Managing the Holidays as a Nurse with Diabetes

Managing the Holidays as a Nurse with Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month and while many nurses know the exceptional challenges their patients with diabetes face, some know the obstacles personally.

As a nurse with diabetes, taking care of yourself is extremely important. And while managing diabetes is 24/7, the holiday season can be especially difficult. Nurses have seen patients go through all the ups and downs of this disease including trying to keep blood sugar levels within range when faced with holiday dinners and parties. Add some pressure from family and friends (both well-meaning and some that’s just uninformed) to “just try a little” of each and every buffet dish and getting through the holidays while trying to manage a disease that varies based so much on food is exhausting.

Both the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recognize this month with tips and information to keep yourself healthy. But as a nurse, you can share your experiences to help your patients and sometimes even learn from what they say.

The holidays make things difficult. You’ve got additional responsibilities – from cooking to gift buying to volunteering to hosting – and all the changes those new tasks bring about. Staying with your normal routine can help, but that’s not always possible. Planning ahead and developing strategies will help keep you on an even keel.

If you shop for gifts, you often have to manage that with your normal work and family duties. And if your time to get all that done hits during a mealtime, you have to be prepared and think ahead. Are you going to grab something quick, eat at a restaurant, or pack something to bring?< And what about all that holiday food? You probably know what you can and cannot have, but it helps to plan ahead. Think about the coming weeks and what you might consider worth splurging on. Is it your neighbor's cheesecake? Your coworker's lobster bisque? Planning can help you make adjustments around things you don't normally eat. Running around through all those errands, parties, and visits can also cause you to get dehydrated faster than normal, so pack a water bottle or flavored seltzer for the car and make sure you just keep sipping. If work gets crazier, the one thing you can't neglect is your own health. Make sure you stop to check your blood sugar and assess how your body is feeling periodically throughout the day – even on those crazy days. Try to get enough rest, if not enough outright good sleep. Often in short supply, a good night's sleep isn't always going to be possible. Sometimes it's worth it (a special celebration) and sometimes it just can't be avoided (overtime), so making careful calculations to at least get some rest when logging seven or eight hours is not in the cards will help your body stay on track. Lastly, as spirited as they are, the holidays cause extra pressure for most of us and downright sadness and melancholy for some. Try to keep stress at bay by being aware of it and trying out some things you find relaxing when you can. Listen to soothing music or a great podcast during all that driving around from store to store. Catch up on your favorite show while you are marathon cooking. Spend some time outside just to ejoy the sunchine and fresh air. Move as much as you can. When you find some tactics that work to help you control your diabetes during the holidays, keep with them. Not all things work for all people, so if your approach works for your own life, your holiday season will be that much healthier.

National Diabetes Month – An Opportunity for Awareness

National Diabetes Month – An Opportunity for Awareness

With nearly 30 million people nationwide living with diabetes nationwide, it’s no wonder that the disease is a national issue. But diabetes hits racial and ethnic minority populations especially hard, so it’s helpful to take the time to help your patients who might be more vulnerable to diabetes.

November is designated as National Diabetes Month – a great opportunity to remind patients with diabetes of the importance of self-care and consistent medical care. But it’s also an opportunity to speak with patients who don’t have the disease but are at a higher risk for it about prevention and being alert to any trouble.

Because it’s silent, many people don’t take the potential complications from diabetes seriously enough until it’s too late. Urging all patients to keep their blood sugar in check is essential, but according to the FDA, minority populations also need to know that their heritage can put them at an even greater risk of not only having diabetes, but also experiencing more severe complications and having worse outcomes.

According to CDC survey results, Hispanic or Latino adults and non-Hispanic or Latino black adults have a 13.9 and 13.8 percent of the population with diabetes compared to 6.6 percent for non-Hispanic or Latino white populations. With such a disparity, it’s clear that education and care are crucial to keeping diabetes symptoms in control.

As usual, discussions about healthy habits like eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, stress management, and being monitored for any problems or complications can’t be neglected.

Easy enough, but every nurse knows that patients often hear what they want to hear. Or maybe they hear it, but their cultural expectations or beliefs, living situations, or other barriers interfere with what they need to do.

This month, take the extra time to dig deeper and find out what your patients might have getting in the way of good diabetes management or self care in general. Do they have access to fresh foods? Transportation to doctor’s appointments? A comfortable, quiet place to sleep? Are they experiencing any pain that’s keeping them from exercising?

By asking a few more questions, you might be able to uncover important information that can give you insight into your patients’ lives and can help you find solutions for them. You might not be able to fix everything, but if you can fix something, it can be an enormous help. And when a patient feels listened to, the trust you build is especially valuable.