There are many ways you can support your loved ones, it depends on the situations that surround your relationship. This is a general guide full of suggestions that can help you support the loved ones in your life who, just like me, are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I have no experience with supporting someone with Type 1 and I wish you the best of luck with your journey, hopefully these suggestions can help guide you in the right direction.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 is when the body cannot use insulin the way it should, also known as insulin resistance. The food we eat is broken down in to glucose which the body uses as fuel. The pancreas releases insulin to help get the glucose from your blood to the other cells in the body. When the body continues in-taking sugar, the pancreas creates excess insulin and eventually the body cannot keep up with production and that function becomes impaired and sugar begins building up in the bloodstream.
How do you manage it?
Type 2 is managed using insulin, oral medications, and glucose monitors. Monitors are used at various times of the day to measure our blood sugar levels and can tell us if we are experiencing low-, high- or normal blood sugar levels. We use lancets to prick our finger to draw a drop of blood. We put a test strip in to our monitor and put it up to the drop of blood, hopefully it is enough of a sample, and the device reads it. For treatment, we take oral medications, mostly metformin. If we need an extra boost, we have a dose of insulin, which can be taken with every meal, at bedtime, or once a week.
What can I do to help in cases of emergency?
If we are having an emergency, it will most likely be the result of a low blood sugar episode. This could look like cold sweats, disorientation, fatigue, and light-headedness. This can be remedied with fast-acting glucose such as juice boxes, hard candy, glucose tablets, or any other sugary food or drink. On the extreme, we might have passed out and become unconscious. If this happens, call emergency services immediately. Hopefully we will have set up our Medical ID that can help emergency personnel treat us properly.
What can you eat?
Type 2 diabetics can eat whatever they choose to eat, as long as they mind the glycemic index (sugar content) or the amount of carbs in the foods they eat and the amount of insulin they need to inject after consuming food. Sugary foods and carbs are okay in MODERATION.
Beware of sugar-free, low-carb, etc labels. Just because it says sugar-free does not mean they are not filled with other alternatives. Most of the time when they say it is free of or low in something, companies have had to add something else to make it taste nearly the same to keep people coming back for more.
Most doctors will tell their patients that were recently diagnosed that they need to make a lifestyle change in order to control their blood sugar. My biggest advice for you is to support our new lifestyle. We may need to go out and exercise more, why not go on that walk around the neighborhood with us? We may need to cut out excess desserts from our diet, why not avoid eating sugary foods in front of us?
Please avoid micromanaging us, we know what we can and cannot eat. Please avoid chastising us, we know we shouldn’t eat that slice of pizza, just let us and make sure we don’t eat too much of it.
You do not need to tiptoe around us, just keep in mind that these changes could be drastically different from the lifestyle we lived before and it may be hard for us to change everything in our life in the beginning. Help make it easier for us, do it with us. Who knows, maybe that walk might help you keep diabetes away from yourself.