Breaking Bad Habits

| Jun 4, 2012

When dealing with a chronic illness, especially one like diabetes that requires 24/7 attention, it's easy to take shortcuts and fall into bad habits.  Ask yourself the following questions to find out if you might be drifting into a few diabetes bad habits:

Haven't changed your lancet since Bush was president?  Hopefully that isn't the case, but a running joke in the diabetes online community is "You mean you're supposed to change those?"  I used to change my lancet so rarely that I'd end up using a dull instrument for days or weeks on end, but I've found that changing it more often helps me draw blood more easily, less painfully, and with far fewer germs.

Relying solely on how you feel to judge your blood sugar level?  When I guess my blood sugar before I test, I'm often not far off the mark.  So in the past, especially when I've been low on test strips, I've gone by how I feel instead of using the cold hard facts on my blood sugar meter.  That's a bad idea.  It's important to actually test your blood sugar because feelings can be way off.  For me, it's easy to confuse a low blood sugar with an adrenaline surge or nerves because I shake and get that fluttery feeling with both.  We've all been surprised at an extreme low or high when we test. The only way to ensure safety is to test.

Think that cheesecake slice has only 50 carbs?  You'll probably end up wondering what happened when your blood sugar skyrockets or plummets after indulging.  How many of us have thrown a package away without remembering to look at the carbs per serving?  Instead of "eye-balling" carbs, take the time to look up the amount of carbs so that you can avoid rollercoaster blood sugar effects.  Most restaurants have the information available, and, while it's true that even these numbers aren't foolproof, it's worth taking the time even if you are a self-proclaimed carb-guessing master.

Haven't moved from the sofa since you made those resolutions in January?  It's gorgeous outside in many areas, so now is a great time to get some fresh air and walk, jog, or ride a bike.  My husband and I love to go to a nearby park and play Frisbee or throw around a ball.  Now is the best time to change your workout habits. An expensive gym membership is not required--just let nature be your playground.

Eating too many processed high-carb munchies?  Is there anyone who isn't guilty of that one?  Try shopping at the farmer's market.  You'll likely be amazed at what you find there.  My local outdoor market offers lots of low-carb goodies like spicy pickles, fresh veggies, dips, artisan cheeses, and olives.  It's fun to try new things.  These markets are usually reasonably priced, and they keep me from getting bored.

Putting off that doctor appointment?  We are all busy, and no one enjoys doctor appointments.  Although seeing so many different doctors and specialists is time-consuming, finding an issue early can save you from unnecessary suffering.  I've felt silly for waiting before, especially when a diabetes-related worry turned out to be nothing.

Managing diabetes can be overwhelming and easily lead to bad habits.  Try working on your bad habits one at a time. I know I am.  We are worth it!

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes Health, Exercise, High Carbohydrate Diet, High/Low Blood Sugar

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Posted by Anonymous on 8 June 2012

After 52 years of being diabetic, I've learned an awful lot about my disease. When I nearly died at age 8 and was diagnosed I was sent home from the hospital armed with a daily insulin, glass syringes and huge stainless steel needles (dull and painful!) that had to be boiled to sterilize and re-use, and a container of urine glucose test strips. It was possible to get a blood glucose test, once or twice a year I'd go over to the hospital to get blood drawn, then get the result in 3 days! I was on that same regimen until I was 28, although I was able to get disposable syringes when I was in high school. There were even ketone urinalysis strips by then. It's a wonder I survived my crazy college and post-college years!

I've learned that even tho' I used to be able to guess my blood sugar within 5 points, that hasn't been the case for several decades. Now I have no idea what my bG is without testing. I only have a minor symptom of very low bG when it gets down to around 50 or lower, a bit dangerous to say the least! Very high bG can happen surprisingly quickly, without any symptoms until scary heights have been reached! Consequently, I test 8-10 times a day, more often if things seem to be getting out of control or I'm in unfamiliar circumstances. The major problem is getting and affording all those test strips! The insurance industry has established that no diabetic should need to test more than 4 times daily! So getting a prescription for what I need is like pulling teeth. Talk about the hoops they make you and your health care provider jump through...I won't go into the horror stories of my experiences. Every 3 months the hoops go back up and it's time for the circus. What's wrong with this picture????? Every month they send a newsletter advising me what I should be doing to make sure my diabetes is well-controlled.. WITHOUT any mention of bG testing. My A1c is 6.2 and has been better. Comparing the times I test 9-10 times daily and when it's 5-6 times daily means an increase of .8 to 1.0 in my A1c.

Twelve years ago I went on a pump because I was tired of injecting 7-10 times daily. It has made my life easier in many ways, and has improved my control as well, although when there's a problem, it becomes a big deal real fast! So, I'm sorry to say it hasn't made frequent testing unnecessary. And the expense of the needed supplies is astronomical.

I've learned that regular vigorous exercise, including weight training, is also critical in smoothing out the highs and lows in bG, and makes me feel a whole lot better overall (not mentioning the periodic soreness from a tough workout:-)) The effect is almost magical! I never skip more that 2 days or I start to slide on the bG's. Doing something every day is still best.

I've learned that being diabetic has numerous health complications. I've lost the vision in one eye completely, and the "good" one is none too good after the extensive laser I had 30 years ago. I'm lucky to have that much. I take the best care of my kidneys that I can, largely by drinking huge amounts of water, regularly a gallon a day in the hot summertime. They are still good and I hope they will stay that way, but I am still aware that kidney disease is probably in my future unless something else gets me first! My heart is in great shape; my cardiologist says I have the healthiest heart he's seen in a woman my age. I've also learned that neuropathy can take many forms besides eye and kidney damage, hyper- or hypo- blood glucose unawareness, and pain or numbness in the extremities. Ever heard of digestive neuropathy? When I have a meal, especially a large one, I get indigestion because my stomach doesn't recognize it's full and needs to process through, causing some acid reflux.

I've learned that when you're diabetic a lot of people don't know anything about the issues you deal with, and figure you just take insulin and everything is ok if you are "good" (definition varies).

I've learned that when you're a diabetic, you mustn't ever take a "day off", or even a few hours, because there's a high price to pay. And no matter how well you play the game, you'll still lose. So the secret to happiness is to deal with it intelligently and think of it as a challenge. I've spent my life doing things that people think I can't because "she's diabetic". It feels great to prove them wrong, besides giving me a great sense of accomplishment for my own sake. General awareness of the public towards diabetics has come a long way in 52 years, with acceptance and at least limited understanding. Happiness is where you find it! No one can give it to you - you can have help searching for it, or have a partner or friends supporting you, but getting it is your job. Small goals accomplished can pay big dividends of health and happiness.

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