Baby steps

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Now there’s an adage I ought to keep in mind! Some might remember that I made a few New Year’s Resolutions a few weeks ago. Turns out (as usual) I may have bitten off more than I could chew. I have lots of excuses I could make…transitioning to a new internship, crazy weekends full of traveling and entertaining family members, general laziness. The latter excuse is probably the most accurate. Those things, plus the fact that I am a terribly impatient person, have led to me not being able to meet any of my three main goals thus far. Fail.

Disappointing? Yes. But I need to be realistic. Not only am I confronting several unhealthy habits at once, but also the even more deeply entrenched fact that I, being human, enjoy results…preferably without having to work too hard for them. Surprise, surprise. Unfortunately, diabetes, like everything else in life, takes time and patience to get under control. Which means I need to learn to crawl before I run. Take baby steps. I don’t think I need to use any more proverbs or cliches to get that point across.

So what’s my first baby step? After a few days of attempting to tackle all my resolutions at once, I realized that I was overlooking a foundational component to my diabetes management that can help drive my eating and exercise habits and daily routines. Checking my blood sugars regularly and keeping track of them. This is one of the hardest habits to get into as a diabetic. For one thing, monitoring blood glucose requires pricking your finger, which is obviously an unpleasant thing to do no matter how calloused your fingertips are. Then, of course, there’s the fact that it’s just a pain to remember. It’s also easy to become apathetic when your overall blood sugars are pretty good, as mine generally are. But if you’re not doing this basic task at regular intervals, it’s impossible to learn how your body reacts to certain types of food, medication, stress, illness, and other variables. As a diabetic your life can sometimes feel like one endless science experiment, with your blood glucose levels being your main test of what works and what doesn’t.

Even though my control is pretty good, my insulin needs are bound to change as I get older. Plus, I still get occasional surprises. Today, for example, I took two units of insulin after drinking a 16 oz hot chocolate. About an hour later, I started to experience the tell-tale signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): shaky and light-headed feeling, confusion, hunger. I tested my sugar at 48 mg/dl. I think it might have due to the effects of the long walk I had just taken, since exercise tends to make the body more sensitive to insulin. Even though I was no longer actively exercising, the residual effects might have continued to process insulin more efficiently. Either that, or I really did just misjudge my dosage. Who knows for sure? But it’s time like those that I really need to be monitoring my sugars closely and taking note of changes.

So, that’s the next step in this journey. For the next two weeks, my goal is to check my sugar every day, before and after every meal. Let’s see if I can get at least that much accomplished – then it’s time to start tackling the really tough stuff!

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3 thoughts on “Baby steps

  1. yes, it is so much easier to take it that way! before you know it you’ll be a totally different person (habit-wise, of course!). don’t beat yourself up about it, though!

  2. It takes effort to develop muscle around these habits and behaviors specially when you need to prick your fingers each time. The fingers remember and begin to resent it but with time and a purpose (goal) behind why you are doing it will get easier. I’ve been tracking my glucose levels on and off for the last year and 1/2 but had not quite figured it out, I struggled. Something clicked last year and since the end of december I’ve been religious about testing my sugar levels – fasting and after meals (3-4 times a day). I got to tell you it’s the best thing I’ve done, it allowed me to see the ups and downs as well as areas where I’ve done phenomenal and where I had set backs. It’s making my life so much easier and now I have records I’m using to have more informed conversation with my Dr. As Laura suggested, “don’t beat yourself up about it”, it is baby steps, sometimes 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. It just like going to the gym and developing muscle. To good health!

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