By: Meagan Esler
I wish there were a fail-safe manual for diabetes. Just when I’m thinking about how great my blood sugars have been, bam! I see a 300 on my meter, or a 40. It’s so hard to know why: The off numbers could be due to hormones, stress, sickness, an incorrect carb count, varying activity levels, or any combination thereof. With diabetes, you really do learn as you go. Here are a few things I have learned along the way.
Sugar-free chocolate isn’t always as much fun as you’d think.
Early in my diagnosis, I went overboard with some sugar-free chocolates, and it was an awful experience. Although they tasted pretty good, I had no idea that a few pieces could cause undesirable tummy issues until it was too late. In the tiny print on the nutrition label of most brands, you’ll discover that there is a laxative effect if you eat too many. But seriously, who can eat just one?
Insulin doses vary for everyone.
This one’s a biggie. Don’t try to compare your dosage to that of anyone else: There is no “one size fits all” prescription for insulin dosing. Different people need different amounts of insulin to control their blood sugars, and we need more or less at varying times. Often we have to act as our own doctor and make a judgment call when it comes to our insulin dose. Your doctor will give you specific instructions so that you are capable of making those decisions. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the wrong dose, and it made me believe that I would never get my blood sugars in range. But after my doctor tweaked a few things, my numbers are better than they’ve ever been.
People are going to say things about your diet.
Some people will give you a hard time if you even glance at a piece of cake. They may even scrape all the frosting off a slice and then put it on your desk at work. That actually happened to me. Although I know they were only trying to help, that kind of help gets old fast. What you eat is between you and your doctor. As long as you keep your numbers in line, you decide when you get to splurge.
They tell you to rotate your injection sites for a reason.
Okay, maybe someone in a white lab coat did warn me about this one. However, she didn’t tell me what would happen if I didn’t rotate. I favored the same area on my upper thigh forever. By the time I finally moved to a new place, the spot on my thigh had become a sizeable lump and my insulin wasn’t absorbing well. I had to stay away from that area for a really long time to see the bump go away and have a usable injection site again.
In the diabetic online community, we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having friends who actually live with diabetes is often a better strategy than any manual you can buy.