Tag Archives: checking blood sugar

Do you make these 7 mistakes with your diabetes?

      The following can be very costly if you are a woman with diabetes.  I know they are mistakes because I’ve personally committed each and every one of them and suffered the consequences. 

1.  Forgetting to check blood sugar.

Find a way to remember to check at least 5 times a day for two weeks and it will be ingrained as a habit and something you are unlikely to forget.  I bought a watch with alarms that went off every hour.  Every time the alarm went off it triggered me to ask myself, “do I need to check my blood sugar?”  It worked great during my pregnancy

2.  Guessing as to what blood sugar levels are instead of checking and knowing what they are.

No matter how sure you are that you know what your blood sugar is by feeling it, you will sometimes be wrong.  This often leads to a severe low or high-one that can be avoided by just taking 10 seconds to check blood sugar. 

3.  Not rotating insulin shot or pump infusion sites.

I have so much scar tissue from not having rotated my pump infusion and injection sites which in turn impedes insulin absorption.  Oh and it also makes my arms seem thicker-something we women do NOT appreciate at all.

4.  Eating too much on the insulin pump just because it is so easy to hit those buttons.

I gained weight when I switched to the insulin pump after 7 years of using simple syringes.  7 years later I switched back to shots and lost weight.  If you get too tempted to snack because giving insulin is so convenient, think twice about staying on the pump.  Extra weight hurts us diabetics in more ways than one.

5.  Skipping yearly doctor visits.

Do make sure you get your eyes checked each year as well as your feet.  Also get your blood tested for the A1c and have your lipid profile, liver, and kidney functions tested.

6.  Being envious of non-diabetics.

Since this hurts more than helps you, try to limit to 5 seconds and then move on.  Feel grateful for insulin and the technologies which created the pump and the meter and be happy to be alive.  A hundred years ago your story would have been very different.

7.  Eating too many carbs.

This complicates your ability to control blood sugar.  If you are a type 2 diabetic, carbs are your worst enemy.  Try reducing the amount of carbs you eat by a small amount every week so you don’t feel the change so drastically.  Read more about why low carb is best for diabetics.

Like I said, I have been there, done that.  By avoiding the mistakes on this list I quickly lost weight, greatly improved my A1c, and made my life easier and much happier in general. 

You can, too!

Must read book if you are a diabetic

1bernsteinThe book is called, Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution by Dr. Richard Bernstein.

He has had type 1 diabetes for many many years and became a doctor in his late 40’s.  He did this because he learned a lot living with diabetes and turned his health around and the only way to publish what he learned and be listened to was to become a doctor.

When I heard about this doctor I thought to myself…”He should really know what he is talking about for he actually has the disease.”

I was right.  The book recommended almost everything I had discovered the hard way throughout my 15 years with diabetes except he lays out a precise management plan for normal blood sugars. I’m in the process of adapting to his protocol.  The top ideas I would recommend you from this book are the following:

1.  “The Law of Small Numbers”

Each time you administer insulin there is a certain margin of error regarding absorption.  Sometimes more gets absorbed by the body than other times.  If you eat low carb, you give less insulin.  This lowers that margin of error considerably.  So, hours after you’ve given insulin, instead of being “off” by a lot, you chance being off only by a slight amount every time, improving your overall glucose control.  I found this out on my own and was so happy to see it affirmed in this book.  Conclusion?  It truly makes life easier to omit most carbs.

2.  Frequent blood sugar checks

Dr. Bernstein recommends 5-7 checks a day.  This is assuming you have some sort of routine way of doing things.  I will go ahead and assume if you don’t have a routine about your day, you need to check  your sugar even more frequently.  I typically monitor 8-10 times a day.  Notice that this is because currently I have a very unusual schedule-I take care of my newborn twin infants round the clock and can only sleep and eat when a miracle opens a small window of time.  This hectic schedule calls for extra monitoring.  If I only checked 4 times in a 24 hour period I’d end up in the ER very soon from a low or I would eventually suffer the consequences from too many highs.  I prefer checking more often thank you very much.

3.  Exercise

This simply applies to all human beings.  We all require exercise.  Period.  If you have type 2 diabetes, your health will improve dramatically by exercise.

4.  Normalizing blood glucose levels heals you

This one is great.  Dr. Bernstein was falling apart.  His health was in shambles and by normalizing his blood sugar levels he literally reversed the overwhelming majority of the damage that occurred during many years of terrible glucose control.  Let us take a look again at that word: reversed.  I at one point suffered a year of annoying leg cramps as a result of getting my blood sugar back on track.  The pain was caused by my body repairing itself.  Finally when those leg cramps disappeared, so did all of the neuropathic pain in my feet.  Look out 4 inch heels!  Very exciting to say the least.

5.  You don’t need to use alcohol swabs prior to an injection or finger prick

I have only used alcohol swabs when in public for other people’s sake.  People tend to relax when they see you “sterilizing” (although alcohol doesn’t sterilize the skin).  Anyway, apart from those instances I never use alcohol to clean my injection site or finger stick site.  No harm ever came as a result in all my 15 years with diabetes.  Dr. Bernstein sets the record straight as a doctor telling us that no, you don’t need to use alcohol.  So save yourself the hassle and just stick or inject away!

6.  Unless you are obese or use large amounts of insulin, stay away from insulin pens

Insulin pens do not allow for quarter unit doses.  For many people, this means rounding up or down and either getting too much or not enough insulin.  I once used a pen that didn’t even provide half unit increments.  This was very annoying.  I had to try to pull the needle out real fast so that a small amount of insulin would come out as a I pushed the insulin in.  I definitely don’t recommend this unreliable method.  Soon after my trial with the pens I switched to simple reliable syringes and haven’t looked back since.

7.  Use glucose tablets to control low blood sugars

Dr. Bernstein recommends that anytime your sugar is low you use glucose tablets instead of candy or juice or some other form of fast acting sugar.  This was hard for me but, I do get the logic behind it.  His reasoning is this:  glucose tablets work faster AND they are always going to provide you the same measurable amount of carbs whereas sometimes with juice or candy you may overdo the amount (because mmm candy is good!) and subsequently suffer from high glucose after your low.  I know this has happened to many of us.  It sure has happened to me.  When I practice this rule, I do avoid a high blood sugar reading after the low reading, every single time.

So there they are.  For type 2 diabetics:  Dr. Bernstein’s book talks a lot about issues which would help you as well.  He goes into type 2 medications which I don’t know much about.  So for ANY diabetic, I definitely recommend you read this book!

Diabetes and your job; keep it a secret?

Personally, I´ve never agreed with doing this. I understand the fear one might have about the employer or coworker knowing this fact. Perhaps you worry that your boss will think you are weaker because of your condition. Or maybe you don’t want coworkers to start “he or she is too sick to take on that responsibility” type of rumors.

I believe thes risks are not as great as the risks you will be taking by NOT being open about your diabetes. First of all, there is a risk you won’t take care of your diabetes well enough if you are hiding it. Sure, you can give your insulin shots in the restroom. But, what if you drop a syringe one day and a coworker sees it? It would be much worse to have THAT rumor going around. If you have an insulin pump, you have just given yourself the daily headache of properly hiding the pump and its tubing. I guess you would also turn off the beeping feature (which I always found helpful).

Also, consider the unfortunate event in which something happens to you? What if you pass out from a low or high blood sugar? In any case, coworkers would call 911, but if they don’t know you are a diabetic, precious time will be lost with the medics as they, (hopefully) check for a medic alert of some sort (assuming you wear one) or do all the routine testing to find out what is wrong with you. In the case of a low blood sugar, you may not have much time.

Now you may be thinking, “I’ve never been unconscious and plan to keep it that way”. Alright, well your goal is not just to “never end up in the ER” but, to maintain the best blood sugar control possible. If you can’t check your blood sugar at your desk or work space, freely and when needed, then you will be cheating yourself from the great control YOU DESERVE.

Remember, you must put yourself FIRST. You can’t help anyone very well anyway if you are feeling sick because your glucose is too high or low.

I have always revealed my condition to employers. I let them know (typically AFTER hire) that I am a type 1 diabetic, that I usually maintain very good control, rarely need assistance from others, and work harder than most because having diabetes has taught me hard work, diligence, and perseverance. Don’t tell them it is an awful disease which is the bane of your existence (even though it may be). Instead, be positive, smile, and let them have no doubts about you.

If the case for you is that you do not maintain good control and sometimes do need assistance from others, then say what I say anyway and begin a new slate for yourself, striving each day to do better and better. Saying you will do something to someone gives you more pressure to do so. (As long as your work is not the type where people’s lives are in your hands)

After a few months at a job, working hard and proving yourself worthy of the work you do, people will come to admire you for the two jobs they see you handle so well.

Test for blood sugar, how to do it in public places


Testing your blood sugar in public requires 2 important elements.

First of all, in order to not offend anyone (say, at a restaurant) you will want to place the meter on your lap instead of the table people eat off of. Also, when testing in public, use alcohol swabs. Someone getting a glimpse of this will think “sterility” and any fears they might have will be relieved. Let’s face it, you must test your blood sugar and removing any obstacles, such as worrying about what people think will ensure that you do what you gotta do.

When I am at work, I test on my lap as well. I work at a desk with a 1 ft high joke for a cubicle wall (no privacy). I test quickly, looking up while the meter is counting down, remaining discrete. A few months ago a coworker asked me if I knew anyone with diabetes and I told him I was a diabetic. He said, “Oh well, not the type where you test your blood and give shots right?” I was absolutely floored! I’ve been working NEXT to this guy for about a year and openly test my blood sugar and give injections numerous times at my desk every day and he hasn’t noticed? I asked him if he ever had seen me do any of these things and he said, “nope, really? You bleed at your desk?” So there. I think sometimes we are a little more worried than we need to be about taking care of ourselves in public.

Now for the second and most important of the two elements which will provide you the motivation to test whenever and wherever: Confidence. You need to be proud that you are taking care of yourself even if it means subjecting yourself to public reaction. If they see that you are not looking around all worried or paranoid and are looking up at them, perhaps flashing them a smile they may smile back and look quickly away. They might think to themselves, “Wow, I wonder why that woman has to do that, she seems happy”.

I have made sure I’ve portrayed confidence (whether I have felt it or not) and I have done my best at being polite and discrete. Yet, since regaining good control, I have never sacrificed my health for what people might think. I have found that using these two techniques have elicited certain remarks from people like, “You seem like you take very good care of yourself.”  I love hearing that because I do want to take good care of myself and I want to look like a healthy person doing my best to control my diabetes.