Wait a minute!
You want ME to keep track of my diabetes? What are you? NUTS? That’s just not going to happen.
Is this you?
It was me, when I was first diagnosed. Oh, I went through the motions of logging my numbers.
But I wasn’t regular or consistent at all. It HURT to prick my fingers and I have this thing about needles. I was sporadic, at best, when it came to keeping track of my numbers.
“See the Light”
Until you stop ignoring the diabetes in your body and “see the light,” you are going to have a very difficult time coping with diabetes. My journey to see the light was long, slow and laborious and not the way you want yours to be!
Lots of Log Books
I’ve used a LOT of log books over the years — this photograph shows just one of each kind of log book I’ve used.
My “See the Light” Journey
My journey through diabetes been a very rocky one, and I’m almost embarrassed to share it with you. But if you are going to ever really understand the value of keeping track of your numbers, then I feel I have to let you sneak a peek into mine. So… here they are: Some of my numbers over the past two decades.
1998 – 2000
As you can see from this page in my log book from 1999, I was horrible at testing. Very simply put, I didn’t do it much at all … usually only once a month!
I very seldom tested those first two years, mostly because I could NOT test on my fingers. It hurt too much and I have a real “problem” — pretty much a full-blown phobia — when it comes to needles being stuck into my body.
Note: The “control test” (marked in blue on this image) was a special solution that was put onto a test strip instead of a blood sample. The meter would “read” the control solution and if the results were around 100, then the meter was working properly and giving accurate blood glucose readings. Today’s meters no longer have to have these control tests to be accurate.
2008 – 2011
In 2009 I started testing more frequently, mostly because I had invested $500 in a brand new technology – a meter that tested on the forearm instead of on the fingertips. My doctor didn’t like it. My current doctor doesn’t like it, either, and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had the following conversation with my diabetes doctors.
“Testing on your arm isn’t as accurate as on your fingertips.”
“You want me to test? Then it’s the arm or nothing!”
Huge sigh from the doctor. “Oh, fine, then. Test on your arm.”
“Thank you. I will.”
And so I do.
My method of keeping an eye on my diabetes numbers has changed dramatically and yes, I’m going to share even more of my tracking journey with you in the hopes that it will help you discover the best and easiest way for you to keep track of your numbers.
Things you can include in your logs
- Definitely keep track of the dates you test
- Write down the time of day you are testing
- Is it a fasting test? (I enter an F next to fasting tests)
- Is it just before a meal? Or 2 hours after eating? (I put P for pre-meal tests and A for after meal tests with a B for Breakfast, L for Lunch or D for Dinner and an S for Snacks. Examples = PB, AL, AS)
- Did you eat something out of the ordinary or just before your numbers spiked or went very low? Write down what you ate. Over time it can help you figure out what foods are best for you to eat (or avoid) when your numbers are high or low
- Did you forget to take your diabetes medications? Write it down and see what happens to your numbers.
- Was there a special occasion? Thanksgiving, a birthday, an anniversary celebration? Write it down.
- Were you sick? (Your numbers might be higher than normal.) Did you exercise? (Your numbers might be lower than usual.) Write it down!
- Are you under extra stress? (Stress can raise your numbers, too.)
How you feel, everything you do and everything you eat can affect your numbers. The more information you put into your log, the better your chances are of figuring out the triggers in your body that cause dramatic changes in your glucose levels.
And then if you are like me…
It won’t matter one bit what you eat or don’t eat, whether or not you are sick or well, if you are stressed or having a great time. Your numbers will be on a roller coaster ride all by themselves — no matter what you do, they are going to swing up and down and do whatever the heck they want to do.
Diabetes can be SO frustrating!
Despite your best efforts to keep it under control, over time your diabetes will almost certainly progress. It will get worse and be harder to control. At first, you might just need to control your diet. Later you will most likely take pills to help keep it under control. When pills no longer work, you will start taking insulin and/or hormone shots (to help the insulin work better in your body).
Despite your best efforts, diabetes is almost certain to progress over time
That’s what happened to me. I started on a couple of pills a day along with trying to control my diet. Later, more pills were added, then even more. Some of those pills were found later to be dangerous. I was glad I didn’t take them very long.
Eventually my doctors started telling me I had to take insulin shots.
“NO! I’d rather die.”
And I was dead serious (pun intended). You see, I know what it’s like to be dead, and not only is it not bad, it’s to be welcomed!
Yep. I died!
I was 25 when I died in the hospital, while being prepared for an emergency surgery to repair a tubal pregnancy that had ruptured and I was bleeding internally. (They told me later that I’d lost over a quart of blood internally.)
In the Xray room while being prepared for surgery, I found myself floating above my body. In the wheelchair below, I could see that my head was lolled over to one side, and my eyes were closed. A male nurse yelled, “We’re losing her!”
I said, “No you aren’t. I’m right here.” (But no one heard me.) I could see a nurse run over to a cabinet behind me, (which I could not possible have seen from my wheelchair) and I watched her reach inside and grab a brown bottle from the second shelf.
I felt absolutely euphoric! I looked down at my poor crumpled up body in the wheelchair and thought, “You poor thing. You are in so much pain. I’m sorry you are hurting so badly.” And I was SO glad I was no longer down there, in the midst of that excruciating pain.
Then that (evil) nurse shoved the bottle under my nose and ZAP! Like my consciousness was on a stretched out rubber band I zapped back into my body — into all that pain. I was FURIOUS. It was an experience I will never forget.
But because of it, I have no fear of death. I will welcome it the day it comes. So I was truly deadly serious when I told my doctors I would rather be dead than take shots.
Two years after being told I needed insulin shots
Eventually I was lucky enough to have a doctor who “forced” me to take diabetes awareness classes — to learn more about this disease that had taken over my body and my life.
Those classes woke me up to the reality of diabetes. I wasn’t going to “just die.” I would probably first suffer with horrible complications of diabetes – like going blind, having horribly painful neuropathy resulting in the loss of limbs, having my internal organs fail (like my kidneys, requiring dialysis for the rest of my life), and on and on and on!
That’s not what I wanted for my “golden years.” So in 2014 I finally gave in to the pressure of my doctor and started giving myself Lantus (insulin) and then, later, Victoza (hormone) shots.
More to keep track of
And now I had even more to keep track of in my log books!
- How many units of insulin was I giving myself each day?
- How much of the hormone Victoza (which helped my body better utilize the insulin)?
- Which side of my stomach was I using each day to shoot myself for each of them?
- When did a pen run out and when did I start a new pen? (Very important so I would know when I needed to buy more pens to avoid running out on a weekend or when I couldn’t get more.)
And about those log books
I felt like a veritable bookkeeper! I’d rather have been a beekeeper, and I’m not that fond of bees.
But those log books didn’t take up much space, so I kept them. ALL of them. All the way back to the very first log book. Why? I haven’t a clue, unless it was because somehow I knew that someday I would be needing them to share my diabetes journey with you. 🙂
I suspect that the majority of people today keep track of their numbers on line in an app, and that’s a much easier way to do it. Most, if not all, blood sugar meters have built-in memories, too, which is a lifesaver for anyone not good about keeping track of their numbers.
Yep, as old and as set in my ways as I am, I have actually found a diabetes app that I LOVE 💕 and I’ll share more information about it with you in another post. My diabetes specialist loves this app, too.
But even though I now use the DiaConnect app, I still like to be able to physically see my numbers without having to scroll around a screen, so I also use an old-fashioned log book.
(Yeah, I know. I need to stop double logging my numbers and use just the app. Somebody give me a good kick in the rear, will ya?)
What you use is not really all that important, as long as you use some method to keep track of your numbers. Unless you are aware of your numbers, you can’t make intelligent, wise decisions about what you should (and shouldn’t) be eating. If you don’t know your numbers, you can’t take any steps to keep your diabetes in control. And if it isn’t in control, your body is being damaged behind your back. You won’t know about it until it’s TOO LATE!
Now that I’ve shared all of this with you, I hope you also have “seen the light.” Watch your numbers and record them. It will help your doctor make the best medical decisions for you – decisions that can prolong your quality of life to its fullest.
And isn’t that what we all hope for? To live full, healthy lives as long as possible? I know that’s my fervent desire, and I hope it’s yours, too.
Until next time,