Knowing How To Bend-Without Breaking
Part 5 in a series about the ABCs of testing.
It's Murphy's Law. Just when you get your schedule down pat, something's going to come along to test you. Want proof? Here's an example of Murphy's Law in action. And here's another one. One more? Okay, here.
Well, if people with diabetes need to be anything, it's flexible. In addition to general equipment breakdowns and supplies running out, here are 3 big challenges you need to be ready for:
Whether it's by plane, train, or car, travel can be stressful in itself. Skip a few time zones, and it gets a little complicated. Talk to your doctor about how to adjust insulin and blood glucose tests if you cross time zones, because as you travel east you're shortening your day, and when you travel west it gets longer.
Waiting to reset your watch until the first morning in your new time zone will help you stick to your doctor's recommendations. And testing more than usual will let you know if your adjustments are working.1
Whether you're driving or flying, make sure you bring along a substantial snack in case food isn't available at mealtime, as well as double the necessary medication and testing supplies. And always test before you get behind the wheel of the car for a long trip—just in case.2
When you're sick or if you've had surgery, your body kicks into overdrive to help combat whatever ails you. As part of that response, extra sugar is pumped into your bloodstream. That's why it's important to stick as closely to your meal and medication plan as possible. Even if you don't feel up to eating, regular (not diet) ginger ale or mild starches can help you get the necessary carbohydrates.
Frequent testing, especially if you're vomiting or if your blood sugar is high, will help you regain control. Every couple hours, you should also check your urine for ketones, the harmful byproducts of the body's energy consumption. If your ketones are moderate to high or if you're sick for more than a day, make sure you talk to your doctor about what to do next.3
Any kind of emotional stress can undermine your self care, by making your blood sugar less predictable and making good control seem like less of a priority.
Those surprisingly high or low blood sugar readings can be caused by the hormones released when you're stressed. The answer isn't to stop testing—it's to test more regularly so you'll be able to take steps to bring your blood sugar back in line.4 Testing puts you in control, and that sense of independence is your best weapon in fighting stress.
1American Diabetes Association. When you travel. Available at: www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/when-you-travel.html. Accessed January 23, 2012.
2American Diabetes Association. Driving. Available at: www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-life/driving.html. Accessed January 23, 2012.
3American Diabetes Association. When you're sick. Available at: www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/who-is-on-your-healthcare-team/when-youre-sick.html. Accessed January 23, 2012.
4American Diabetes Association. Stress. Available at: www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/stress.html. Accessed January 23, 2012.