September 29, 2010
I have a daily routine of actions I take to manage my diabetes. I check my blood sugar first thing in the morning. I count the carbs in my breakfast and bolus for them. I exercise. These and other actions are so woven into my day that they have become habits that I do without thinking. And that lack of thought, I realize, can become a problem.
This past week I spent 4 days with 7 other people with diabetes (PWDs) at a training session. Despite our attempts to stay focused on the training agenda, our conversations often veered to personal stories about our families and, of course, our diabetes management. I found myself constantly comparing what I do to what they do.
Kate tests her blood sugar 12 times a day. “I want to know what is happening,” she said. I usually check 7 times a day which seems totally lax compared to her 12 times! In reality I have been checking 4 or 5 times a day for the last few months. How, I wondered, had I allowed my volunteering, family activities and travel to override my diabetes vigilance without noticing?
Gary just started on the pump and has been very committed to recording in a log book his blood sugar readings, exercise times and amount of carbs eaten. I haven’t kept a diabetes log book since last November when I started on the pump. My pump and my meter do it all for me; they’re storehouses of information. My pump tallies up the amount of insulin I take every day and stores the time and amount of my boluses. My meter records blood sugar readings and allows me to add comments such as before or after a meal or after exercise. It also provides weekly or monthly averages of those readings. I rarely look at that information on the machine much less download it to my computer. Yet, I can remember studying the numbers and words I had written on my blood-smeared, tattered log sheet last year- it was a very useful, tangible record.
At each meal during the training, we all played “guess the carbs” before giving ourselves a bolus. Does the cup of creamy risotto with cheese have 45 or 60 grams of carbs? What about this raisin, oatmeal cookie? Would you say it has 30 grams of carbs? I think I have ½ a cup of potato salad. Do you think the carb count is 40, 60? I must admit that most of the time my guess was on the low end and it gnawed at me. What a game of Russian roulette we play. If I don’t know the carbs in the food I regularly eat, how can I bolus correctly? Perhaps I am lulled by the ease of using the pump to correct any high reading into being careless with judging the amount of carbs in the foods I eat.
Healthy habits are a good thing. Yet, they’re not when they make us lazy. I realize I need to review my diabetes management plan to ensure I’m not on automatic pilot with my daily habits, that they’re really meaningful and will continue to help me improve my diabetes management and my health. While it may seem a waste of time, taking time to reflect really is an important part of any process. No matter how well things are going, small changes may make what we’re doing even better and help prevent a future problem.
Ask yourself: Have your habits become too routine? Are you still focused on staying educated about new diabetes research, medicines and treatments? When was the last time you logged your blood sugars to look for trends? Getting in a rut is so easy. Take it from me, I know. So let’s commit to reviewing our daily habits and putting our diabetes management first.