I have been on shot therapy since 2007. Before that I used a pump but we didn’t get along because I was out of control with my diabetes at the time. I do well with shots so I stick with them for now. These tips apply with taking insulin by shots or a pump.
There are a few things I have to constantly remind myself of when taking insulin. Things that make everything go more smoothly.
So I’m going to share 5 Things to Remember if You Take Insulin:
1. Read the pamphlet of information about your fast acting insulin or ask your doctor to find out how many minutes it takes your fast acting to start working.
Mine takes about 15 minutes. So test well before eating a meal and then give your insulin some time to start working. If my sugar is 100 before a meal, I give it about 10 minutes to start working, less if my meal has a lot of fat or slow moving carbs like legumes. If my sugar is 150, I wait about 25 minutes before eating. This isn’t a hard rule, and I don’t recommend you do exactly what I do. I recommend that you figure out how long it takes your insulin to start working and then give it some time before digging into your meal. Ideally, when the carbs in our meal start raising our blood sugar, our insulin will be there to cancel it out. If you don’t do this, chances are you will start causing your sugar to climb and then the insulin will have a late start and have a harder time pushing down your higher blood sugar. End result? Post meal blood sugar levels that leave you assuming your insulin dosage for your meal wasn’t accurate. But, maybe it was accurate. Maybe you just didn’t time things right.
2. Every time you give insulin a certain amount isn’t going to be properly absorbed by the body. And that certain amount is random and unpredictable. This means that if you want more consistency with blood sugars, being careful with carbohydrates, particularly those in starchy processed foods is your best bet. I’m not saying eat low carb, just saying that it’s impossible to always give the perfect amount of insulin. Knowing this helps me plan meals and check any extra guilt and frustration at the door.
3. If you take a long acting insulin, find out how many hours it lasts. You may be surprised to find that a 24 hour insulin isn’t exactly 24 hours but a little less than that. Knowing this, you can predict when your blood sugars may begin to rise and counter that with a little exercise or fast acting insulin.
4. Find out how long your insulin lasts once opened and then get rid of it when that time comes. Otherwise you shouldn’t be surprised when blood sugars seem inexplicably off. I sometimes use my insulin a little longer than I should to save money. And I pay the price. But I do so knowingly and I share this so that no one pays the price out of just not being aware. So arm yourself with knowledge and then try to make a wiser choice than me.
5. Last but not least, when it seems your insulin just isn’t working, don’t go more than a week without trying to figure out what’s going on. Try changing the bottle. Check and see if you have any infections or chronic pain happening. Make sure you’re not allergic to your insulin and report any strange aftermath on your body where you gave insulin. If you’ve ruled that out, check your body for any dark brown markings that often indicate insulin resistance. Ask your doctor about them if you have them.
Me? I shun all processed foods and make sure I’m eating well and getting exercise. Usually reducing my carbs a little and doing exercise at least 3 times a week helps greatly to get my insulin working well again. Maybe I’m susceptible to this because I have a lot of type 2 diabetes in the family but either way, I try not to go long with insulin that doesn’t seem to be working well. For me it’s usually insulin resistance and it’s a sign I need to tweak my lifestyle a bit. I’ve even gone “raw” for a week or two to get back on track. The longer you deal with high blood sugars, the worse you’ll feel and risk down spiraling somewhere hard to climb out of so get to the bottom of consistent and inexplicable highs ASAP so you can feel better sooner rather than later. Too busy in your life to do this? Just remember, diabetes comes first because it damages every cell in the body. And before you let that get you down, just think, you and I have some measure of control over our diabetes right? Let’s take advantage of that!