Very Old, Very Healthy Diabetic

...or die trying.
I was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 33 with NIDDM or Type 2 diabetes. I come from a diabetic clan. I even married a diabetic. Are you on the diabetes road, too?
This is my goal: to become a very old, very healthy diabetic by day to day choices regarding eating, exercise and medical management. Walk along with me...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why not test?

I am a person with diabetes. I am learning to use this new PC language. I find it unnecessary and awkward. But hey, what's a person with diabetes to do? I am also a person with diabetes who owns a computer with problems and a modem without connection. Thus, the blog that is post-challenged. I must go down to the store and present myself as a person with service plan to the employees with geekness.

I've been thinking about testing.

As you know, it is wise for people with diabetes (type 2) to test regularly. Those of us with diabetes - type 2 - often do not, much to the chagrin of our people-with-diabetes-type-1 friends, who MUST test every few hours to keep themselves and their insulin dosages on track.

Why, my friends with diabetes (type 1) ask, don't people with diabetes type 2 test themselves regularly? Why do they stop testing?

Well, I reply, I think it's because we can. We can stop testing without risking death in the next few hours or days. I think that's the main reason. But I've got a second and third possibility, too.

The second reason, in my opinion, is because the testing doesn't always give us meaningful data.

In other words, If I'm testing daily, and I'm a person with diabetes and my diabetes is under good control, I can test regularly for weeks, months or years at a time and get nice polite readings for my morning fasting number that range between 80 and 120. This number requires no change of behavior on my part. I don't even have to respond to it. So why waste my $1 test strips and test daily? Couldn't I just test once a week and, if I get a nice polite number, test again a week later?

It's like a job performance review that reads "meets requirements" all the way across. No new info. Nothing to work on.

The third reason, in my opinion, is because the testing give us meaningful data that we don't want to know. The numbers are high, but the person with diabetes is unwilling to make any changes that could alter the numbers.

This is a common phenomenon among people with diabetes, especially type 2, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. Imagine the frustration of a physician, trying to assist his patient with diabetes, when the patient brings no data. How can such a person think it's OK to enjoy a sugary slurpee on these hot summer days, without testing to see what such a treat does to the BG numbers?

It's just a number. And you DON'T have to respond to it. It's just one piece of data. You could respond to it. But you don't have to.

You can look at the reading and say, hmm, 284, how about that, and still eat the chocolate cake for breakfast. Who's going to stop you?

But it's kind of like driving your car around without looking at the dashboard gauges. Or the traffic signals. Or the street signs.

These marvelous meters are such a great tool. My grandparents didn't have them for most of their years with diabetes. Let's use them. Let's test.

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  • At 3:21 PM, Blogger Zazzy said…

    My list is slightly different, but I'll admit to the "I don't want to know" aspect. Testing helps me keep on track. When I'm feeling bad about not doing good I don't want to know.

    Second, if I'm high, there is not a damn thing I can do about it. I can sleep. I could theoretically exercise. But basically, I can wait for my blood sugar to come down. It's really frustrating for me. Especially when I have been doing things right and I'm still high. I get frustrated and feel like there is no point.

    The number one reason, in my most humble opinion, that type 2s don't test more is we are told by our doctors we only need to test daily. Or every other day, even. I'm told that there's not much of a risk of going low (unless I'm exercising tight control) by my doctors so I don't need to test. I don't need to know how I react to different foods. I don't need to know how my blood sugar trends. Hell, I'm being argued with when I say my blood sugar is far higher after meals than it ever has been. I bring data and my doctor hardly looks at it. My A1c is up too, so I should watch what I eat and come back in three months. If the doctors don't take it seriously how hard is it for us to take it seriously?

    I've been doing some extra reading and writing and do you know that according to the ADA most type 2s have lost enough insulin production 5-10 years after diagnosis that they need to be on insulin? Would that be different if we were trained from the start to test and treat the diabetes differently?

    Please excuse the rant. I agree with you. We need to test more. We have wonderful advantages over our grandparents and we don't have to listen to the medical community if they're telling us not to test. We need to be responsible for our own care.

  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger Lori Rode said…

    I think that's a great comment, Zazzy!

    I forgot about the 'I can't do anything about a high reading' argument. I do think it's a compelling one. If our Type 1 friends are high, they can correct with insulin. I have no insulin...I can exercise or just write the number down...or skip the cake. I can drink water.

    I agree with what you say about the docs and type 2s. It's a tough battle, there.


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