Checking blood sugar is a habit that must be formed

If you don’t know there is a problem how can you fix it?  Checking blood sugar for a diabetic is mandatory.  This applies to both Type I and II diabetics.  I check my blood sugar at least 8 times per day. I do this to allow me to closely monitor my blood sugar level.  As a disciplined diabetic, I run the risk of low blood sugar episodes more frequently that a normal diabetic.  By checking myself this often, I am constantly able to calculate the level of insulin and food intake needed for the upcoming events of my day.  Stress from work or life as an adult diabetic causes my blood sugar to drop.  However, low blood sugar is only a short-term hazard of diabetes.  The real culprit of diabetes and blood sugar is elevated blood sugar for extended periods of time.  Elevated blood sugar is the root cause of many of the more severe side effects people associated with diabetes.  Just a few of which are cataracts, retinopathy, kidney disease, nerve damage in fingers and toes, heart and blood vessel diseases and periodontal (gum) disease.

The first reasons diabetics have always given when attempting to justify why they do not check themselves regularly is that the testing is painful.  I agree pricking your skin to squeeze blood is nobody’s ideal scenario.  However, I have found that my fingers have formed calluses that reduce the pain and I choose to see the benefits that constant monitoring provide.  I live my life as I choose.  I know that by doing so and making the appropriate decisions on a minute-by-minute basis that this is the least amount of pain I will have to endure when compared to the opposite reaction ensured by not checking consistently.  Kidney dialysis, heart attacks and loss of fingers, toes and eyesight are just the first in a painful list that comes to mind.

The discipline of checking blood sugar requires can be challenging for the typical diabetic.  An additional reason for not checking blood sugar is the cost.  Testing blood sugar a minimum of 3 times per day can cost on average $3, or $1 per test strip without insurance.  Many diabetics use this excuse or the fact that they do not have insurance to help cover the cost of diabetic supplies like test strips.

In this life you need air, food water and test strips.  A diabetic that wants to lead a normal life and partake in their share of love, children, work, money and good times has to accept the fact that this disease will kill you, if unmanaged.  All the pain or expense you think you are avoiding by not checking your blood sugar regularly is simply delayed and compounded until the disease simply overtakes your body.  In many cases leaving loved ones with the financial burden your mistreatment of your disease created.

My life it is simple prioritization of options presented.  I choose to pay the cost of test strips and forego nicer clothes, car or home so that I can leverage time and my abilities.  I have learned that by managing my disease and not giving in to the constant upgrades or life supper-size opportunities that I ultimately achieve what other people expect and demand right now. Diabetics can’t afford to be spoiled when it comes to managing the disease.  In short, regardless of your financial situation, diabetes has to take priority over anything other than air and food.  The first is free so quit making excuses.

Checking blood sugar is a habit that must be formed.

Trey Stephens is a diabetes advocate who blogs at Outlaw Diabetic.

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