Ok, so I’m a diabetic. Now what? The doctor said that I need to exercise and change my diet. Losing some weight would be beneficial. Get a glucose meter and check my blood glucose at various times during the day: first thing in the morning, 2 hours after a meal, before a meal, at bedtime, when the moon is full, on trash day…..What? What did she say? Be mindful of what you’re eating and how much of each thing: no more than 10 grams of fat, 10-20 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs per meal. Huh? What’s a carb? (I later discovered that a carb is something that I absolutely adore. Damn the luck!) I left that doctor’s office in a daze.
Alright, I think I can handle one thing at a time. I could grasp the whole testing thing and understood where my readings should be based on what time of day it was, when I’d eaten (and whether the trash had been picked up). My doctor gave me good advice when she said to buy the meter with the cheapest test strips. I armed myself with my supplies and created a spreadsheet to log my results. I became a testing zealot! I lived and breathed testing. My poor fingers were pin-cushions and my nerves were shot. I recall a camping trip not long after I had been diagnosed. I was determined to take care of business regardless of where I was. I carefully watched what I ate (or so I thought) and diligently tested first thing in the morning. 167?!?!? That can’t be!! I was so good last night at dinner! I burst into tears. I had failed. I’ll never get the hang of this.
The reality was that I was obsessing about my blood glucose. I thought that if I didn’t watch it carefully it would sneak up and do something dastardly to me overnight. I eventually settled down and realized that I had to take a logical approach to this and remember that I am an intelligent person. I CAN get the hang of this!
I began to systematically chart how different foods affected my blood sugar. I tested before a meal and then 2 hours after to see if those foods would help or hinder me. The kicker is not to test before and after every meal. That first step, assessing how what I normally ate affected my blood glucose, was a very important step. It allowed me to understand how what I put in my mouth landed me in this spot. I could then slowly make healthy changes. My education had begun!
I need to insert here how important testing is. I’m not on insulin so it’s not as critical for me, but testing helps to keep me on track. It can be a wake-up call to tighten my control as well as a reason to break into the Happy Dance when my numbers are good. It’s important but it doesn’t have to consume your life.
After some time I was no longer a testing zealot. I had now become a “the world needs to know every little thing about my diabetes and how I’m doing” zealot. But that’s another story.