The Doctor says,

Jay Hewitt

| Jan 4, 2010

"You have diabetes."  Have you just heard these words?  Or maybe you recently heard it about your son or daughter.  The oxygen rushes out of your body.  A knot forms in your stomach.  "What now?"

I know that feeling.  I had it 19 years ago and remember it like it was last week.  Today I receive a lot of emails from newly diagnosed adults or parents of diagnosed children, and relive it with each one of them.  They approach me at my speaking engagements.  Their faces are concerned, but courageous.  No doubt already veterans of a few terrifying episodes of hypoglycemia, or days where the blood sugar just will not come down and they cannot figure out why.  They are looking for answers to all of diabetes's mysteries.  Why does this happen?  How do we manage this? What tools do you use?  What does diabetes mean I . . . my son . . .  my daughter . . .  cannot do?  How will this change our lives?  I am honored that my story of racing the Ironman triathlon with diabetes gives them a little comfort.

A few months ago I received an email from a young man in his early twenties who had just been diagnosed the week before.  He was in law school, his first semester exams were the next day, and he was stressed.  No, he was panicked.  He got right to the point.  He wrote, "I am overwhelmed.  I need encouragement.  I need to know that I am going to be okay."  That happens to a lot of students before exams, and to a lot of people diagnosed with diabetes, so he had a double dose of panic serum.

If you have just been diagnosed, or even if you have been dealing with diabetes from a while and sometimes just feel overwhelmed, here are a few suggestions.  I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I have been there before and see many just like you and me all over the country.

You will be okay . . . if you take control.  In fact, you may even be better.  Yes, your life is different now.  You cannot eat what you want without calculating the carbohydrates.  Everyone should eat healthy, but now you must eat healthy, I bet more healthily than you were eating before.  Exercise, healthy diet, weight loss.  Everybody wants to do those things, but can't find the discipline or motivation.  Now diabetes is your motivation, or your intimidation.  Either one, use it.  Diabetes can make you healthier than you were before.

Use technology.  When I was diagnosed in 1991 we were still injecting pork insulinInsulin pumps were like cell phones, big bulky devices and new technology that no one had.  Now pumps are wireless, waterproof, tiny, reliable and programmable to your lifestyle and give us freedom and flexibility to do anything, even an Ironman triathlon.  Long acting basal insulin and insulin pens make injection therapy much easier. Fast acting insulin gets in our system and starts working in 15 minutes so we can eat on our schedule rather than being a hostage to our insulin schedule. Blood glucose meters took 1 minute for a reading in 1991, now they take 5 seconds.  Continuous glucose monitors are now on the market and getting better every year.  Numerous medications for type 2 diabetes will stabilize your blood sugar.   The technology is there for you to control your diabetes and live the life you want to live.  But it is up to you to use it.

Communicate with others.  Diabetes online communities and events are a great way to find answers, friends and peace of mind.  For children, I like, an online community for parents and kids to share questions and information, and they also hold fantastic conferences around the country.  Come hear me at Friends for Life Conference in Orlando in July.  I also recommend kids attend a diabetes camp.  I love visiting with kids at diabetes camps and watch them learn and realize they are just like every other kid.  Diabetes blogs are all over the web, some fun, some serious, for adults and children, men and women.  You are already reading this magazine.  Read, learn and realize that you are not alone.

Develop a routine.  Diabetes is a self management condition.  You must control your diabetes every day, not your doctor, your parents or anyone else in your life.  Find supplies and routines that work for you, foods, exercise, and medication.  Keep your diabetes supplies handy - insulin, syringes, pump supplies, blood sugar meter, test strips, snacks.  Do not be discouraged when some days your routine works beautifully, and the next day gives you unexplained highs or lows.  It happens to all of us.  Just keep going.

Diabetes is a challenge, but you are stronger.  You can do it!

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Blood Sugar, Columns, Community, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Inspiration, Insulin, Insulin Pumps, Jay Hewitt, Low Blood Sugar, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 5 January 2010

My wife also has Diabetes. My research has discovered a help to bring down those pesky levels. Please take a look at Dr.Keller's video and research charts. Copy and paste this URL I am the person in the picture. Thanks- Barry ps. sure does a lot for energy and fatigue

Posted by Anonymous on 6 January 2010

Are there blogs for high school kids with diabetes?

Posted by nancylawlor on 6 January 2010

What have been the experiences others have had with just starting pumps? I am looking at Omnipod, a tubeless device. Is it worth the supply costs and other compromises?

Posted by Anonymous on 6 January 2010

Jay Hewitt is a wonderful motivator. We heard him speak at the last Children with Diabetes in Orlando and because of him... my Type 1 daughter ran cross country at school and my husband did a mini-marathon with his friends! Our new saying was "it's better to try and fail then not try at all"

Posted by Anonymous on 7 January 2010

Coming from a diabetes educator who does not have diabetes....... I think Jay has EXCELLENT advise!!

Posted by Anonymous on 7 January 2010

Jay is a diabetic, diagnosed in 1991 per the article.

Posted by Jay Hewitt on 11 January 2010

Nancy, I've been on injection therapy and insulin pumps both with good results. Whatever fits your life style best. Now I wear the Omnipod insulin pump and really like it. Waterproof, no tube, stays secure and discrete. Thanks for reading. Visit me at

Posted by Anonymous on 11 February 2010

I have had diabetes since i was four years-old. Ever since all of my frieds found out about me having diabetes, they all act as if i don't have it. I do that almost every single day. Nobody picks on me, but that might come on in the future, we i graduate from school. Living with diabetes is really hard, especially if you play all kinds of sports.

Posted by Anonymous on 11 February 2010

I have a pump too. They are not that bad, although, you can get hit in the stomache and have that jam in to you, but for a thirteen year-old it is better than taking shots

Posted by Anonymous on 11 February 2010

What clothes do you think you would have to wear if you were clibming mount Everest?

Posted by Anonymous on 11 February 2010

Waht gear would you wear to protect your pump if you ever clibmed mount Everest?

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