Become a smart shopper. The supplies needed for regular blood glucose monitoring can get expensive, particularly if your insurance doesn’t cover them completely or even partially. To lower your out-of-pocket expenses, make sure you are taking full advantage of your health insurance coverage. Then shop around to find the lowest prices on supplies. Mail-order houses, local and chain pharmacies, and diabetes specialty stores can vary quite a lot in what they offer and what they charge for it. Keep an eye open for frequent-buyer programs, sales, and discount coupons. You can often save money on supplies by buying them in bulk. But before you buy test strips in bulk, make sure that you can use them all before the expiration date marked on the package.
Although the makers of lancets don’t recommend reuse, most health-care professionals think it’s OK to reuse a lancet within a 24-hour period. The main concern about reusing lancets is infection. To help protect against infection, wash your hands well before lancing your finger. Do not use alcohol on your finger unless you don’t have access to soap and water and your hands are dirty. (Alcohol can dry out your skin and alter your blood glucose reading.) If you must use alcohol, make sure your finger dries completely before you lance it.
You should also know that reusing lancets can make fingerpricking more painful. The point gets duller every time you use it, making it harder to draw blood. Using alcohol on a lancet can have the same dulling effect, because alcohol removes the protective coating on the metal. So don’t try to clean the lancet between uses.
Make sure everyone knows that you’re in charge. In all likelihood, your friends and family members care about you and want you to be as healthy as possible. That’s why they may take such an interest in your diabetes care. But if you feel like your loved ones are constantly “policing” your behavior, you might become reluctant to check your blood glucose — and bring further attention to your diabetes — in front of them.
The diabetes police are well-intentioned; they’re just trying to be helpful. They may know that their actions are irritating you, but they worry that your self-care will deteriorate if they don’t keep a close watch on you.
The best way to rid yourself of the diabetes police is to prove them wrong. By publicly taking charge of your diabetes, you will convince your friends and family that you can take care of yourself. If you don’t need your loved ones to remind you of your diet or exercise regimen, then prove it. Tell them about your diabetes care plan and your ongoing efforts to follow it. Tell them about the parts that are easy and the parts that are difficult.
If friends and family members continue to make comments about your diabetes that upset you, sit down and talk to them about how their behavior makes you feel. Tell them that you appreciate their concern, but their policing actually makes you less likely to check your blood glucose when they’re around. Offer suggestions as to what sort of support you would prefer. (If you’re having a hard time with the diabetes police, you may want to consider purchasing the book Diabetes Burnout, which contains a good deal of information about this topic. See the ordering information at the end of this article.)
Making peace with blood glucose monitoring
So what have you learned? Regular monitoring is important, yet for many people it remains tough. It can be burdensome when you give monitoring the power to make you feel bad about yourself, when you feel helpless to do anything about erratic readings, or when the demands of daily life intrude. The good news is that these barriers can be successfully overcome once you take the time to identify which of them may be keeping you from regular monitoring.