How many women sit in the CEO seat? The number is growing, but not nearly equal to that of men. There may be many reasons for this, and one of the possible explanations may be that some women believe that being “assertive” or “aggressive” are traits that are not “likeable” and inconsistent with how they want to be seen. As women, in both our personal and professional life, we need to worry less about what other people think of us and more about what we need. When it comes to our diabetes, we need to be our own Chief Executive Officer – and for some of us, we may need to step out of our comfort zones to get the care we need.
Over the past 30 years of working in the diabetes field, I have seen too many instances when women (and men) with diabetes don’t understand their condition, and sometimes just shrug off the responsibility for managing their health. I have heard statements like “I feel fine” or “my doctor says I have a touch of diabetes” – but then the next question I ask is “what is your A1c?” All too often, the person I am talking to doesn’t know what their A1C is.
First and foremost, every person with diabetes needs to know about their disease and become the expert. There is probably no other disease that requires as much self-management as diabetes, and like a CEO, you need to surround yourself with a capable health care team that you trust, that understands your diabetes, and your concerns.
What are some of the top things you need to know to be in charge?
1) Have a knowledgeable doctor and health care team – that is responsive to your concerns and works with you to achieve your goals.
2) Know your numbers – understand what they mean. This includes blood glucose & A1C targets, cholesterol (HDL and LDLs), blood pressure, and kidney function.
3) Understand the relationship between medications, food, exercise and blood glucose. This is the key to managing diabetes, and by mastering these fine balances, you become more confident and in control of your life.
4) Take your medicines as prescribed. Whether it is an oral pill or an injectable like insulin. Ignoring diabetes doesn’t make it go away.
5) If you doctor (or other health care professional) says something that doesn’t make sense to you – then ask more questions. If it still seems like it doesn’t make sense, you may want to double check the information. Good places to find accurate diabetes information include the websites of the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org), and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org). Patient conferences such as Diabetes Sisters (www.diabetessisters.org), Taking Care of your Diabetes (www.tcoyd.org), and local support groups provide good avenues to talk with experts and others with diabetes.
The good news today is that the drugs and tools to manage diabetes are more available than ever. These include new Type 2 drugs, smart home glucose monitors, easy to use continuous glucose sensors, insulin pumps, and mobile phone aps to help manage your diabetes. It is all there – and you need to become your own expert. Remember, you live with diabetes all day, every day.