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Introduction

You have diabetes. You also have lots of questions.  Why me? Can I still lead a normal life? How will I take care of myself?

It's time to begin learning about diabetes and how you can live with it. You're going back to school. This time you won't be studying math, science, history, or Latin, though you will learn something about each of these as they relate to diabetes. You'll be studying diabetes-what causes it, how you can adapt your life style to it, and how to care for yourself, now that you have it. And you'll be studying life, your life with diabetes.

This handbook is your basic text. It holds the answers to many of your questions, and it's filled with advice to help you manage your diabetes and still do almost everything you did before. Well-meaning people may offer stories, opinions, and advice that could be confusing. Get the facts from your health care-providers and Professor B. Professor B is your instructor for this course. He's shaped like the pancreas, and he wears the letter B to remind you about the beta cells in the pancreas, where insulin is produced in people who do not have diabetes. In people with diabetes, the beta cells either malfunction, or they are destroyed.

Here is what you'll find in this handbook:

  • Chapter 1 What is Diabetes?
    contains diabetes definitions, causes, and history, as well as an overview of insulin, the pancreas, and kidney functioning.
  • Chapter 2 Coping with Diabetes
    offers practical advice for accepting your diabetes emotionally and living with it day to day. Plus Your Guide to Better Diabetes Care.
  • Chapter 3 Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus  
    is a description of Type I diabetes. If you've been diagnosed with this types of diabetes, you'll want to pay special attention to this chapter.
  • Chapter 4 Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus  
    is a description of Type II diabetes. If you've been diagnosed with this type of diabetes, you'll want to pay special attention to this chapter.
  • Chapter 5 Monitoring explains how you can keep track of your blood sugar level to help control your diabetes. It's important that you read this chapter no matter which kind of diabetes you have.
  • Chapter 6 Diet  
    contains information everyone with diabetes needs on a vital component of diabetes control. You'll learn how you can plan meals at home or when dining at a restaurant or a friend's home.
  • Chapter 7 Exercise  
    contains advice on exercise programs for people with diabetes. Whether you have Type I or Type II diabetes, exercise can help keep you healthy.
  • Chapter 8 Insulin  
    teaches you about types of insulin, how to buy and store insulin, how to inject insulin, and how to avoid and treat insulin reactions. If you're not injecting insulin, you can skip this chapter.
  • Chapter 9 Oral Medications
    contains information for people who take oral diabetes pills. If you do not take oral diabetes pills, you can skip this chapter.
  • Chapter 10 Sick Day Management  
    is a guide to diabetes control during illness. Read this chapter carefully so that you know how to cope with illness before you get sick.
  • Chapter 11 Skin and Foot Care  
    lists easy things you can do to avoid some of the most common problems people with diabetes experience.
  • Chapter 12 Complications  
    describes complications associated with diabetes and offers advice on how you can avoid them.
  • Chapter 13 Diabetes and the Family
    presents information and advice for families coping with diabetes. Part I of this chapter explains the special concerns of pregnant women with diabetes. Part II offers advice to parents of children with diabetes.
  • Chapter 14 Traveling  
    offers tips that help ensure safe, healthy trips for people with diabetes.
  • Chapter 15 Research  
    highlights current research activities into the causes and prevention of and potential treatments for diabetes.
  • The Glossary
    defines many of the medical terms that persons with diabetes need to know.

The chapters are constructed to help you learn about your diabetes now, and also to make information available when you need it. Some of the chapters end with a series of questions and answers that may help clear up confusion about information in the chapter. Several chapters lists products for people with diabetes or refer to other publications on diabetes. Your health-care provider can advise you on products and help you locate publications. Finally, there is a glossary of diabetes-related terms at the end of the handbook. The glossary is a useful resource while you are learning about diabetes.


 

Read this handbook carefully. Take notes if it helps you learn. Be sure to write down questions that come up as you are reading, and go over them with your diabetes educator. The more you know about your diabetes, the better control you will achieve. Better control means good health and a long life.

Remember that the care of diabetes is a team effort involving you, your physician, and the diabetes education staff where you receive your medical care. This handbook cannot - and was not meant to - replace this team effort.

This handbook embodies the approach of the diabetes care team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Different diabetes care teams may approach some aspects of diabetes care in ways that differ from those in this handbook.  While most teams are in close agreement regarding the GENERAL PRINCIPLES of diabetes care, they may differ in the DETAILS.  There can be more that one "right" way to approach a specific issue in diabetes management.

Always remain in touch with your diabetes care team, and bring any questions you may have about the materials in this handbook to their attention!