How to make the most of your biggest resource: Your diabetes team

For most people, the key to successful diabetes management is to be actively involved in their own care. But for many, the question is, how do you do that?

Alexis Campbell, Diabetes Canada 3 minute read November 3, 2019

For most people, the key to successful diabetes management is to be actively involved in their own care. But for many, the question is, how exactly do you do that? Gabriella Simo, advocacy manager for Diabetes Canada, says the most important step is to work closely with your diabetes team so you can better understand the disease and make well-informed decisions about your health. Diabetes Dialogue asked Simo to explain this further.

Diabetes Dialogue: Do I really need to take the lead? Can’t my doctor just tell me what I need to know?

Gabriella Simo: Expecting your doctor to guess what you need to know is like expecting your mechanic to guess what’s wrong with your car. Your doctor is a health-care expert, but you are the one who makes the decisions, and the more you know about your health (and your health care!), the better your decisions will be.

DD:My appointments are always so short: How do I find time to ask questions?

GS: Instead of speaking off the top of your head, prepare in advance. If there is a particular issue you want to discuss, consider stating the purpose of your visit at the beginning of the appointment so you can both focus on that subject. Writing things down will help you remember what you want to talk about. If you have several questions, list them in order of importance so you cover the most urgent matters first. If you do run out of time, schedule another appointment.

DD: How do I learn to manage a disease that is as complicated as diabetes?

GS: One way to learn about diabetes is to ask your doctor to set up an appointment for you with a certified diabetes educator (a health-care professional who specializes in teaching people about diabetes). Ask for a referral to a diabetes education program or a diabetes clinic in your community. A diabetes educator can help you set goals and develop a plan for managing your diabetes, and provide guidance on medication management, healthy eating, and physical activity. An important part of managing diabetes is learning to understand and track the results of your blood tests. Request a printed copy and explanation of your results. (A diabetes educator can also do this.) Over time, you will be able to better understand your health and how your diabetes is progressing.

DD: Say I don’t have drug insurance because I’m unemployed right now. Should I tell my doctor?

GS: Yes. If paying for medication is a problem, your doctor may be able to prescribe a less expensive medication, or tell you about financial assistance programs to help with the cost of a more expensive one.

Diabetes Canada offers a variety of resources for managing your diabetes. Visit our Tools and Resources section for more information.

How can you help us fund research, projects and campaigns that change lives? Donate now! To learn about our national diabetes strategy in support of people living with diabetes and their care, visit Diabetes 360°.

This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue.

DISCLAIMER: This section has been written/provided by Diabetes Canada with the goal of educating Canadians. The content on the website is intended for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to provide medical advice and, to the extent that medical advice is required, users should consult with qualified medical professionals.