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Type 2 Diabetes: Coping With the News

Learn how to control it, then find a support group.

In Denial continued...

But diabetes does not have to take over your life. With just a few lifestyle changes, it can be controlled, Phillips says. "It doesn't require hours of time every day."

Controlling blood sugar is Priority No. 1: "You have to check your blood sugar before you eat -- four, maybe five times a day. It takes about a minute each time," Phillips explains. "Taking a pill takes no time at all. Even if you need an insulin injection, that's less than a minute or two. You have to think about what you eat, but that will not require hours." Even regular exercise (like walking) takes half an hour maximum, a few days a week.

Ignore at Your Own Risk

Treatments for type 2 diabetes are light-years better than 40 years ago, even 10 years ago. "The medications are better, blood testing meters are better, it's not like it used to be," says Schafer. "I tell people, 'Bad things happen, but they don't have to happen to you.'"

Ignore medical advice -- but at your own peril. "If you don't take care of yourself, you'll be seeing your doctors again in a few years," she says. "You're going to be back with eye problems, kidney problems, burning and tingling of the feet and hands, in pain, suffering, and scared. You need to take care of it now."

If you feel anxious about all this, talk with your social worker, Schafer says. Some patients benefit from seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. Some take medication for their anxiety and depression. Sometimes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) masquerades as anxiety, so it's important to have the problem addressed.

Also, find a diabetes support group, she suggests. "That's where people find the motivation they need. A support group gives a feeling of hope. People know each other like family. It's a wonderful thing. They get strength, support from each other. They help each other deal with this thing in their lives."

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Reviewed on July 01, 2006

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