Friday, August 29, 2014

Living with diabetes: Checking blood sugar levels

An important part of my diabetes care and treatment plan is checking my fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels. Knowing what my levels are helps me determine what to eat to help maintain normal blood sugar. With the newest testing meter technology, it's fairly easy to produce a sample and get a quick read on where my blood sugar is before I start eating, and then check in on what effect my meal has on my blood sugar level two hours afterwards.

Some of my "best practices" for getting the most accurate blood sugar results:
  • Use a new strip each time you test. Yes, they are expensive, but they are only effective for a single use, so make the investment. (Your doctor should be able to write you a prescription and that will help lower the price.)
  • Be sure the needle in your lancing device is sharp and properly adjusted. If your needle is dull, it's going to be more painful to break through your skin, so change to a new needle periodically and be sure to dispose of used needles appropriately. (I have a plastic sharps container that I take to a hazardous waste disposal facility when it's full.)
  • Wash your hands with warm water then dry them completely. It's important that the test site is completely dry so that you don't dilute the sample for the meter. I also hold my hand as low as possible so that the blood flows into my fingers.
  • Press one side of the finger you're testing into a hard surface like a table or bathroom counter. On the other side you'll press gently down with the lancing device, pinning your finger in between. When you're ready, press the trigger on the lancing device then massage your finger until a small blood drop forms.
  • Don't actually touch the end of the test strip with your finger, just get close enough for the blood drop to be absorbed by the strip in the meter. Touching the meter can throw off the test and you'll have to start from the beginning with a new strip and new test site.
Getting my finger as close to the strip as possible without actually touching it!
Preparing for my pre-breakfast test this morning
  •  Finally, be sure to vary which meal you test around so that you can see how your control varies throughout the day. For instance, today I tested just before dinner and two hours after starting dinner, so tomorrow I will test around lunch or breakfast instead.
The best way to make well-informed choices about foods to include in your daily diet as a diabetic is to check your blood sugar levels regularly - at a minimum before and after one meal each day. It's not my favorite part of life with diabetes but it's non-negotiable for me and should be for anyone with Type Two diabetes, regardless of what your insurance company might think. Knowledge is power!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New digs

Earlier this month, I marked nine years of blogging here at Do you have that in my size??? I haven't loved every minute of those nine years but on the balance it's been one of the best experiences of my life. I've wavered back and forth throughout the years about whether to keep going or pack it in - and I've even unofficially packed it in a few times to boot! - but I always come back because I love the act of writing and the little community of friends that I have here.

No, I'm not giving up blogging (again)!

For our anniversary this year (which is this Friday, April 13th), Mick bought me my very own domain name, something that I'd been trying to do for several years without any luck. (The company who'd previously owned it let their lease on it expire - huzzah!) Only a man who truly loved his blogging wife would do something crazy like that, and I love him even more because of it. Once I knew I had a new domain, I thought about what I wanted to do in terms of a blogging framework: stay with Blogger which is what I've used since April 2003 or switch to WordPress which everyone and their brother has been telling me I need to use for at least five years now. After some reflection and a great introductory offer to migrate my blog from a Blissdom buddy, I decided to make the move to a self-hosted, WordPress blog.

Without further ado, here's where I'll be writing from here on out. You can get there with either or (I now own both domains and one will redirect to the other) and I hope you'll make the jump with me. I hope you'll also give me some feedback about what you like and don't like about the new site in terms of graphics, layout, etc because I'm clueless about that kind of stuff and my migration package didn't include consultations about how best to lay things out.

I'm not deleting this blog, not now or ever, and my archives will be available both here and at the new site in case you'd like to read about any of the last nine years. All of my new posts will only appear at the new site from here on out, though, so I hope to see you there soon. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Caputuring a moment in time

During April, I will be participating in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (HAWMC), sponsored by WEGO Health. As part of the challenge, I'll write each day about the challenges I have in dealing with Type II diabetes. My hope is that my writing will help others who might be dealing with diabetes or another chronic disease to understand that they are not alone (and also work through some of my own issues at the same time). This post is in response to the provided prompt: Health Time Capsule. Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?

I remember when we were trying to figure out what to put in the Senior time capsule for the Class of '85 at my high school. What really represented who we were and what was important to us? I recall a Madonna album (vinyl, of course) and day-glo jewelry going in but not much else comes to mind. Of course the idea that a few trinkets selected by the elite few in the popular clique could possibly represent over 900 individuals was ridiculous but we all played along and eventually it was buried in the flower bed outside the gym.

Trying to capture diabetes in 2012 presents a similar dilemma:  how on Earth could I possibly encapsulate the experiences of 16-30 million people currently living with diabetes in one post? Of course I can't, but I can paint a picture of what it's like for me to be diabetic in 2012 and those objects that enable me to live the life that I live.

With that, here's the contents of my capsule:

1. A Victoza pen and needle. It was such a big deal to me for so long that I would never be able to give myself injections. Would do anything to avoid going on insulin because it was some kind of moral defect NOT to be able to control my blood sugar without medication, particularly insulin. I don't know where I got that idea, but that was my belief. While at a diabetes conference last year, I realized that doing whatever I needed to in order to get my blood sugar under control wasn't a sign of weak character but rather the act of someone strong enough to do what needed to be done. In other words, I put on my Big Girl Panties and just got on with it. I went to my endocrinologist, asked for a prescription, and the rest is history.

2. A photo collage of the diabetic friends I've made, both at work and through my Diabetes and Depression support group. Until last year, I never talked about being diabetic anywhere but here. I was ashamed of being diabetic because I truly believed that it was my punishment for letting myself become obese. I felt that if people knew I was diabetic that they'd judge me for being weak and lazy, and I couldn't deal with that so instead I just kept everything inside and let it - literally - eat me alive. Fast forward a year and I have lots of friends with diabetes, and even some without, that I can share with about my disease. De-stigmatizing diabetes so that I could feel the support of others has been a critical piece of bringing me to a place of self-acceptance and even self-love.

3. A printout of the list of Twitter names for folks with diabetes who make up the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). I can't remember how I came across the first diabetic blogger on Twitter, but since that time I've added about 20 people to my following list just because they write about diabetes and their experiences in such a way that they make my diabetic life better or at least a little easier to bear. There are weekly DSMA chats, too, at which time about 100 people all talk at once about what it's like for them to live life as a diabetic or parent/significant other of a diabetic. Imagine being able to say your deepest, darkest, "no-one-will-like-me-if-they-know-who-I-really-am" secret out loud and then have more than one person immediately tweet back to say, in essence, "me, too". It's just incredibly powerful.

I hope that, one hundred years from now, if someone opens my virtual time capsule that they get a sense of the journey I'm on and the progress I'm making. I'm so far from perfect - I can't even see it from here - but I'm still walking forward and I still know that better health is my destiny. Mostly, though, I hope that they wonder what the heck I'm making such a big deal about because diabetes no longer exists in their world. I KNOW that with enough money and research and time that we WILL cure diabetes!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A dizzying whirl of excitement

Life right now is pretty darned good. I'm eating well, I have great friends and family, and I'm finally comfortable in my own skin (at age 44). Not too shabby. Oh yes, and I lost six pounds in a week while eating yummy food that makes me feel healthy. No exercise yet and I know it's all water weight, but that's still six pounds that was weighing my poor body and endocrine system in particular down last week that's not there anymore, so I'm doing a little happy jig over here.

People have been approaching me lately to ask if I've lost weight and tell me that they can see the loss on my body already. I don't think there's any way that six pounds is perceptible to the human eye but what I think they're seeing and reacting to is the fact that I'm more relaxed, happier, and self-assured than ever before and that's what I'm projecting. That, and the fitted clothes with firm waistbands - no more elastic for this girl, at least outside the house!

I still need to add exercise to the mix, and I will, but this is really making me happy and giving me hope that I will take better control of my health (and my life).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Like riding a bicycle

It's been three days so far on my HealthFirst diabetes reduction plan and I have to say that it's been much easier than I'd anticipated. Other than some mild nausea and weakness on Friday, I really haven't suffered any feelings of deprivation and have stayed within the 1800 calories a day that I had planned. I've swapped the fruit juices that accompany some of my meals for nonfat lattes because my blood sugar doesn't tend to like fruit juice very much, and I swapped cauliflower (not a favorite of mine) for steamed green beans, but otherwise I'm right on track. Why does it seem - dare I say it? - easy?

The wonderful Susan's Healthy Gourmet foods are so good that I would want to eat them even if I weren't trying to lose weight. I know people say that about their diets but I really mean it: this is good food. Their portions are very reasonable, too, so I haven't felt hungry even though I'm eating considerably less than I'm used to. Finally, I have the full support of my fabulous husband even though it's inconvenient for him to try to forage for dinner for one while I'm adhering strictly to Susan's foods. (If he's reading this, I really appreciate it, Sweetheart!)

And now for some highlights of meals I've eaten recently:

Friday breakfast was a mini whole wheat bagel sandwich (egg and cheese) with a fruit cup topped with nonfat plain yogurt and accompanied by a nonfat latte. Notice my trusty iPad front and center - never leave home without it - and my lunch bag kindly provided to Blissdom attendees by the folks at Centrum. (I'm not being paid anything to link to them, I just think their new site is a good way to figure out which vitamins might be right for you, if you're interested in that sort of thing. They also provided free consultations with a real nutritionist which I took advantage of and gained much of the motivation that eventually led me to make my HealthFirst commitment.)

Here's Friday's dinner: grilled salmon with a red pepper pesto, risotto, and greens. (I swapped out the cauliflower for steamed green beans.)

I'm throwing in some snacks, too, like this Pinkberry peach yogurt (small) with chunks of fresh-cut peaches from Friday night. For about 200 calories, it makes me feel indulgent without going off the rails.

Here's lunch from Saturday: chicken tortilla soup complete with sprinkled cheese and tortilla strips, a chocolate-raisin mini cupcake, and wedges of quesadilla: I can't even tell you how happy this lunch made me.

Finally we have dinner from last night/Saturday: turkey sausage lasagna with baked sweet potato pieces, sugar snap peas, and a mini "cheesecake" for dessert (that's the little cup on the right). I ate this while Mick had soup and a salad from Panera, proving that we can make this work into our normal routine.

And now I'm off to do some shopping for the week at Tarjay then hopefully some quality time with my camera and a local park before the rain arrives this afternoon. Hope your day is a good one, too!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On the road again

"Today I started my diet." How many times have I said that, written that, felt that? I am reassured by the kind comments and emails I've received since my last entry that someone in the world has faith that I can make this work, make things change. Perhaps with enough time, I will stop feeling as though I ought to apologize for writing about this stuff here again.

For accountability, I'd like to post pictures of my meals and snacks, beginning today. We'll see how long it takes until I forget to take pictures before eating something.

Here's today's breakfast - mini whole wheat bagel, hard boiled egg, grapes, couple different kinds of cheese, salami, and a slice of ham. Just about 500 calories in case anyone's keeping track.

And lunch - Basil Chicken sandwich on a lovely poppy seed ciabatta roll with whole wheat pasta salad and more grapes. Also about 500 calories, give or take.

ETA: Dinner - Mushroom & Jarlsberg Enchiladas, rice, beans, and corn. 576 calories

Most of my meals - barring special occasions like the Women Lead luncheon I'm attending tomorrow and the American Legion dinner I have with the husband and college student daughter next Saturday night - will be from Susan's Healthy Gourmet. Susan's is a local small business that creates fresh, healthy, nutritionally balanced meals that they deliver to my house (in a cooler) twice a week. I've used their service before with great success because the food is tasty and can be plated to look just like whatever the rest of the family will be eating.

So far, so good. No white knuckles here but I am smacking a piece of sugar-free, minty-fresh gum as we speak. I had some nausea and felt very weak this morning before I ate but that's unfortunately the way I've felt most mornings for months, so I'm anxious to see if eating better and less will make me feel better in the mornings.

I weighed in this morning, too, just for grins and giggles, and I weigh 244 pounds. From what I've read, losing 10% of your body weight should have a measurable impact on your blood sugar, so that would mean my losing 24 pounds. From past history that seems pretty achievable but we'll see what age and chronic, flaky dieting has done to my metabolism.

Maybe by the time summer rolls around this will all be second nature and my life will be a beacon of health and light. (A girl can dream, right?)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Immoderate desires

I have been very successful in the past by using a very rigid, very structured approach to weight loss. I have lost and regained over 100 pounds at least three times (I've lost count) and each of those successful weight loss campaigns has involved counting calories, eating only certain prepared foods, or eating meal replacements, combined with at least an hour of cardiovascular exercise every single day. This was not moderate nor was it intuitive, and it worked to get large amounts of weight off but not to get all of it off nor to keep it off.

Of late, I've been focusing on understanding why I eat so badly and trying to love myself into wanting to take care of myself physically. The problem with that approach is that I'm diabetic and my blood sugar is not in good control (even with strict adherence to an extensive medication regime as prescribed by my doctors), and that situation cannot be allowed to continue. At this point, the danger of my continuing to allow my blood sugar to remain high outweighs my desire to "figure things out on my own," so I need to take a different path, at least until my sugars drop into acceptable range.

So I've ordered meals for the next week - starting on Thursday - from a local service that prepares fresh meals that are calorie controlled, well-balanced and delicious. I'm going to give them a try for a week combined with 30-60 minutes of cardio to see what happens to my blood sugar, my sleeping habits (I currently wake up every 90 minutes or so to use the bathroom because of my blood sugar), and yes, the waistlines of my clothes which are cutting painfully into my bloated belly. I'll document how I do each day, including pictures of each meal, details of my workouts, and what's going on in my brain, right here on the blog so that you can play along at home.

Feel free to be skeptical - I am. What makes this different than yesterday or the day before or any day for the last 25 years? I'm not sure, but I feel calm and ready, so we'll see how I do.

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