By: Scott M. King
Why Check Your Blood Glucose?
It is now well established that self-testing of blood-glucose levels is required for proper treatment of diabetes. Even people controlling their diabetes with diet or pills should test their blood regularly.
We know from research that excessive glucose in the human body (over 180 mg/dl) leads to cell damage. The analogy I use to graphically illustrate this is the process of making beef jerky.
To make beef jerky, cow flesh is cured by soaking it in sugar. The sugar causes the proteins to cross- link, making the meat nice and chewy. Picture this happening to tissues and organs inside the human body. The results are diabetes complications: blindness, kidney failure, stroke and nerve damage.
We know that meters and test strips by themselves don’t prevent diabetes complications. We have to keep testing and learn how to keep our levels below 180 mg/dl. Yes, goals vary by the time of testing, such as before or after meals. I know to aim for 90 to 130 mg/dl in the morning and before meals and for 140 mg/dl or less two hours after meals.
Everyone needs to be educated in the art of lowering blood glucose. If you don’t know how to do this, find a diabetes educator and/or buy a good diabetes book. To locate an educator in your area, call the American Association of Diabetes Educators at (800) 832-6874.
On many occasions I have tested and found an unexpected reading of 250 mg/dl or higher! I get frustrated and mad and try to understand where I went wrong. This usually amounts to beating myself up for the past, which doesn’t make me feel any better. I’m lucky enough to have Nadia, the best wife in the world. She knows exactly what to say to me. When I lament my awful reading to her, she says in her sweetest voice:
“Don’t worry honey, you’ll get it back down.”
It’s true. I know how to get it down when it goes high. How this is done could be the topic for another article. The upshot is that I have a solution and I try harder to avoid doing what made the glucose shoot up.
Numbers of Life
Numbers are so important to us. Our lives are run by numbers. We look at the readings on our blood-glucose meters and check our A1C tests, cholesterol, and urine microalbumin levels. There are also quality of life questions to consider-whether or not we should let our meters and their readings rule our lives. Recently, I was talking to a person with diabetes who had this problem all solved. She used to wake up each morning with high glucose levels, which upset her very much.
She sought out professional help to get these readings down, but no one could help her. She decided to stop testing in the morning and she felt much better! She felt her quality of life had improved because she did not have to face those depressing numbers each morning. I said to her, “I understand your line of thinking, and I support you in not letting diabetes rule your life, but I see the solution a bit differently.”
I explained that there must be a solution she had not yet tried that would work. I told her about several options we have written about in this magazine. One recent study extolled the success of using an insulin pump to solve the problem of high morning readings. I told her about Lantus and suggested that she might need to test at 2 a.m. for a couple of nights to determine her pattern. No one had offered her these suggestions. I also recommended some good reading material, which would discuss the problem of high morning readings in detail. She was receptive and took the material to read.
We talked two weeks later, and she had found a solution that worked for her. She also told me that waking up with a “normal” (90-130 mg/dl) level made a huge difference in how she felt in the morning. She felt much better-lighter and happier with more energy.
There are 26 terrific articles in this issue for you to enjoy. Until next month, happy reading and happy testing!