Your healthcare team
Living successfully with type 1 diabetes (T1D) requires you to be fully in control of your diabetes management. Self-management means having a daily management plan, setting goals, solving problems, and taking responsibility. But it certainly doesn’t mean that you are on your own. Clear and ongoing communication between you and your diabetes health care team is essential for effective self-management. The foundation for success is diabetes education. A thorough knowledge of diabetes and how to best manage it will give you the confidence and motivation to keep on top of your disease. Everyone is different, and decisions need to be made on a daily basis. This means your management plan must be tailored to suit your medical needs and goals, taking into account your resources and lifestyle. You can turn to a team of healthcare professionals who can help you manage your diabetes. In the ideal situation, a patient with T1D would have a team of specialists whom they meet with on a regular basis. The team might include an endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator, and dietitian. In addition to these team members, you might also seek other specialists.
An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of hormones. Because insulin is a hormone, diabetes is one of the diseases that endocrinologists are trained to take care of. You should see an endocrinologist at regular intervals determined by your family doctor. Since this will be a long-term relationship, it is a good idea to find an endocrinologist you like, who is conveniently located, and whom you can contact for help when you are sick.
Diabetes educators are a significant source of information about diabetes and how to manage it in the real world. They can help you learn about taking insulin, monitoring blood glucose, foot care, physical activity, and more.
Your general practitioner (or family doctor) will focus on your overall health. They can also provide you with referrals to other specialists.
A dietitian can provide you with information on food choices, portion sizes, glycemic index (GI) and menu planning, taking into account your own preferences. Dietitians are a particularly useful resource if you also suffer from other conditions related to diabetes, such as celiac disease.
Learning how to manage life with T1D can be a difficult and at times daunting experience. A counselor can provide you and your loved ones with support as you adjust.
Get to know your local pharmacist. He or she will keep a record of the medications you take and can inform you of any potential side effects or interactions.
Eye damage from diabetes is manageable with early intervention, so make sure you have an annual dilated eye check-up to help keep damage at bay.
Finding the right doctor
In all areas of your life, you will come across people you connect with and others you don’t. The same is likely to happen with diabetes health care professionals. It is important to find a doctor or team with whom you feel comfortable and can discuss your diabetes and concerns. You also need to like and trust them. If you don’t, you have the right to seek care elsewhere. Be proactive about this; otherwise you are likely to avoid scheduling regular appointments, which may affect your long-term health.
Finding financial assistance when you need it
There is no doubt that living with T1D will impact your budget. Unfortunately, many people with no health insurance or limited coverage may need additional resources to help them care properly for their T1D. But there are ways you can get assistance if you need it. Speak with your health care team and pharmacist for options that are available