will meet their goal. Some lack of didactic methods. It is advisable that the diabetes team recommend the patient in regards to proper texts to be read.

Suggestions

I would like to mention some recommendations that may help in the time where a “person” becomes a “diabetic person” with the intention of decrease the impact of the diagnosis.

What chronic means

Many times the concepts of chronic equals disable in the minds of people. In regards to diabetes nothing is further from the truth. Type I diabetes diagnosis imposes a change of lifestyle but it does not suppose an obstacle to build a normal life. Limitations are not absolute ones and they come in many levels and shades. There are patients following proper treatment that live a life without any limitations.

Considering the last statement, it is a matter of developing goals and the strategies to achieve them.

Also there seems to be the believe that chronic and forever ness mean the same.

On the other hand, investing lots of energy waiting for a cure is wasting present time.

These reflections are important when determining a proper attitude in front of the disease. A loser attitude will drastically diminish the possibility of having a good quality of life.

How to acquire necessary info

Obviously, someone just diagnosed must process a large amount of information regarding diabetes this information will include data to properly control the diabetes and therefore how to avoid the risks of possible complications.

The pressure to learn could become an obstacle to the learning process and even stop it.

Someone in that situation should consider these recommendations:

•  Good information is better than lots of information. Quality is better than quantity.

The rhythm of learning should be reasonable. This means that to be effective it should relate to the patient’s motivation. Stopping at the first obstacle is as bad as trying to handle too much information.

In diabetes two plus two not always equal four. It is obvious that there’s a cause and effect relationship bus it is impossible to control all the variables that could affect the blood sugar levels. The best recommendation is to control the things that depend on the patient individual choices and try to minimize the impact of those things that can not be controlled. In order to achieve this, it is true that the proper education and instruction will help to better understand and control aspects of the disease.

The comprehensive health team should be the most important source of diabetes education. The patient should consider the health team as an ally and not as a judge. If the patient doesn’t feel comfortable with its health team he should change it.

Good support

For all of us to have a good quality of life it is necessary to count on the people that surround us.

Sometimes a person cannot manage such a special situation without the support and comprehension from other people. Staying on their own can degenerate in loneliness and anxiety.

Friends and family will provide the emotional support required in times of need. The health professionals will provide the knowledge that the individual needs and the diabetics associations will serve as guides to solve specific situations.

It will not be wise to turn away from any of these sources. Each one has a different role that complements the other. They certainly help the person to better adapt to their new situation.

I hope that these suggestions even though they can’t cure your diabetes, will at least help you start your life in a more positive way.
  Iñaki Lorente Armendáriz
Traslated by Ana González de Elías
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