I rely heavily on glucose monitoring in order to manage my diabetes. I check before, and two hours after every meal. I check before I go to bed, during the night and when I wake up in the morning. If there are times when my blood sugar is irregular, I find myself testing every hour. I have spoken out frequently about glucose monitoring, and how strongly I feel about it.
I was very keen to take part in the yourSAY (Self Management and You) research a few months ago, looking into the attitudes towards glucose monitoring in Australia. I was very much looking forward to reading the results that were released last week by Diabetes Australia, Abbott and JDRF Australia.
Monitoring my blood sugar has become second nature to me. I can’t say that I’ve ever lacked the motivation to test. I hardly even think about it anymore. Glucose monitoring is not something that I see as a choice. It’s a way of life.
In that regard, I was surprised at how many people reported that they became “tired” of glucose monitoring. I think I’m more “tired” of diabetes itself. Diabetes is to blame for the lows that force me to stop what I’m doing. The stubborn highs that just won’t go down. The nights where my sleep is interrupted by blood sugar swings. The food that I feel guilty for eating. My glucose meter is only the messenger, telling me what’s going on. My meter gives me a sense of control over the unpredictability of diabetes, and I wouldn’t want to live without it. (Unless diabetes is cured, of course. Then I would love to live without it…)
While my attitude remains unchanged, glucose monitoring is without a doubt inconvenient. When I’m sitting at my desk at home with my meter within arms reach? Easy. When I’m going out for a few hours, and forced to carry that crap around with me? Not so much. I’ll often leave my stuff at home and fly blind for a few hours just for the sake of convenience. I would love to see an affordable, minimalistic device that offered greater convenience while travelling.
I was also interested to read that type 1s checked their glucose on an average of 6 times each day. Yet our National Diabetes Services Scheme only subsidises 5 test strips per day. 2 in 3 people do not always check their glucose as recommended by their GP. The survey itself highlighted a number of benefits of glucose monitoring in managing diabetes: adjusting insulin, managing illness, avoiding hypos or hypers, and peace of mind. Yet I was once made to feel guilty for purchasing too many test strips. Surely, removing these limits would be the first logical step towards encouraging glucose monitoring?
Finally, I was disappointed that these findings did not outline or commit to any solutions to lessen the “burden” of glucose monitoring. I can only hope that this research will trigger conversations and change in the not too distant future, for the sake of the people who took the time to contribute their valuable and personal insights.