January 7, 2013

Tips for Glucose Testing – Part 1

Part 1 of 4 parts

I continue to receive emails asking me about certain of my blogs. A concern is other type 2 patients asking where to get testing supplies and where to learn how to use these supplies. I have had two emails a few weeks ago now saying that their doctor had not even told them about testing and when they called asking for a prescription for a meter and testing supplies, they were told this was not what the doctor wanted them to do. Someone needs to hang these doctors up by their toenails and drip water over them for a few days.

Yes, I can be that heartless about doctors that do not want their patients to learn about diabetes and how to monitor their blood glucose. One of the doctors near here does not tell patients either. I happened to see him in a store recently and asked him why he did not prescribe testing supplies. He just said it was none of my business. Now, I should not have been rude, but I had to ask, which grain producers were subsidizing him not to promote testing? Or, was it the USDA giving him money not to teach people about testing? He did what I expected, turned his back on me and walked away. Another person that was with him I did not know, but he stopped and asked me what I was talking about. I said that the good doctor was not teaching his patients with diabetes about blood glucose testing. He would not tell them about testing or getting testing supplies.

The person introduced himself as a doctor and asked what I knew about this. I said that I am a person with type 2 diabetes and that I happened to know several of his now former patients that he had not told about testing. I explained that he was known for not discussing diabetes with his patients other than prescribing medications. He asked if I had been a patient of his and I said fortunately no. I did say that I knew several of his patients that had diabetes and knew he did not discuss diabetes with them and discouraged their testing. He seemed concerned, but wondered how it involved me. I said that I am asked questions by people when they find out I have diabetes and how I know about testing. I said I blog about type 2 diabetes and have several friends that have type 2 diabetes. I said we do not keep it a secret like many type 2 patients and are willing to answer questions. I told him that a group of us are an informal peer-to-peer group and teach each other and reach out to other type 2 people. Our discussion ended when the doctor came looking for his friend.

I do answer the emails and often get further questions. I can tell that they have read the list of URLs because many of the questions come from these. I have a list of blogs from Tom Ross, David Mendosa, Gretchen Becker, and Alan Shanley that I like to use for different questions. Many find it difficult to believe that people can get off and stay off medications. Tom Ross has never been on medications and David Mendosa has been able get off and stay off. One of the more frequent questions is about self-monitoring of blood glucose. Apparently, this is a question that many doctors fail to answer and even many certified diabetes educators only touch on for people with type 2 diabetes. For many of the people, I urge them to read many of Alan Shanley's blogs and several of mine.

Another question is often how to obtain more test strips when they do not have the resources to purchase them out of pocket. These are hard to answer without knowing what meter is being used and who manufactures it. This often requires several emails to get information. I admit I like people that are not secretive and realize they are the one asking the questions and give me the information I might need. In the next few blogs, I will try to answer some of these questions in general and in specific where possible. See part 4 in the financial aid section of obtaining assistance this Thursday.

Recently I did receive an email newsletter that I will probably use for a little information. This was from “Diabetic Connect.” I will use some of it along with information from other sources.

Even with all the information, until you have a meter and test strips, and have read the directions for the meter and for the test strips, you are not ready to use either. I have seen too many people not take proper care of either and then look for someone to blame. I will repeat what I have said before – the meter and test strips are delicate equipment and need to be treated as such. Don't jam test strips into the meter, store the meter in the case to keep as it as lint free as possible. Keep the test strips in the container they come in for best care. Do not throw the meter up on the car dash and let it bake in the sun. I have seen this more times, than I can count. Some may have been in the case (hopefully those cases were empty) and others not even in a case. I would be surprised if they even worked and probably were inaccurate. On several occasions, even a container for test strips was baking alongside the meter. Hopefully the container was empty, as I doubt the strips in that container would work. If the people with diabetes could do this with their testing supplies, I must wonder if they even take care of their diabetes.

Another question I receive is about food and why they can eat this, but should not eat that. This question is not easy to answer because I do not know your body chemistry and without testing, I have no idea what your body is capable of handling. Some people become horrified when I say that they are now their own lab rat in their own experiments. This is why testing is extremely important. This will let you know how different foods and even different quantities of food affect your blood glucose levels. And because something works today, does not mean that the same thing will work tomorrow. Your day-to-day health can cause variances and even large variances. If you think my suggestion of heaving intensive testing for two or three months is too long, just wait until a large variance happens and you are unable to tell from your food log and daily health log what caused the variance. This is part of the education of being your own lab rat. You will need to be honest with your food log and daily health log. The only person you will be fooling is yourself. Yes, a great doctor can look at these and maybe give you assistance in adjusting what you eat, but the A1c will give the doctor an idea if you are not being truthful. To be honest, he does not care if you lie to yourself, but if you lie to him/her, they may not be willing to spend time trying to assist you.

If you have a great doctor that gives you excellent information, great! Once you leave the office, you are generally on your own. You have to interpret your food log, health log, and blood glucose readings on your own and learn what the answer may be for a blood glucose reading that is excessively high or why you had the low blood glucose reading. I will advise people with blood glucose reading below 70 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) to have glucose tablets available to take one immediately and then 15 minutes later test again, and repeat if necessary. Why the chalky glucose tablets? Because these are not candy and it is important that you remember why you had to chew one or more of these 15-gram glucose tablets. They are fast acting and better than drinking (or over drinking) a juice pack or over consuming other food. These glucose tablets are available at most pharmacies without a prescription and it is advisable to have about 6 to 12 on hand at all times. This means carrying them when you are at work, travel, or are out for a walk.

Life with diabetes can be challenging, especially when you are new to diabetes. You may not appreciate this if you are new to diabetes, given that you may be in denial or haven't accepted the diagnosis, but when you finally come to realize that you must accept the fact that you have diabetes, learn how to deal with it, and what you are capable of in managing diabetes, you will be thankful for these abilities. Those of us that have had diabetes longer often feel that even with diabetes, we are healthier than we were before diabetes.

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