Giving Extra Time to Check Blood Sugar, Insulin Adjustments in Diabetes Self Care

Amylia Grace Yeaman Health Guide
  • While I wouldn't wish my diabetes on anyone, living with diabetes has taught me some new, important ways of being in the world. Much like having a baby may teach folks how to be more patient, or how good it can feel to put the needs of another before oneself, diabetes has taught me such things, as well. While I'm still not the patron saint of patience, I can now wait an extra minute or two and quell some of my impulsive, spontaneous nature in service to a higher cause. I've learned that self-care feels good and that taking good care of my health is not selfish. In fact, it helps everyone in my life. People like getting the best version of me I can give, and that's the one where I'm well rested, well-tested and balanced.

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    Instead of rushing out the door late, I make it a point now to give myself a little extra time to test my bloodsugar and adjust my insulin accordingly. I do this before leaving the house, hopping into the car, walking into the classroom to teach, beginning to exercise, and yes, when anticipating intimate moments, as well. 


    Instead of feeling resentful and angry at my wonky auto-immune system and not-so-hot pancreas, I can be patient with my body as it works hard to level itself out. Sometimes, this means waiting an hour or two before eating a meal my stomach wants right then. Other times it means exercising a little earlier or later than I'd hoped. In certain cases, I might skip the meal or exercise altogether, and focus instead on what will give my body what it needs in that moment.


    There are already so many negative myths about diabetes and diabetics out there. I don't need to go there. We do ourselves a disservice by adding to them. Entertaining persistent thoughts like "I have no freedom-I can't enjoy life anymore!" Or "I can never relax-all I do is count carbs and worry about my bloodsugar!" only makes us feel worse. Plus, knowing how stress and emotions can impact our levels helps create a viscous cycle of negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions.


    When I feel particularly upset over what I call an "unearned high" (a blood glucose reading usually above 150 mg/dl that seems to come out of nowhere-one where I can't figure out why I'm high). My mind reels: What did I eat last night? Did my pump kink?  Did I experience the infamous dawn phenomenon? Is the high due to my cold? My period? My stressful, crazy dreams? The truth is, I don't really know for sure.


    After all, the body is complex and diabetes management is not an exact science. It could be any or all of the above. Or something else I hadn't considered. These are the moments when I am at my most susceptible. The feelings that come up here are the ones I really need to watch. The ones that make me feel like giving up and just diving into a jar of Nutella, or chucking my glucometer out the window and gleefully watching it small to pieces on the ground. These are moments that court us, and the important thing is deciding what we do with them.


  • What I continue to realize and focus on (and why I'm sharing this story) is that we have a choice. No, we didn't choose diabetes. And it's not like we always chose some irresponsible behavior or gluttonous meal and that's why our bloodsugar pushes itself into the stratosphere. Those highs I can deal with. Those highs feel like a trade-off. If I eat a baked potato, I know why I'm 245 mg/dl afterward. If I eat a slice or two of pizza, I understand why I'm on the roller-coaster ride. I get it. Maybe I made a poor choice, but it was mine and I can deal with it.

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    But the "unearned" highs are the tough ones. I feel like I don't control (in any known way) those "unearned" highs. And that stinks. And I have feelings around that. Feelings that don't seem like a choice. I let them come, but don't invite them to stay. Instinctive responses, those first feelings that can flood our minds (fear, frustration, disappointment, concern). The saving grace (for me, anyway) is thatwe get to decide what we are going to do with the information, because that's really all a bloodsugar or A1C result is. Information. Not an indictment of us as people or diabetics. Not a statement of fact about how our day or lives or futures will be. It is information, plain and simple-that will help us, if we let it. The only meaning attached to it is what we give it.


    My new mantra: Information, not indictment. I say it each time I see a number I don't like. And you know what, it helps.


    I had a chance to put this new mindset into practice last weekend (in truth, each day offers multiple opportunities to do so). I'll share the story with you in tomorrow's post. It's one I think many can relate to. For now, try that mantra on for size and see how it feels: Information, not indictment. I picture hordes of diabetics holding up placards and signs with the phrase writ in black Sharpie marker. The folks have smiles on their faces as they walk the street encouraging others to remember it's a number, not a judgment. Information, not an indictment.


    How about you?


    Do you have a mantra or saying you repeat to yourself that works in challenging moments? Leave a comment and tell us what it is-or could be. And let me know how/if this one works for you, too.

Published On: October 04, 2010