To Check Blood Glucose More, First Change Accessibility

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This is a blog post about a habit I recently changed regarding my diabetes supplies. More to the point, it’s about how (and how frequently) I would use the materials available to me to check my blood glucose.

You see, regarding diabetes self-management and tangible items (test strips, lancing devices, meters), for the most part I’ve gone with the blood-glucose-checking practices that I started out with when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes almost three years ago. Of course, there’s not much to change when it comes to finger sticks and introducing a drop of blood onto a test strip. I mean, I’m not talking about some newfangled discovery I’ve made (I’m not checking while suspended upside down; I’m not checking while holding my breath).

What I’m talking about is the ubiquitous diabetes test kit and my access to what’s inside. Privately funded Lagergren research has shown that if the zippered kit is in my zipped-up work bag, there is a direct correlation to how many times each day I check my blood glucose: the more (quote unquote) work that I have to do to get into that kit (unzip the bag, scrounge for the kit, unzip the kit, pull out a test strip, grab the lancing device), the more likely I am to punt. I say to myself, “I think my blood glucose is fine and I’m going to skip this check.” Then I do.

I’ve carried that kit with me since my diabetes day one. But as I age with Type 1 diabetes and grow somewhat complacent at times about blood glucose monitoring, I need to find ways to thwart my lazy tendencies. Missing a blood glucose check here or there, on occasion, isn’t damaging. Missing blood glucose checks here and there again and again, though, as these years go by, is how complications could potentially develop if I fail to see fluctuations in my blood glucose. These things accumulate, add up, and can come back to haunt me.

So while I continue to keep that blood glucose kit zipped up in my work bag, I have made a major discovery. I’ve realized — in a “duh” breakthrough kind of moment — that the monitoring supplies on my diabetes shelf at home do not need to be used one at a time. I don’t know why, but for the longest time I treated a box of test strips as a sacred object; I would only rip into a new box when the very last strip in the container I’d been using was soaked in the blood of my finger and resting in the trash.

These days, I’ll pop open three or four (or more) boxes at a time, and then make sure the codes on the bottles of at least three match so that I don’t have to recode the meter on my insulin pump each time I use a strip from a different bottle. (And so you know, because I have a glucose meter piggybacking on my insulin pump, I don’t have to worry about having a stand-alone meter with me; I always have a meter attached to my person).

Then what? Well, there are places where pretty much daily I know I’m going to be for good portions of time. And because over the years I’ve accumulated several different lancing devices (they’re cheap), and I have more than enough lancets to accommodate each pen for years to come, each bottle of test strips finds a home with a pen at prime locations (the top of my dresser, the kitchen counter, my desk at work). Yep. There they are. Just sitting there. Ready for me to quickly pop the top, take a strip, stick it in the meter, lance the finger, and check.

So simple. So easy.

Raise your lancing devices and give a quick click of your pen for me, because I’ve broken out of the one-pen, one-bottle-of-strips model of blood glucose monitoring. It’s made a difference, too: I’ve increased the frequency of my monitoring, and with that, lowered my daily blood glucose average (we’ll see in January how much it’s done for my HbA1c).

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