Well, as most of you SHOULD KNOW, last Thursday was World Diabetes Day.
SIDE NOTE: Halfway through the day, I discovered November 14th has only been a holiday since 2006. So… it’s starting to make more sense why more than 80% of you aren’t celebrating it.
With that said, I had no problem remembering to celebrate. As a part of my holiday festivities, I went to an event at Lankenau Hospital with a very interesting speaker – a type I diabetic who has climbed Mount Everest several times. His main message can be summed up quickly: “Diabetes doesn’t have to be a limitation. Take care of your diabetes so that you can do the things you LOVE to do.”
This man has changed my perspective on diabetes self care entirely. For instance, every morning and night he checked his blood sugar in a tent perched on the side of a ice wall. During the day, he peed on ketone sticks to monitor his blood glucose while he hiked. He carried extra water and more food than the other non-diabetic climbers. Insulin pumps malfunction at high altitudes, so he gave insulin manually and kept it in a separate thermos so that it wouldn’t freeze at the arctic temperatures. He found a way to manage his diabetes at an altitude that was literally debilitating.
I have some people with diabetes tell me that they can’t check their blood sugar because they’re “busy at work.” This is a lame excuse. I know we can all get busy; but I am tempted to ask them if they also have a problem remembering to go to the bathroom as well. After all, going to the bathroom can take significantly MORE time than stopping to check their blood sugar.
I don’t ask if they forget bathroom breaks because I know the answer. We don’t pee our pants at work.
The reason we don’t pee our pants at work is because when we were little we learned that it was necessary to adapt and compensate for this human limitation. Bladders only hold so much, so long. Therefore, we stop working for a few minutes when we need to go to the bathroom instead of ignoring it like a 3 year old might be prone to do.
Why do adults act differently than 3 year olds? It’s simple. As adults, we can foresee a natural consequence to de-prioritizing bathroom breaks. This consequence is enough to keep us in line.
Here’s the kicker…You can use the same skill to make your diabetes management skills a priority.
After all, a habit of not checking your blood sugars ALSO has a foreseeable consequence. It may not happen immediately, but it DOES happen eventually. Trust me, nobody wants to deal with complications.
Monitoring blood sugar = Less risk for Complications
Research has shown that seven self management skills SIGNIFICANTLY decrease the risk of developing complications for persons with diabetes. These skills are:
- Healthy Eating
- Physically Active
- Monitoring Blood Sugar
- Compliant with Medications
- Good Problem Solving Skills
- Healthy Coping Skillls
- Risk Reduction Skills
Notice “monitoring blood sugar” is included as one of these vital skills. It’s important.
Fact: You consistently make time to go to the bathroom during the day. I think a task that helps you prevent blindness, amputation, renal disease, heart attacks, and stroke is WELL WORTH the same inconvenience that you take to avoid the embarrassment of having to change your pants.
You can make these grown-up adjustments. I’m sure of it. The man from Mount Everest convinced me of it.
Sorry folks. You’re “excuses” for not checking your blood sugar have just been invalidated.