How can we tell whether our blood sugars are well controlled or not? Based on my experience, people with good control in their blood sugars have a certain characteristic or attitude. The following are 9 traits in people who have good control in their blood sugars.
1) You know what is your hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)
You know who you are. And maybe you don’t remember this as the HbA1C and simply call it the 3 month average. Think of the blood sugar testing you do each day as a snap shot of your diabetes and the HbA1C as the big picture. If you’re still not sure what this is, check out the definition from Mayo Clinic.
2) You tell the truth to your healthcare provider
You can lie about your diet or medication compliance but the numbers do not lie. I have patients of mine who would falsely write their blood sugars in their book but when the next lab work comes back and the numbers don’t match, you end up in a very awkward situation.
A person who has well controlled blood sugar or actively engaged to controlled their blood sugar will be truthful about their diet, lifestyle, and medication use. Who hasn’t had a cheat day? Who doesn’t want to get more exercise? Who doesn’t miss their medication. The fact is most of us do at least one of the above questions (maybe more than one) but we own our experience and admit it.
3) You are obsessed about your next hemoglobin A1C
I’ve talked to some patients (namely type 1 diabetics) who are obsessed about their HbA1C. Regardless of what their HbA1C actually is, these patients are engaged in their diabetes management; there is celebration when they achieve their goal and disappointment when they miss it.
4) You start fine tuning your insulin
You know your own body better than anybody, including any of your healthcare provider. The truth is, as a healthcare providers, we only see our patients once every few months but there is a lot of day-to-day variations or situations where we need to properly manage ourselves without relying on our healthcare provider. For example, if you sugar is only 4.6 mmol/L and it’s lunchtime, do you give your regular full dose of meal-time insulin or do you make some adjustments. Those who feel empowered and fine tune their insulin dose daily are more actively engaged in controlling their blood sugars and will likely have better results. Please however speak to your healthcare provider in making adjustments on your own to get some guidance and fine tuning may not be suitable for everybody.
5) You avoid lows at all costs
Having high blood sugars for a long time will cause heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, or nerve pain. But having a low blood sugar can have immediate consequences, such as confusion, seizure, coma, and even death! Neither high or low blood sugars is encouraged but you know rule number one is to avoid the lows.
6) Nobody can tell you what you can or can’t eat
Do you have that annoying family member or care provider who tells you can’t have dessert because you’re diabetic? What’s most annoying is they are not even diabetic yet somehow they seem to know what is best for you.
Now I’m not judging whether it’s right or not to have that dessert but you know your body the best and you will know how the food you eat affects your blood sugar. Somebody who is in command of their blood sugars will be able to figure out the math in their minds – a precise calculation of what the dessert will do to their blood sugars. A person with well controlled diabetes will enable their own diet, enjoy the foods they like, and also take appropriate steps to satisfy a sweet tooth.
7) You don’t feel different because of your diabetes
The first time you had to check your blood sugar or do you insulin injection in public, you’re likely reminded that you’re different. You scan around to see if anybody is staring at you. You try to do it quickly as if to draw minimal attention. Heck, you may even intentionally not bring your glucometer when you go out because it’s too much work or you don’t want to make yourself look different than everybody else.
A person who is well controlled however will see it differently – they don’t see any difference. They accept diabetes and know it’s important for them to bring their glucometer in case they get a low blood sugar. They accept the insulin injection because it’s part of their health. They do not think or even care as to how they will be perceived because if somebody gives an awkward glance, it’s a reflection of their inner insecurity.
8) They know their medications
Somebody who has well controlled blood sugars will understand their medications very well. They will be able to tell you the metformin is the large white tablet, the gliclazide (Diamicron®) is the long, white tablet, or their meal-time insulin is the orange and navy blue pen. Medications are a cornerstone in the management of diabetes and somebody who has great blood sugar control are very well versed in terms of their medications.
9) You know your sick day medications
As a diabetic, you need to pay special attention to your medication and diet when you are sick. A person with well controlled blood sugar has a proactive mindset and plans ahead. Failing to plan is planning to fail and you need to have a plan on how to manage your medications and diet when you are sick. You may have heard of some special instructions on what to do with your medications when you are sick. Specifically, you recall there are a few medications where you need to stop temporarily and over-the-counter medications to avoid. If you need a refresher or have not heard of these special instructions, please visit our guide on sick day medications.
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