The Right Information
We're all scientists. We make observations and try to explain what we see. Sometimes we change things to see if we can make something different happen. Someone with diabetes trying to figure out why blood glucose levels are high, low, or somewhere in between is a scientist. So, what observations do you need to make to be a successful blood sugar scientist?
Six very important observations will be 1) your blood glucose monitoring results, 2) the timing and amount of carbohydrates you eat, 3) the timing and amount of physical activity you engage in, 4) the timing and severity of hypoglycemic episodes, 5) the timing and doses of your medications, and 6) information about changes in your health status, including illnesses and medical procedures. All of these factors go into the mix of things that cause your blood glucose to do what it does.
When you meet with your diabetes care provider, you form a team of scientists, doing your detective work using the information available. Good scientists know that more information will help them better understand what they're seeing and how to bring about a desired change. You have the information that's critical to defining problems and finding answers.
How do you most effectively collect your information and share it with your care team? My answer is simple. While I'm admittedly not a "techie," I have not seen a computer software program that can provide the wealth of information contained in a well-kept logbook, whether handwritten or typed into a computer-based format. A number of available formats make recording your observations quick and easy, and provide a "week-at-a-glance" summary of your information. Throw in up-to-date knowledge of your other health problems and your current medications, and you're ready to do some serious problem solving!
If you can find a software program or an app that helps you put all this together, that's great, but the task doesn't have to be complicated. (A note about downloading blood glucose meters at office visits: Blood glucose values in isolation—without information about meals, activity, medications, hypoglycemic symptoms, etc.—often raise more questions than they answer.)
In the absence of a good diabetes log, the effort required to assemble all this information can take up a big chunk of time during a clinic visit. Instead of spending precious time trying to remember why this blood sugar was high and that one was low, why not sit down for a few minutes each day to record some key pieces of information in your log? That way, you can spend more time during your visit working together to make life better. Bring your log, your meter, and your medications to every visit, and let's dominate the diabetes world!