Living with Diabetes: 5 Ways to Get Others to Help You

By Alan L. Rubin

Diabetes is a social disease, which means that you can’t continue very long with diabetes without calling on the help and expertise of others. Asking for help is not such a bad thing. People who regularly interact with others seem to live longer and have a higher quality of life.

Discover how to make use of the great resources that are available to people with diabetes. With so many knowledgeable people are out there, it would be a shame not to utilize their information.

  • Explain Hypoglycemia: If you take either insulin or one of the sulfonylurea medications, you may become hypoglycemic. Occasionally, hypoglycemia can be so severe that you’re unaware of the problem. At that point, someone in your environment needs to know the symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to treat it.

    You may want to make a list of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and pass it around to your family and friends. You should keep that list and an emergency kit to treat hypoglycemia at home and at work. You may even want to wear a medical alert bracelet so someone can identify your problem when none of these people are around.

  • Find an Exercise Partner: Few people continue a regular exercise program completely on their own. However, when you know that someone is waiting for you, you tend to perform the exercise much more regularly.

    If you belong to a club, finding an exercise partner is easy. First, you select the sport, and then you hang out in the place where the sport is played. If the sport is a racket sport, you will soon find others at about your level. If the sport is something like running, you have to be a little forward and ask whether you can join someone or a group about to run. The people you can keep up with are your natural exercise partners.

    If you’re not a member of a club, finding an exercise partner is a little more difficult. You may have to approach people with whom you work, or you may need your significant other to commit to exercising with you. Most people are happy to walk with you, and some will run and bike with you. Cyclists seem to like group activity, and you can check out listings at a local bike shop or the Sunday newspaper in the activities section to find a group. If you can’t seem to find an exercise partner, try a personal trainer.

  • Enlist Help to Fight Food Temptation: Ever since Adam and Eve, the problem of temptation has been on the front burner. For a diabetic, the constant temptation is to eat foods that do not further your major diabetic goal, which is to control your blood glucose. The opportunities for screwing up your diet are boundless. Just like your exercise partner, your “food partner” — your significant other — can make staying on your diet a lot easier for you.

    If your partner cooks most of the meals in your household, he or she has a responsibility to prepare the right kinds of foods. To do so, your partner must know what to make and what to avoid. If you go to the dietitian, take your partner along.

    When it comes to eating out, your loved one can steer you to restaurants where you can choose foods that work for you. When you’re in the restaurant, he or she can point out the healthy choices. The best way to direct you is to set an example of appropriate eating for you.

    If you’re asked to dinner in someone’s home, your partner can help by telling your host in advance that you have diabetes and need to avoid eating certain foods. It is unwise, however, to turn your loved one into a nag. Asking to be reminded each time you stray from your diet will lead to hostility.

  • Expand Your Diabetes Knowledge: The person who serves as your diabetes educator is the source of a huge amount of necessary and sometimes critical information. Every person with diabetes ought to go through a program of education after the initial shock of the diagnosis is past. Never hesitate to ask a question, no matter how basic you think it may be. You will be surprised by how many others want the same information. Insurance will generally pay for yearly education, but check your insurance to be sure.

    Of course, every caregiver should be a diabetes educator as well. When you are past the formal diabetes education program, don’t hesitate to ask questions of your physician, your dietitian, or any of the other people in your team.

    Knowledge about diabetes is expanding so fast that great advances are arriving almost daily. Some of these advances may be just what you need.

  • Discuss Your Meds with the Pharmacist: One of your most valuable and least utilized resources is your pharmacist. He or she is loaded with information about drug actions, interactions, side effects, proper dosage and administration, and contraindications, as well as what to do in case of an overdose. Every time you get a new medication, you can have your pharmacist run it against the medications you’re already taking and see whether any problems might occur. Thanks to computers, this comparison should take only a few minutes. If you work with one drug store, you should be able to get a printout of your entire list of medications, which you can carry with you in case you ever need medical care.

    The pharmacist can also save you money by recommending generic equivalents to the brands that your doctor prescribes. The doctor may have good reason to prescribe them, so the pharmacist will check with him before giving you a different medication.

    The information in the computer tends to be all-inclusive. If a drug has ever had a side effect, no matter how rare, it will probably be in the computer. The drug manufacturer wants to be able to say that it warned you about every possibility. If a side effect or drug interaction is serious, discuss it with your physician before you start the new medication.