New Diabetic Crash Course 101
Recently a friend on facebook asked me what she could do for her friend who's son was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I believe she said the son is four. I can't reread her question because she has since deleted the comment from my page.
This question had me thinking for a few days. And my response is, I don't know. My best answer is, be there for moral support for your friend. There is really nothing more you can do (especially since I later learned her friend lives in another state.) But as I mentioned, that question got me thinking. What would I say to a person newly diagnosed with diabetes? For instance, what would I say to this lady if I got the chance to sit down to coffee with her? Well, I thought of A LOT I would say to her, thus this blog.
Books can be written and have been written on the topic of diabetes and what you should know about it. This blog is simply going to focus on what my friend's friend should know about diabetes and what she can do for her little boy. I AM NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR (although I am a juris doctor), so these comments are merely my opinion based on my own personal experience. These comments should NOT take the place of a medical expert or doctor. They are merely building blocks in your understanding of diabetes.
Learn as MUCH about diabetes as you can. Read as many books as you can get a hold of. Diabetes has a sharp learning curve. Join support groups and talk with other diabetics. But with everything you learn and hear from another diabetic, take it with a grain of salt. Everyone is different, so everyone's experiences with diabetes will be different.
You can't know everything and you will not be a perfect diabetic. Okay I know I just said learn as much as you can and that diabetes has a sharp learning curve, but unless you are a diabetes medical expert, its just unlikely you are going to learn all there is to know. Although you want to have your diabetes under control, diabetes is uncontrollable and that is because life is uncontrollable. Things are going to happen in your life that are completely out of your control and that is going to affect your diabetes. What you need to do is be patient and be prepared for it. And that loops right back to learning as much as you can as quick as you can.
Okay enough Yoda talk, here is some actual information about diabetes. High blood means you need Insulin. A diabetics best friend is Insulin, followed by food. Your doctor will tell you where your blood sugar should be, but generally it is anywhere between 80-120. Typically 80 is a good number before you eat, and 120 is a good number an hour after you eat. I would say anything (FOR MYSELF) up to 160 is still a good number. Anything above 160 is too high. However, there are times, as you will learn, when a higher blood is good.
Things that will make your blood high are: food, specifically carbs, not having enough insulin, stress, and sad, depressed or unhappy feelings.
I know I just said a higher blood may be good, however a HIGH blood is not. High bloods are bad. There is a saying that a low blood sugar will kill you now, but high bloods will kill you slowly. Its true, high bloods cause all the horrible complications that diabetics often develop. I will save the horrific details for another blog, but in general, do your best to keep your blood sugars within a healthy range.
The symptoms of a high blood sugar are, tired, sluggish, headache, your body may feel achy, you may feel grumpy and general feelings of crap. If you feel like your blood is high, TEST YOUR BLOOD FIRST before you take any Insulin. Your body is great at tricking you and you may actually have a low blood.
DON"T BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER A HIGH BLOOD
Even though high bloods are really bad for you, don't beat yourself up over a high blood test result. You test your blood and its high, what do you do? Freak out? WRONG. Freaking out is stressing out and stress is diabetics worse enemy. Stress will make your blood more high. What you need to do is realize its high and take care of it, move forward. Your blood sugars will go up and down and drive you crazy, but always keep moving forward, don't dwell on it.
EXERCISE or any PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
A higher blood might be good if you are going to be engaging in an activity such as exercise. Physical activity will lower your blood (however this is diabetes, and diabetes is uncontrollable, so it may not...but that's another issue I'll get to in a minute). If you are going to engage in physical activity test your blood before you do it. For example, if you are going to go for a walk or jog, test your blood sugar first. If it is below 120 I would eat a small snack first (this number however is different for different people!). While on your walk or jog, be aware of how you feel, if you feel the symptoms of a low blood sugar, test your blood again (you should always have your diabetes supplies with you). When you complete your physical activity, you will need to test your blood again.
The effects of exercise can stay in the body for over 24 hours, so be aware of that, how you feel, and know that the walk you took 3 hours ago can still drop your blood sugar.
I said before that exercise may NOT lower your blood sugar. If your blood is too high (studies say anywhere from 250-350+) it is not healthy to exercise. There is a great medical reason for this that I'm not completely clear on, I'll have to research it more and write another blog on it another time. If your blood is too high it can actually be dangerous to exercise. If that is the case, lower your blood with insulin first.
Even light exercise can lower your blood. When I was a little girl, if my blood was high before dinner time, my mom made me walk up and down our block a few times. This actually dropped my blood a decent amount without a lot of effort.
Another great way (for me at least) to lower your blood a little, is to sit quietly and focus on my breathing, deep breaths in and long breaths out. This is probably lowering my blood because I am relaxing, and stress (the complete opposite of relaxing) raises your blood.
Oh and unlike stress, which will raise your blood, adrenaline will lower it. So be careful watching those scary movies or riding roller coasters!
Just like a high blood, we don't want low bloods. I would say a low blood is anything below 80 (but this is different for everyone). If your blood is low, eat. But the thing with eating with a low blood, you are going to over eat. When your blood is low you feel like you are starving and no matter how much you eat, you haven't eaten enough (until you have eaten almost a whole box of cereal by yourself, and then you just feel like crap).
There is a rule with low bloods, it is the 15 15 rule. Eat 15 grams of carbs and wait 15 minutes. Take your blood after 15 minutes, if its still low eat 15 more carbs and wait 15 more minutes and repeat the process. FYI, this is an extremely hard rule to follow, even for myself. Your mind is very good at telling you to eat more. And when your blood is low, EVERYTHING taste good, so watch out. If your blood is TOO low, for instance you are unresponsive then someone may have to give you a glucagon shot. I fortunately have never needed this, however my sister has had to have it many times. Low Bloods can kill. If your blood sugar level becomes too low you could slip into a diabetic coma, and possibly die. I don't mean to scare anyone, but its very important that you know.
The symptoms of a low blood sugar are, weakness, sweatiness, dizziness, goofiness and general feelings of crap. If you feel like your blood is low, TEST YOUR BLOOD FIRST before you eat anything. Your body is great at tricking you and you may actually have a high blood.
I already mentioned being prepared for the craziness that is diabetes, but this is so important I have to say it again. Things to ALWAYS carry with you: Blood testing kit with extra batteries, lancets, test strips, some kind of hand sanitizer, Insulin (if you wear a diabetic pump, the supplies for that), syringes (even if you use a pump, always carry syringes), and snacks.
LOUD AND PROUD
Don't be ashamed that you have diabetes. Everyone is different (I think I said that a couple times), and I don't expect everyone to yell from the mountain tops about their diabetes, but don't be afraid to tell people you have it. Telling people you have diabetes is a chance to educate them. There are so many misconceptions about diabetes it drives me crazy, particularly the one that its a fat person's disease.
You'll be surprised, there are a lot of diabetics out there. I knew a girl for 2 or 3 years through law school and found out AFTER law school that she was diabetic. The only reason I found out is because I sent out a mass email asking people to sponsor me in the American Diabetes Association walk.
I bring this point up specifically because my friend deleted her comment from my facebook page because she didn't know if I felt uncomfortable about sharing my diabetes with the rest of my facebook friends. While I really appreciate her thoughtfulness, I don't keep my diabetes a secret (obviously) and I am not ashamed for anyone to know I have it. If anyone were to think less or differently of me because I have diabetes, they are either ignorant and need to be educated or just ridiculous--but again, I do appreciate her thought.
There you have it...my personal crash course for a new diabetic. Lastly, my comment directly to my friend's friend, the mom of the newly diagnosed diabetic; this is really a blessing in disguise. I know its impossible to look at it that way, but if he had to "get" diabetes, four is the perfect age. He is still young enough that you can mold healthy eating habits in him and a good outlook towards physical activity. Honestly, because of the strict healthy diets and exercise a truly controlled diabetic lifestyle requires, your son has the potential to be an extremely healthy individual.
So I need to work better on my own day to day daily diabetic activities.
I only took my blood four times today. My blood ranged from 51-399 (TOO low and TOO high)
On the plus side I did go for a bike ride, I washed my car, and I did 40 minutes on my elliptical today.