Wednesday, November 1, 2023
CMO Message: Diabetes Awareness
What does it mean to have diabetes?
Your physician can give you a textbook answer that having diabetes means that your body is not able to produce enough insulin or use the hormone effectively, leading to elevated blood glucose levels.
The real answer to what it means to have diabetes can only be answered by someone who lives with the condition everyday. Feeling alone and scared, the sensitivity in your fingers after multiple fingersticks a day, stress over getting your A1c checked, and the challenges of trying to improve your lifestyle are common in the daily lives of people with diabetes. But these topics are rarely talked about with medical professionals.
Through your own trial and error of how to live better with diabetes, you have become your own expert on how to manage your blood glucose levels. You found the best tasting low-carb alternatives. You figured out that simply walking after meals can dramatically reduce your blood glucose levels. You learned that saying “no” to extra responsibilities so you have more time for yourself actually helps your A1c. These are the practical tips that can only be learned through experience.
The best advice for how to manage daily life with diabetes doesn’t always come from your care team, but rather a peer who knows what it’s like to also live with the condition. For this reason, UnitedAg has launched a special series of events called Health Forums where members with firsthand experience with a condition come together to share their stories, struggles, and practical tips. Through these Health Forums, we hope to build a community that is stronger together. Stay tuned as we announce the next set of Health Forum topics and how to sign up!
- How can I get a free glucometer and testing supplies?
Everything you need to monitor your blood glucose on a daily basis - including a glucometer, lancets, and test strips - is included in the Livongo program at no additional cost to UnitedAg members. When you need more supplies, you can easily order them for free through the Livongo app or directly through the glucometer. Livongo will monitor your blood glucose readings and help you in situations where your levels are too low to high. You can sign up for Livongo here.
- If I have diabetes, how often should I be checking my blood glucose levels and A1c.
How often you need to check your blood glucose levels can depend on many factors such as the severity of your diabetes and whether or not you take insulin. For most people with diabetes, the number of daily blood glucose checks could range from just once a day to seven times a day. Ask your doctor about how often and when you should be checking your blood glucose levels. A1c - a blood test that checks for your average blood glucose over the last 3 months - should be checked at least every 6 months if your diabetes is under control. You may need more frequent A1c checks if you are changing medications or if your level is elevated.
- What coaching resources does UnitedAg offer to help me manage diabetes?
Sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and stress management are all key lifestyle areas that can improve your blood glucose levels. Knowing where to start and how to go about making lifestyle changes can be challenging but you don’t have to go through it alone. UnitedAg members have access to bilingual comprehensive lifestyle coaching through the Health & Wellness Clinics at no additional cost. In addition, Teladoc also offers nutrition counseling as well as emotional health support that can help you better manage your health.
- If I have diabetes, do I have to be on medication?
Many people with diabetes are able to reduce their blood glucose medications but it requires long-term lifestyle changes and close supervision from your doctor. If decreasing or getting off your diabetes medications is something you are interested in, talk to your healthcare provider to understand whether this is an option for you. Do not make any changes to your medications without first coming up with a plan with your physician.
- Rosemary Ku, MD/MBA/MPA