My Doctor Says I have Diabetes – now what?

by Anne Levy-Ward,


You get a call from your doctor’s office to come in and discuss some test results. “Let’s get right to it,” your doctor says. “I’m afraid the test shows you have type 2 diabetes.” Maybe she hands you a sheaf of pamphlets and the phone number for a diabetes clinic. Probably she says something about what to do next. But you are so upset that all you can hear through the fog of emotion is the odd word: diet … exercise … medication. But mainly, you hear your own voice inside your head: “No! No! Not me!”

A diagnosis of diabetes is definitely nothing to shrug at, so you’re right to be concerned. But there are also many useful, trustworthy resources available that will help you understand what’s happening to your body and equip you to manage your diabetes for the best possible outcome.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone your body produces to use the fuel (glucose — a simple form of sugar) your body makes from foods such as potatoes, fruit and bread, as well as from sugary foods such as ice cream and doughnuts. If you have type 2 diabetes, either your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or your body doesn’t properly use the insulin it does make. Either way, glucose builds up in your blood. (This is what “high blood sugar” means.) Diabetes doesn’t go away by itself. Left alone or not managed well, it can cause heart disease, kidney problems, blindness and nerve damage leading to amputation.

The good news about diabetes

Your doctor will set a target range for your blood sugar level, and if you keep within that range, you can live a long and healthy life. To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Eat healthy meals and snacks.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Take your diabetes medication faithfully, if prescribed.
  • Check your glucose levels regularly.

As well, there are lifestyle changes that can make a positive difference (and not just if you have diabetes):

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels on target.
  • Visit your dentist and eye doctor regularly.

Some people, at least at first, can manage their blood sugar through diet and exercise alone. But keep in mind that diabetes is a progressive, life-long condition that can be managed — but not cured. Over time, controlling your blood sugar may get harder, and your healthcare team may need to adjust your diet, activity level or medication.

Managing diabetes is a team effort

Your family doctor or endocrinologist is only one of several healthcare professionals who can help you deal with your disease. Other team members could include your pharmacist, a dietician, a foot-care specialist, an eye doctor or even a psychologist. But by far, the most important team member is you. Be informed, be realistic, be positive and take an active part in managing your disease — and you can prevent or delay complications and live a long, full and satisfying life.

Here’s some of the help that’s available from hospitals, associations, dieticians and medical equipment manufacturers:

General information

Diabetes education centres

Nutrition, menus, food shopping, recipes

Monitoring your blood sugar

Diabetes and heart health

Diabetes and exercise

Diabetes and your teeth

Diabetes and your vision

Support groups and local resources


More from on preventing and living with diabetes:

Discussing diabetes Find out more about preventing and managing diabetes. Visit Discussing diabetes.

Original Source: My Doctor Says I have Diabetes. Now What?, By Annne Levy-Ward,

©Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2013

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