Tag Archives: diabetes and testing

On Meter Accuracy and What to Do in the Meantime…

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While I do give my time and energy when it comes to petitioning for better meter accuracy, I also have adopted a few personal safeguards.  These safeguards are like self imposed regulations that I don’t know how to live without.  I used to live without them but there were a lot of close calls.  And sometimes I forego them and scary things happen.

Meters being a good bit off (up to 20% off is it?) is an important issue to tackle, indeed.  But since it’s the reality of our current situation, we might ask ourselves in case we haven’t already, “What can I do about it?”  I’ll share what I do in case in inspires anyone to answer this question for themselves:

It’s been my experience that the further away from 100 my blood sugar is, the less accurate my meter may be.  Well how about that?  My meter and I mutually agree as to what my “target” is.  Just kidding.  Sort of…

Since low blood sugar comes with clearer symptoms for me and is an immediate emergency situation, I don’t question my meter when it says I’m low.  Though, if I don’t feel low at all, I will try jump in jacks and if I have energy for those I will retest because something strange is going on.  Perhaps leftover fruit juice on my fingertips from the apple I had earlier.

When my blood sugar is within my target range I relax, cheer, do a dance, etc.  But I try to have faith in my meter and assume it’s right on.

When my blood sugar is over 250, I retest.  It hurts me to retest because strips are like gold but I do it because this could happen:

Years ago, I tested 350-something.  When my blood sugar is that high, it’s hard for me to bring down so I usually push it down with a larger than usual bit of insulin.  Well, I gave insulin and then stopped.  I thought about how I didn’t feel 350 high.  So I tested again and saw I was 260.  I tested yet again and was 249.  “OK” I thought, “Now I’ve got a heck of a lot of insulin coming my way”.  Sure enough in 40 minutes I was 98 and dropping fast and still had over an hour of active insulin coming.  Nowadays the times that has happened have been handled differently.  I start to eat after 15 minutes to deflect the steep drop.

But better yet, it really doesn’t happen too often because I test twice.  If the second test is really far off from the first, I test a third time and go with the majority rule.  I would never ever test, see a high number, give insulin, and go to sleep.  Our meters are not built to support that level of responsibility.  Not with our lives.  That is a shame, yes, but that’s where our brain comes in handy.  What can we do to help ourselves against this?

Something a lot of my friends do is to eat low or moderate carb.  They have many reasons for eating low or lowish carb but one of the reasons for many of them is that this way, there is usually not a lot of insulin circulating at any given time.  And the food they eat is going to minimize the likelihood for being high enough to see super large discrepancies in their test results.  This works well for me.  In particular, what works well for me is to be careful with processed food.  I find that avoiding it makes my blood sugars more stable and my life easier because I don’t have super high highs.  And then my meter isn’t as big an issue for me as it could be.

But they should totally work on meter accuracy.  Or at the very least give everyone more strip allowance.

Please.

Sticky Fingers = False Highs

 

I know this may seem obvious to many of you.  When you’ve handled something sweet, you wash your hands or wipe your finger before testing right? 

I thought I’d make a short post about this because I didn’t think of this before recently when my husband made me aware of it. 

Ever since, I’ve sometimes seen a 180 or a 200-something on the meter that didn’t make sense because I felt fine.  So I washed my hands and “oh ok, there we go, 120, that sounds better”. 

So maybe I’m not the only one who could go so many years without this info (which yes, is common sense but may still escape us)

Thinking back, I’m sure some of the crazy lows I had in the past could be due to this.  I’d test, see a high number, give insulin, and 15 minutes later be really low and have to treat, and treat again, until finally stabilizing.  I’d think, “wow, that insulin worked fast”.  Pshh.  If only I had known before.

So if you don’t always ensure your fingers are clean, beware of false high readings.  Once you correct with insulin, they turn into scary low blood sugar readings, quite quickly.  If you’ve handled food, try to wash your hands or wipe your finger to be pricked with an alcohol swab. 

And if you see something over 250 and it just doesn’t seem right, test again.  Don’t be afraid of using another test strip.  I once saw a 380, tested again after washing my hands, and found I was 155.  Can you imagine the low I would have had?

10 Thoughts That Run Through Our Heads Way Too Often

 

10.  “Ugh, my blood sugar is high”

9.  “Ugh, my blood sugar is low”

8.  “Where is my meter?”

7.  “Why!?” (referring to number on meter screen)

6.  “I need a diabetes vacation.”

5.  “If only I wasn’t a diabetic…”

4.  “How will my health be in 20 years?”

3.  “Where’s our cure already?”

2.  “They don’t understand”

1.  “Is this <random symptom> caused by my diabetes?”

 

Goshhh, I’d love to have all of this out of my brain :)

Why Testing is Queen and What Docs Should Know

 

Ok, weird title, I know.  Let me make sense of it.  For us type 1 and type 1.5 diabetics and some type 2 diabetics, Insulin is king.  We need it so bad we can’t live without it.  And In my opinion, testing is queen.  We don’t stand a good chance without testing our blood sugars every day.  Just look at what happens to the insulin dependent diabetics in 3rd world countries.  They don’t live very long.  Some don’t get enough insulin and most don’t have a personal glucose meter to use.  They’re blind before blindness sets in.

I’ve long tried to understand why I rarely meet a doctor that is okay with me testing frequently (8-12 times a day).  They have told me “it’s an exaggeration”, “it’s not necessary”, and “four times a day should be sufficient”.  Well, Doctors…it’s not an exaggeration when I say to you, “It is necessary, and four times a day just isn’t as good as 8”.

I wish I could sit down with all the doctors who have felt this way and explain to them a typical day of mine.  I’d include the way I feel when I’m not in range and how it affects the way I do things.  I’d talk about how low and high blood sugars really hurt my quality of life.  I don’t test more than four times a day because I enjoy it.  I have small hands, small fingertips, and I favor two fingers on each hand for testing and believe me it hurts.  Not to me mention how awkward it can be to test in the middle of a dark theater using the small light from my cell phone, hoping no one will notice and get me kicked out or be offended.  I test more than four times a day because catching a 150 before it becomes a 250 is priceless.  Because finding out my blood sugar is 70 before carrying my 25 pound twin babies down three flights of stairs and to the playground is just being safe.  And because I’m the one with the kidney failure, blindness, and amputation risks hovering over my head each and every day. 

No.  I don’t test because I want to, I test because after 16 years I’ve tried it all.  I’ve tested 4 times a day, 12 times a day, and 0 times a day.  And in the end, my blood sugars speak the truth.  They tell me testing more equals better blood sugar management. 

How come famous type 1 diabetic athletes have doctors supporting them when they test 25 times a day?  They’re not more special than the rest of us and even though I’m not trying to win an Olympic medal, I am trying to stay at the top of my game of life.  And I refuse to settle.

I will say, I can have pretty good glucose control with 4 blood sugar tests a day IF I limit variables within my control.  For example, If I do the following: 

-Eat the same exact meals each day, at the same exact times each day.

-Do the same exact amount of exercise and type of exercise at the exact same time each day

-Go to sleep and wake up at the exact same times each day

-Test at the exact same times each day

Now, since many of us can’t or don’t want to live this way, 4 tests a day isn’t going to cut it.  And this doesn’t even begin to mention sick days where diabetics may have to monitor their blood sugars much more frequently nor does it take into account stress and hormone fluctuations that cannot be controlled like a machine.

I used to keep a reasonable amount of routine in my day because it does help avoid unusual blood sugar surprises, but for me personally, and I’m sure many others, every moment is changing and lots of variables come into play.  It’s just not possible.

Another thing:  Why would I be told to test before getting into a car and driving and before each meal and before physical activity and then told to only test 4 times a day?  I’m not too good with math but, even I can see this doesn’t add up.

Dear doctors, insulin dependent diabetes is dependent on quickly adjusting the sails from breezes that come in from all different directions.  Testing is how we adjust the sails.  Insulin is our boat.  We are the captain, and you are our trusted advisor and mate.  Please listen and consider our words.  I don’t like feeling hopeless, like I should just jump ship over some little test strips you won’t let me have.

Friends, if you’re in the same situation as me or if you have a loved one who is or if you care about your fellow diabetics, please read Wil’s important reporting on what the new plans will be for testing supplies and medicare patients and find out what we can all do to help.   Read: The New Minutemen and a Completely Different Kind of Tea Party. 

Endocrinologists, you know better than the General Practitioners and Internists out there when it comes to diabetes and testing and I hope you’ll fight for us on this, too.

I leave you with another enlightening article from Wil over at his blog, please read: Meters Matter.  I highly recommend it to all persons with diabetes and to all doctors.  He gives 10 can’t-ignore reasons why meters matter to all diabetics.

If we choose not to fight for our rights to test as needed, we are starting to see ourselves as undeserving of excellent health and that should never happen.

Latest A1c Results

 

Before last week, my last A1c was a 5.3, taken just at the end of my pregnancy last year.  So after almost a year and a half I was definitely due for the A1c test again.  I know diabetics are supposed to get it done more frequent than that but, I have had a busy year with my twins and feel I don’t absolutely require an A1c telling me what my blood sugars are…my meter does that pretty well.  And since I test a lot, I have a good idea what my A1c is before getting back the results. 

Last week I went to the doctor, a new one I thought I’d try out.  This new doc pretty much let every diabetes stereotype and “no no” slip from his mouth.  For example, he refers to patients not doing well with their diabetes management as his “bad patients”, and he says that “technically, you should only be testing 4 times a day”.  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself and wonder what he meant by “technically”.  I found it ironic that I, according to my A1c would probably be considered a good patient and yet at the same time, by the number of blood sugar tests I do, maybe be considered a bad patient, too?  Why do so many doctors not understand that my testing directly correlates to my A1c and successful diabetes management?

My A1c was once again a 5.3.  I had estimated it to be between 5 and 5.5 and I am pleased to be pretty close. 

Please don’t feel I’m trying to sway you away from getting an A1c done.  I typically get two a year because it is a handy tool and a good back up to the meter (what if it’s off?).  I just like making the point about how important testing is, how it hides no secrets, and how testing during off times like the middle of the night can do wonders to troubleshoot ways to improve blood sugar levels. 

One quick question.  When you get back great lab results, do you get congratulated?  All I got was a “All your labs are ok.”

Gee…thanks Doc…

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