Today I need to remind myself that diabetes is a personal disease: Others cannot see it because it has no obvious outward clues.
Even close family members cannot tell how well you are monitoring your blood sugar and doing the other daily chores that go along with having the condition.
It is quite possible to neglect Type 2 diabetes for a long time before serious complications catch up with you. No one else will know. So today might be a good time for a personal checkup. Here are the questions that help me know how I am doing.
Are you taking your medicines?
Of course you know you need your medicines, but with a chronic condition like diabetes, there are times when you may let things slide. Renewing prescriptions on time is an annoying chore that might be forgotten.
Doctors say that about half of their patients with diabetes are not getting all of the care they should be receiving. Cost is a big reason, but another problem is that after years of taking a medication, you may just want to stop.
Make sure you are taking everything your doctors have said you need, including any blood pressure and cholesterol medicines you may have been prescribed. It is so important not to stop.
Are you checking your blood sugar?
Many of us with Type 2 do not use a blood sugar monitor every day. Since I started using insulin, monitoring has become a regular part of my daily regimen. But before that I would skip days.
Why check it every day? Because blood sugar that stays too high or suddenly drops low is a dangerous thing. You do not want to wait until serious complications appear in your eyes, kidneys, feet, or heart.
I have read stories of people who ignored high blood sugar until they lost legs to amputation. Those stories remind me how important blood sugar monitoring is for people with diabetes.
We cannot depend on a doctor to monitor our blood sugar for us. Every three months is not often enough to check how well our blood sugar is controlled. This leads to the next question.
Are you visiting the doctor when you should?
Visiting a doctor every three months may seem excessive, but staying on top of diabetes complications is too important to wait longer for blood tests and checkups.
A good diabetes doctor will check your feet for sores and numb areas. You will be asked to get the blood and urine tests that uncover the beginning signs of kidney and liver complications long before they do any harm.
You will go over your diabetes care. Take this time to ask questions and talk about any changes in how you feel and whether you have new pains or stresses.
Are you sleeping well?
Your sleep is linked to your health. If you are not sleeping well, it will affect your blood sugar and blood pressure control. Bad sleep also compounds stress.
Most adults need between 7 1/2 and 8 1/2 hours of sleep each night. Doctors know that chronic sleep deprivation leads to an increased risk of developing certain conditions, including Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Is your poor sleep due to sleep apnea? There are things you can do about that, things that will improve your sleep and your diabetes.
Is it because of pain? As mentioned above, talk to your doctor about it. If pain is keeping you awake, he can go over your options for pain management. It is important not to ignore pain, especially if it is keeping you from getting good sleep.
Are you managing your stress?
Stress is one of those things that will creep up slowly and knock you down when you least expect it. Some stress is normal; everyone has it. But chronic stress tends to build up until it becomes unmanageable.
One stress management guru illustrated this with a glass. She said to hold a glass of water in your outstretched hand. Easy enough, right?
But she said to continue to hold it like that. After a while the glass becomes too heavy to hold any longer. That is a picture of what stress does.
For this reason stress management becomes a priority when you have a chronic condition like diabetes. You need to learn some coping skills, but you also need to make sure you use them.
I have grandchildren, prayer, and writing. Find the ones that work for you and stop to use them regularly so stress does not suddenly become too much for you.
Are you making exercise a priority?
Most of us who developed Type 2 diabetes have a problem with this. We have led sedentary lives because of jobs and lifestyle. We try to change this because we know exercise needs to be a part of every day, but we struggle with it.
Every few months I have to make exercise a priority again, and I am always glad when I do. Exercise helps me manage stress, makes blood sugar control easier, and gives me a mood boost.
Remember, you do not have to train for a marathon to include exercise in your day. Any activity that gets you up out of a chair several times a day is going to improve your diabetes and your health.
How is your diet?
Is your eating plan working? It is a good idea to rework and change up your diet if you are getting tired of things. Look for new recipes. Try different things. Plan your snacks so you are not slipping back into just grabbing whatever is available.
These are the questions that help me manage my own personal diabetes journey. I hope they help you as well. Will you let me know?
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