Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I don't need to test my sugar, I can feel what it is"

This picture was taken of me and Dad in our kitchen, right around the time I was diagnosed with diabetes. Back in 1981 there were no blood testers for diabetics. If I had to pick the best new development I've seen in diabetes care it might have to be the blood testing device.

So what did you do before you could test your sugar with a finger stick? You peed in a dixie cup, twice a day, and then dunked a piece of testing tape into it, measuring the color green it turned on a chart. You were hoping for yellow, yellow was good, if there was green then you had to get out the dropper and also test against a large white pill (to test for ketones). When I was this age until I was in high school this is what I had to do, twice a day. This process actually measured sugar that was in your urine, that had already gone through the kidneys. Meaning, when the tape turned green, my sugar had already been high for a few hours. This was also before fast acting insulin, and sliding scales, so there wasn't much you could do to effectively treat high levels yourself, you just knew why you didn't feel so good. LOL. Needless to say by the time I was in junior high I had pretty much stopped testing. I thought I could "feel" what my sugar levels were, and I didn't need to test.

This attitude stayed with me till I graduated college. By then meters were widely available, and I had one, but I still didn't test very often, and my sugar levels at the doctor proved that I really couldn't "feel" what my levels were very effectively. When I got out of college I got a new doctor and she kicked my butt. She changed my insulin, she yelled, she changed my number of injections, and she yelled more. :0) But she scared me enough to get me to test my sugar. And the more I tested the more I saw I couldn't really feel what my sugar levels were. And now, after having the disease for 30 years I have even less feeling for what my levels are. Sure I can feel when they are 50 and I can feel when they are 450, which happens more then I'd like to admit, but the difference between 105 and 150? I can't feel that, and I seriously doubt anyone can. So I test.

These days I test about 4 times a day, sometimes more. I have a tester in my kitchen, in my purse, and in my car. I'm thinking of getting another one for my bedroom. All of them are the same meter - One Touch Ultra. Which is, by far, the best meter I have found on the market. It gives readings in 5 seconds, and it's small. I can carry it in my pocket on a run, I can carry it in a backpack hiking, and I can use it anywhere - even afloat in my kayak. It will freeze (in my pocket in New Hampshire at -3 degrees this past winter it actually froze and wouldn't work) but other then that it's very dependable and easy to use.

Of course testing isn't fun. It does make your fingers sore (always prick the sides of your fingers to help with this) and sometimes it's just a hassle, but don't kid yourself, by not testing you are hurting yourself. Both low and high blood sugars are dangerous and can effect your heart. Is it really worth the risk for 5 seconds of your life?

Testing my blood sugar has by far been the best improvement in my diabetes care in my lifetime. I can now keep my levels closer to optimal levels, which has been proven to greatly reduce side effects. If you are of the mindset that you can "feel" what your sugar levels are, I strongly urge you to test anyway, and test often.

It's 5 seconds of your life, it's worth it!

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