Once Colberg was old enough to understand her diabetes, she was afraid she would die at a young age from its complica-tions—that is what the medical literature of the 1970s and 1980s told her. Today, those fears are gone. New research has brightened the picture and vastly improved the lives of people with diabetes, yet this diagnosis is still frightening and confusing. Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that can lead to terrible complications. Therefore, it is important that newly diagnosed people be educated about diabetes self-management. Ideally, this program is presented by their health care teams, and many resources are also available elsewhere from books, the Internet, and support groups.
The main focus of Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) is giving people the facts and training needed to maintain physical health. This lifesaving program teaches patients how to check their blood sugar, how to eat and when, how to inject themselves with insulin, how to recognize and treat low and high blood sugar, and where to buy diabetes medications and supplies and how to store them. Often, the family is involved, as was the case with Alyssa Brandenstein and Nick Jonas. This way, they can support their loved one in the crucial task of managing diabetes.
However, once the initial education is done, people with diabetes may find it difficult to continue doing what must be done for their lifetimes. They can get discouraged or tired of having to check their blood sugar or watch what they eat. As Colberg found out in her own life, often "the problem is not so much the physical issues as the emotional ones. Diabetes crosses the physical body, the psyche, everything."19
A health care worker counsels elderly diabetics on the details of managing the disease, including monitoring blood sugar levels, using insulin and other medical supplies, and watching their diet and exercise.
In light of this, an additional program can give ongoing support to people with diabetes. It is called Diabetes Self-Management Support (DSMS). In this approach, people with diabetes work with their health care team and often with a support group of other people with diabetes to become more self-reliant in managing their illness. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by their disease, DSMS can help them feel more empowered to handle it safely and well. They learn together how to solve problems they face with their illness and receive support from others who understand. In addition, they are more likely to eat right more often, create better exercise habits, and set goals for themselves, such as exercising and eating correctly, that keep them feeling better physically and emotionally. Family workshops or camps for kids with diabetes are helpful for this kind of support.
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All you need is a proper diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise and you'll be fine. Ever heard those words from your doctor? If that's all heshe recommends then you're missing out an important ingredient for health that he's not telling you. Fact is that you can adhere to the strictest diet, watch everything you eat and get the exercise of amarathon runner and still come down with diabetic complications. Diet, exercise and standard drug treatments simply aren't enough to help keep your diabetes under control.