If you set goals that are too tough, you’re likely to become discouraged when your readings are out of range. This sense of failure won’t inspire you to work harder on your diabetes management. Instead, it will make you want to stop monitoring altogether. So establish clear and reasonable goals, and be kind to yourself. Remember that, despite your best intentions, erratic blood glucose levels will occur at times. Sometimes they’ll be high and sometimes low. And these crazy numbers often cannot be explained.
Learn to make good use of blood glucose information. Establish a clear plan with your diabetes-care provider about what exactly to do in the case of high or low readings. In what situations do you adjust the amount or timing of your medicine? In what situations do you change your food intake or activity level? If you discover your plan isn’t working, that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up; rather, it’s time for a new plan! You should have a health-care provider who is willing to work with you, someone who is active in giving you timely feedback and suggestions about your blood sugar results. If your doctor can’t or won’t do this, you may need a new doctor.
Make your environment work for you. Sometimes the biggest barriers to regular monitoring are the little things, the hassles of daily life. But there are ways to make monitoring fit into your daily routine more easily.
If life is so busy that you are frequently skipping blood glucose checks, consider “anchoring” your monitoring to other, already established habits. For example, if you want to take a fasting blood glucose reading in the morning, but can’t seem to get it done, think about the first thing you typically do each morning, and try to add blood glucose monitoring to that habit. For example, if the first thing you do in the morning is brush your teeth, try leaving your monitor next to your toothbrush in the bathroom. If it’s make coffee, leave the monitor next to the coffeemaker. Think about how you can connect monitoring to other daily tasks for checks at other times during the day.
If it is inconvenient to take along your meter on your daily travels, consider something as simple as purchasing another meter and leaving it where it may be needed most — at work, at your best friend’s house — but not in your car, where extremes in temperature can affect the accuracy of readings. By having another meter conveniently located, you won’t have to remember to bring your equipment with you everywhere you go. Think creatively about other ways to modify your daily environment to make regular monitoring easier.
Get yourself the right equipment. If you find finger pricks particularly painful, you might not be using the best lancet and lancing device for you. Most people find that the narrower the lancet, the less painful the prick. (With lancets, the higher the gauge, the smaller the hole in your finger. So a 30-gauge lancet makes a smaller hole than a 23-gauge lancet.) But if you use a lancet that’s too narrow, you might not get enough blood, and then you’ll have to do another fingerstick. You may need to experiment to find the lancet that allows you to get a large enough drop of blood for an accurate reading but with the least amount of pain. Ask your diabetes educator for samples of different lancets to try.
If you find that your fingers bruise from fingersticks, it may mean that the lancet is penetrating too deeply. Many of the newer lancing devices allow you to adjust the depth of penetration so you can find what’s right for you. Generally, children and adults with sensitive fingers prefer a shallower puncture; adults with callused fingers may need a deeper puncture to get an adequate blood sample. A certified diabetes educator can help you choose a lancet and lancing device that’s right for you.