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One of the most powerful and simple methods to take control of your diabetes is to follow a “diabetes warranty program.”
The concept is simple and is similar to the warranty program for a new automobile. If you follow the regularly scheduled maintenance program recommended by the manufacturer, your new car will run better and last longer. I designed the diabetes warranty program in order to prevent the onset and to delay the progression of the complications of diabetes. If you follow the regularly scheduled maintenance program recommended by leaders in the field of diabetes, you will feel better and last longer!
All diabetics need a maintenance record book that lists the recommended tests with dates and results. This information is vital, primarily to those of us with diabetes, and secondarily to our caregivers, to diagnose and track the common problems that occur with diabetes. In many cases, your record will be more orderly and complete than the one in your medical chart. Because it isn’t uncommon to change physicians, your record keeping takes on an even greater importance.
The important issues are listed below and discussed in my book in detail:
How Often Should You Be Seen by a Physician?
If you are currently on insulin therapy, your physician should see you approximately every three to four months. If you are not on insulin, you should be seen approximately every three to six months. The frequency of visits depends on how well or how poorly you are doing and on whether you have your diabetes in control. When you visit your physician, be prepared to discuss your most important concerns.
What Should Happen at an Office Visit?
The standards of care require that certain basic procedures be done at an office visits. These include taking measurements of weight and blood pressure, discussing home blood glucose monitoring results and laboratory values, such as A1Cs, which should be drawn a few days before the appointment. A foot exam is also in order, especially if the patient is experiencing a problem or has any loss of sensation (neuropathy).
What Tests or Exams Should Be Done Annually?
Certain tests and exams must be done every year, if not more often, in order to initiate aggressive therapy when needed to avoid the complications of diabetes. A yearly cholesterol panel (HDL, LDL, triglycerides), a test of how your kidneys have been affected by diabetes (urine test for microalbumin, for example), and thyroid levels are a few of the important tests. The yearly dilated eye exam is a must for all people with diabetes and, depending on your other medical problems, you may need to see an ophthalmologist, cardiologist, podiatrist, dentist, stomach specialist or other medical specialists on an annual or more frequent basis.
What Should Be Discussed With Your Caregiver?
Don’t go to your doctor’s office with a list of questions that is half a mile long! This will put the usually overscheduled doctor immediately on edge. Decide which issues are the most important to you. Try to do your homework first and learn about the topic of the question so that you can get the most out of your office visit. Again, this is like going to an auto mechanic for a particular problem; if you know a little about cars and how they work, you will understand the mechanic’s explanation of what is wrong with your car a lot better.
Write Up Your Own Diabetes History Sheet
It’s helpful to have a basic information sheet about your medical history. Much of your medical history does not change and is easy to update periodically. You can then bring a copy of your medical history, along with your diabetes warranty program sheet, to any healthcare professional, such as your dentist, physician, nurse or pharmacist. Having your history already written up can save time for other important issues that arise during your appointment. You should record your medical problems, when they started, what medications you have tried in the past and what you are taking now. Be sure to list any allergies and any surgeries and diseases or conditions that run in your family.
How to Ask Your Caregiver for an Exam or Test
If a test or examination has not been done that is needed to comply with your diabetes warranty program, you should discuss this with your caregiver and request the test or examination. Phrase your comments and questions constructively and not aggressively. For example: “Would it be possible to check my cholesterol levels at my next visit? My last values were done over a year ago, and I am concerned about them.”
You must work with your caregiver in order to maintain your health and quality of life. Staying healthy is much easier when preventive measures are taken early. This is what taking control of your diabetes is all about.
Dec 1, 2004
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.