Say what? Am I really sitting here reading all these headlines about how glucose testing supposedly makes no difference for treating diabetes? No. Worse. That it could actually be harmful to diabetics because they’re more likely to become anxious or depressed if they check regularly?
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but drawing this kind of doofus conclusion that subsequently gets splattered all over front page media just makes me soooo mad.
This story originated in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal. In a project known as the ESMON study, British researchers investigated the relationship between self-monitoring of blood sugar, actual blood sugar control and mental health. They used just under 200 people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, split them into two groups, one that monitored and one that didn’t.
“Those who were self-monitoring had significantly higher scores of depression at the end of the study (by 6%), but there was no difference in levels of anxiety, general well-being or energy.”
Yeah, well, they probably weren’t keen on being under pressure to test all the time, especially being so new to the whole D-game.
I think I’ve told this story before, but I keep flashing back to that old college friend of mine who was diagnosed with Type 2 last year while I was writing my book. He’s an educated guy who runs the IT department of a small private university. He called for a tip, embarrassed. Turns out he was sent home with a glucose meter, but given no idea what it really was supposed to do for him.
“I keep getting these numbers, and writing them down. They’re mostly pretty high. So what does it mean? What do I do with this information?”
I nearly screamed into the phone.
Clearly, glucose testing does absolutely NOTHING for you if you don’t know what to do with the results. It’s just a bunch of useless numbers that your doctor may or may not scold you over. And why would you even consider it when you read all these reports about how testing’s going to lower your quality of life?
I think all the glucose meter companies should get behind this one: we need a national awareness campaign about what the heck to do with your glucose meter (other than stare at it and get depressed). Let’s push the education agenda, rather than just new models with fancy features.
Most of us Type 1s are all over it, since we have little choice. Allow me then to provide a couple of very basic tips — straight from our book — that you all might like to share with any diabetic family or friends who haven’t gotten a proper education about translating meter results into better health:
* test before and after specific foods or meals – you can gauge how that food effects you, and maybe cut down on it, quit it, or plan to eat it before exercising (to offset the BG spike).
* test before and after exercise – to gauge how that activity effects your blood sugar. You may not need a snack every time you go for a walk after all, for example.
* test at same time(s) every day – look for trends. Are you always high after dinner? Always low before bedtime? Now adjust your food or medications to compensate.
* remember, your A1c tells you how you’re doing overall, but doesn’t tell you diddly-squat about your day-to-day routine. Only individual daily glucose results can indicate whether you need to consider changing your breakfast menu and/or scheduling your exercise for a different time of day.
* by the way, it might help to think of it as “Glucose Checking” versus “Testing.” It gives you information, not a valuation of your worth. No need to feel that you have to “pass” every diabetes-related test you take.
Heck, we all know that diabetes studies can lead to confusion. I just wish they’d be a little more careful about blasting out the message that the best tools we’ve ever had for diabetes care aren’t worth using. Aaarggh.