You can't do diabetes alone, right? In this week's edition of our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, your host, Wil Dubois, (veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator) delves into the importance of support from family and friends, and pushing your healthcare team to make sure you're getting the answers you need!

{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

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Sheryl from North Carolina, type 2, writes: Throughout my life I was always thought to be "the strong one" by friends. While I loved being dependable, reliable and the "rock" when others needed help, what I lacked in my life was the option to be vulnerable and the ability to ask for and accept the help of others. My recent bout with diabetes has reinforced this need. There's probably no single answer to this question, but how do you ask for, and accept, the support and assistance of others? I'd just like to hear your thoughts.

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Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Actually, there is one single answer: Be humble. You ask for support and assistance by simply asking for it. Of course, it helps to ask the right people—more on that in a second. But you put your finger on the much harder issue, accepting the help of others, and I think this is especially true for people like you who have functioned as the "rock" for others.

But consider this: Being humble doesn't make you weak. Being humble doesn't change who you are. Being humble doesn't make you undependable or unreliable. We all need the support and assistance of others. We're social animals, after all. And being humble doesn't make you vulnerable, either. All it does is make you wise.

Actually, I think you're halfway there already. You yourself have admitted that you need the help of others. That's a big step. And while that can be true for life in general, it's doubly true for diabetes. Hey, diabetes is a team sport from top to bottom. You can't do this alone. Your doc has help from a wide variety of specialists, educators, nutritionists, exercise folks, dentists, eye docs, and maybe even a shrink. And you need your family and friends on board.

But your friends and family, while they need to be on board at least passively, may not actually be the best people to ask for support and assistance from, depending on their level of willingness and capacity for empathy. The very, very, very best people you can get support and assistance from are others of your own kind.

No one can understand diabetes better than another person who has it. When you reach out to another PWD, even if you don't know that person, you're not reaching out to a stranger. You're reaching out to someone who's walking in your shoes. Someone who understands you. Someone who "gets it." And most importantly, someone who loves you on the basis of your shared challenges.

The other advantage of reaching out to your own kind is that these new folks whom you share so much with don't know your reputation as "the strong one," or the "rock." You can afford to be vulnerable with them. You left your baggage at the door when you entered this new world.

There are lots of places you can find support, especially as a type 2—simply because there are so many more of you than there are of us type 1s. You can start with your doc. Ask if he or she knows of a good local support group. Or you can check in with (not into) your local hospital. Or your church. Or your chamber of commerce.

And if you live somewhere so obscure that you're the only person with type 2 diabetes, and I can't imagine where that would be... Ice Station Zebra?... then may I suggest the internet? We type 1s are great lovers of the internet because it's our home-away-from-home. We're the victims of a genetic diaspora. We're so few and so far spread out that in many places there aren't many of us around. Of course, while most places in the country have type 2 support groups, not everyone is comfortable connecting with other persons with diabetes in person in their own communities for any number of personal or professional reasons, so it's OK for you to connect with your own kind online instead.

One great place to start would be at our partner community Diabetic Connect. Or boot up a browser. Why, all you have to do is enter "diabetic support" into Google to get 41,900,00 hits. Oh. Wait a minute. 40,900,000 of those are for diabetic support socks. Oops. Most of us don't actually need those, but that's a topic for another day.

So, I think you're off to a great start. Admitting that you need support and assistance took strength. Taking that first step to reach out to others will take strength, too.

But I know you can do it. Because you're still the rock.

 

Mark from Indiana, probable person with pre-diabetes (new designation? A PPWPD?), asks: Is a blood sugar of 250 right after a meal normal? I'm not sure I have diabetes, I had blood labs done and my blood sugar was 175, but could not remember if I ate before the test. So I bought a meter to monitor my blood sugar. Oh, and my blood sugar drops back down again after two hours.

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Ummmm... No. Not normal. But how abnormal is an open question, because where your blood sugar be should right after a meal is like one of those "where's Waldo" games (trying to find a needle in a haystack). No one really knows, because for the last umpteen years, the medical research types have been looking for Waldo two hours after a meal, not right after it.

But maybe we can ferret an answer out for you by reading between the lines.

Back in the bad old days, like three years ago, we used blood sugar numbers to diagnose diabetes. Now, we use A1C scores instead. But when we still used fingersticks for diagnosing, this was how the game was played: If you had a fasting fingerstick above 126 mg/dL on two different days, you had diabetes, and we gave you a meter and your official "I have diabetes" T-shirt. Welcome to the club!

Or... if you had two random fingersticks above 200 mg/dL you got the meter and the T-shirt. Random simply meant not fasting, but was generally viewed as two hours after eating. Even further back in the past, diabetes was diagnosed using oral glucose tolerance tests where blood sugar was measured precisely two hours after drinking medical Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, if you had two fasting fingersticks between 100-125 you had pre-diabetes, which is sort of like being a little bit pregnant. You also had pre-diabetes if you had two random fingersticks between 140 and 199. Remember, 200 and over with random readings, and you had the Big D. Oh, and if your random was under 140 you were assumed to be "normal."

There were any number of problems with this system, not the least of which was once you had the first 200+ reading, convincing the potential new inductee to our club to come back for the confirming fingerstick was problematic at best. All-in-all, using the A1C is simpler and a slam dunk. The A1C test isn't affected by the Big Gulp the patient drank in the clinic parking lot, meter accuracy, or unusual stress on a given day because A1C measures the average glucose environment of your blood for the past three months. The other good thing about using A1C to diagnose is not having to keep track of all those numbers we just went though. The threshold for diagnosis of diabetes is a single A1C number of 6.5, at which point your average BGL has been 140 for months.

There's than 140 again.

Why? How did 140 get chosen, you ask? You might not really want to know, but it was chosen by expert Consensus Panels again. Actually, as reported by Dr. David M. Nathan, et al, in the ADA's look at postprandial glucose readings, most research into the subject has shown that in non-dFolk, glucose peaks about 60 minutes after eating, rarely goes above 140 mg/dL, and usually returns to fasting levels in 2-3 hours. So if you are still at or over 140 two hours after eating, something is amiss!

About. Rarely. Usually. That's a lot of qualifying words.

Well, in no human endeavor can your mileage vary more than when eating. What did you eat? How fast did you eat it? What time of day did you eat it? How long was it since your most recent meal? And so on and so forth.

Still, if non-dFolk usually peak at no more than 140 about an hour downstream of a meal, and you are hitting a 250 right after eating, it does appear that something is eff'd up. Big time. If you're seeing a 250 right after a meal more than once it would suggest you do have the Big D. That's based on the fact that you shouldn't even peak for about an hour. If you're already at 250 right after eating, you will go even higher. What size T-shirt do you wear, Mark?

It's interesting, however, that your body rallies and your blood sugar comes back down by the two-hour point. Something is eff'd up, alright, but something's working right, too. As to your 175 on your labs, well, if you were fasting, again, that would suggest the Big D. But if you'd eaten that day, it would suggest pre-D.

You should probably hook up with your doc again (not in that way) and just get the damn A1C test run to resolve this once and for all, but in the meantime you can have some fun with that meter your bought. Use it to embark on a voyage of self-discovery. Test regularly at bed time and the next morning and see if your blood sugar goes up, down, or stays level overnight. Test before you eat various meals and at the magic two hours after the first bite to see how much a change there is.

Let us know what you discover!

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.