How to be an expert on your diabetes (plus, awesome resources for diabetics!)

 

[picappgallerysingle id=”7282463″]         Master Your Diabetes

 

Here is a follow up to Why diabetics hate going to the doctor and to The professional diabetic.

We’ve established that we all need to be well educated about our diabetes.  So where can you find the right information? 

First off, it isn’t easy.  There are thousands of diabetes resources out there.  Here are the guidelines I’ve used to try to separate the good info from the bad info.

Educating yourself about your diabetes

First, begin with the basics.

You must have a pretty thorough understanding about the following:

Know how the particular insulin you use works.  Find out how long it lasts in your system, how heat affects it, and when it expires.  This information is in the literature that comes with your prescription.  Read it and if you don’t understand something, ask your doctor.

If you use a pump, make sure you understand everything about it.  If you have ANY doubts don’t hesitate to go to the maker of your pump (perhaps their website) and get the information you need.  You might even want to find a local insulin pump educator in your area who can meet with you and answer all of your questions.  You can ask questions on online forums, too.  Just be careful about automatically trusting any/every response you get.

Know your insulin/carb ratio. 

Mine for example, is 1 unit of insulin (humalog) per every 15 grams of carbohydrates.  If you don’t know your ratio call your doctor and work out a strategy to find out what it is.  Typically, the more you weigh and the less active you are, the more insulin you need but, we’re all different so when it comes to figuring out the right ratio for yourself, be careful and get guidance from your doctor.  No guessing.

Learn to count carbohydrates.

This is where a nutritionist or dietitian comes in to help you.  They can teach you all about portions and how to read nutrition labels and how to eyeball carbohydrate content in foods.  You can probably learn a lot about this online, too.  Check out this site and this one.

Know all about diabetes complications and the signs of those complications. 

This is scary but necessary.  Learn about these here.  Or here.  And don’t be afraid but do take the information seriously.  Diabetes is serious.  We can’t get around that.  We have to meet it head on if we want a fighting chance.  When I read this stuff I take deep breathes and take some notes.  Then I do something completely unrelated like listen to music or call a friend.   

Understand how physical activity, stress, and even your monthly period affects your blood sugars. 

Go to your doctor and ask about how each of these might affect your blood sugars.  For me personally (and you may be different), physical activity lowers my blood sugar and lowers my need for insulin.  Stress makes my blood sugars go up and makes me require more insulin.  PMS makes me turn psycho and makes me require more insulin and as soon as I start my period, I have to decrease insulin again.  But, that’s just me and all I can claim to know.  Yet, it helps me out so much to know this stuff about myself so if you don’t know yet, find out.  You’ll see better blood sugars!

Journal to understand your diabetes.

Write down in a journal what you eat, how much insulin you give, and your activities throughout the day.  Make note of major moments of stress or unusual symptoms.  Track what times of the day you have problems with blood sugars and track when you feel good versus bad.  Then after a month or two look back and note any trends you see.  You could show this to your doctor and see what you two come up with.  A wonderful place to to use as a resource is Livestrong.com.  You can register for free and keep an online diary that is truly handy.  It is called My Daily Plate and it lets you track what you eat throughout the day as well as how many calories you’ve consumed and burned.  You can use MyDPlate which will also allow you to track your blood sugars and units of insulin used each day.  You can keep this online journal private or make it public.  Mine is public in case you are curious about how it may look (although I just started so there are just a few days tracked).  To see what I’m eating and how much I’m working out just go to http://www.livestrong.com/profile/SysyMorales/.  Now if I eat a candy bar you can catch me in the guilty act. 

For some info about how I problem solve, read Diabetic troubleshooting method.

Once you know all of the above you can be much better at managing your diabetes and anticipating highs and lows in your blood sugar.  You will also feel more confident with your day to day decisions.  Don’t be afraid of learning all you can about your diabetes and remember that knowledge truly is power

As you learn you can ask your doctor specific questions instead of just telling him/her you don’t know why your blood sugars are high.  Doctors can’t help us much without enough information.  When you understand the basics about your diabetes, you have a much better chance at handling any issue diabetes throws your way.

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