Monday, 31 May 2010Ever had a puzzle that you just couldn't figure out? I've had a few of them in my time. I used to have a Rubik's cube, but I got so fed up of the damn thing that I ended up putting it in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We also used to own a puzzle that was actually a birthday present for my brother one year - it was a plastic box that had 3-D Tetris style pieces. The idea was to take the pieces out of the box, and then put them back in again. Most annoying puzzle ever. I think I couldn't have been any older than ten or eleven when this puzzle arrived in our house. I'm twenty-five now, and no-one in my family has ever managed to solve this thing.
Puzzles can be immensely frustrating, so it's completely understandable that sometimes people need help or clues to help them get through the difficult bits. Which is why I'm a huge advocate of testing.
The whole management of blood sugar is a huge puzzle - to get it to play fair, you've got to track it and learn to spot trends. Which is why I can't wrap my head around people who say you can test 'too much', or that testing more than four times a day makes you 'obsessive'.
I don't see it that way. We're all in the same game here, which is trying to manage this thing the best we can. How are you supposed to spot the clues to help you do that if you don't test? Personally I test at least seven times a day - before each meal, two hours after, and before bed. It quite frequently ends up being more than that. I would never just 'guess' at what my levels were, because I'm a human being, and I'm more likely than not to get it wrong. If I were to try and guess too often, and it turned out I was guessing wrong, what sort of damage could I be doing to myself?
No-one likes testing. I mean, come on - it does hurt, and there's no getting round that. It's not like we do these things for fun. So why are people testing more than four times a day doing it? Well, I can't speak for everyone else, but for me, it's so that I can feel that it's me in the driving seat, rather than diabetes. I don't want to leave these things down to chance. I carb count, so I need to test before and after, so I can check I've got the count right. I would also never not check before bed, because I need to make sure that I'm about 5mmol/l (90 mg/dl), otherwise I need to have a snack.
Aside from this, I add on any time I feel hypo or hyper, before I exercise, before I go out with Andrew on the back of the motorbike, if I'm not feeling well. I've also taken to testing at 15:00 when I'm at the office, as I tend to slump around then, and I want to make sure that I have a snack if it's appropriate.
Of course, there's only a point in testing if you know what the numbers mean, and know what to do with them. Otherwise, your meter might as well sing Baa Baa, Black Sheep to you. But if you know what the deal is? Well then I firmly believe that then you should have the ability and necessary supplies to test as much as you need to.
Would I call that obsessive? Nope, not a chance. I don't think it's obsessive, when it's under the provisos that I've just mentioned. It's proactive. I thoroughly believe that I'm being proactive in looking after my health and my future. We're in a social climate now where we're all being encouraged to take control of our own health and well-being. So when you've got maintaining the best blood sugar management that you're able to, added into the mix, then surely that's just following advice generally given to everyone? After all, it's not easy, and sometimes we all need a few extra clues.