What to bring to my next diabetes appointment??

We get asked these questions so often and even more frequently people come to their appointment without all the right tools. Imagine going to see your optician and leaving your glasses at home or arriving at soccer practice without your boots…you get the picture. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease and requires individual fine-tuning of your disease and medication in order to achieve the best possible results.

The new SEMDSA (Society for Endocrinology and Metabolism and Diabetes of South Africa) guidelines have just been released and include in them guidelines for all practitioners dealing with diabetes as to what the basic standards of care should be, what medications are recommended as well as what is expected from the patient.

Regular testing of your blood glucose level is imperative in order to understand how your body reacts to different stressors and events during the day. It is also necessary to see how your body reacts to different foods as everyone is slightly different. It is not necessary to physically record these levels any longer as most glucometers store this information and your health care practitioner will be able to download the information and draw wonderful conclusions from the data. So please take your glucometer with to your appointment! And please test your sugars regularly!

pillsThe next bit of important information is all those tablets, pills, capsules, vitamins, injections, creams, ointments and potions that you take on a daily basis. Even if they are “natural” products, they may well still have a significant interaction with other medications or even foods and your doctor will need to know this. You wouldn’t want to drink oxygen nor do you consider hydrogen to be particularly refreshing but together they form a particularly powerful combination for a refreshing drink – that is, if combined correctly! Exactly the same happens with your medication – so please bring it all with as there are many “small, white tablets” in the pharmacies.

Invite your spouse, parent, child, neighbour to accompany you. Diabetes is not a disease that we need to live with alone. It is a condition that affects those who live with us and around us and two pairs of ears are always better than one! Diabetes is about education and learning and understanding so the more people who are aware of it, the better.

And lastly, please leave your fears and anxieties at home. You are not the first person who has cheated by eating a slice of chocolate cake nor the first to forget to test regularly. Your health care provider WANTS to help and have all the information at hand. Let’s work together to empower each other and make diabetes just another word for “healthy living” rather than a condition to be feared.