6. Get more from your monitoring.
Using a blood glucose meter is only helpful if you know how to respond to your numbers. While low blood glucose numbers (lower than 70 mg/dl) demand immediate attention, in general, it’s best to look for trends or patterns in your blood glucose numbers, rather than to focus on isolated numbers. You will inevitably see some variation in your numbers from one day to the next, but what’s important is whether your numbers are usually in your target range first thing in the morning, before and two hours after meals, at bedtime, etc. Patterns of out-of-range numbers mean that you need a change in some aspect of your diabetes regimen.
The format you use to write down your monitoring results can make it easier or more difficult to see patterns. Your diabetes educator may be able to recommend a particular format or logbook. Two monitoring logs that can be downloaded for free from the Internet are the Accu-Chek Testing in Pairs tool and the Accu-Chek 360˚ View tool. The Testing in Pairs tool is designed to help you see how meals, exercise, or other activities or events affect your blood glucose level over seven days. The 360˚ View tool shows how different meals affect your blood glucose level and energy level over three days. Both forms are intended to be discussed with a health-care provider after being filled out. To find the forms, go here:
www.accu-chekconnect.com (Click on “Discovery Tools,” then select your preferred tool.)
7. Start a conversation.
Is there something you’d like to tell someone in your life about your diabetes? Would you like to inform a family member, a friend, or your doctor about the challenges of managing your diabetes or the effects it is having on your lifestyle or body? Do you need to ask for help in some area?
No matter what the specifics of your desired communication, it can be hard to know how to start conversations of a personal nature, even — sometimes especially — with the people who are close to you.
It helps to think through what you want to say before you say it. It also helps to think about how, when, and where you will start this conversation. Would a phone call be best? Or would a face-to-face meeting work better? It’s often a good idea to let the other person know ahead of time that you’d like to have a conversation on a particular topic. That way he is not taken off guard and can truly set aside other concerns to focus on you.
Be aware of your own emotions connected to what you want to say, and be prepared for the other person to have an emotional response to your information — but don’t assume that you know what those emotions will be. Try to stay calm and nondefensive. After you’ve stated as clearly as possible what you want to say, give the other person time to absorb it and respond. Listen carefully, and watch for nonverbal cues to better understand what the person is saying and feeling. Be prepared to take a break and revisit the topic at a later date: It may take a while for your message to sink in, or for the other person to sort out his thoughts and emotions.
Communication is difficult. If your efforts to communicate feel fruitless, seek help. Working with a therapist is a good way to learn to communicate more effectively, but you can learn more on your own, too. Here are some resources:
www.helpguide.org (Click on “Emotional Health for articles on communication.)
http://locator.apa.org (to find a psychologist)
http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms (to find a therapist)