Frustrated By Blood Glucose Inconsistency?
Last updated: September 2020
If there’s a single concern I hear most often, as a certified diabetes educator counseling patients, it is with the frustrating unpredictability of blood glucose levels. You know, doing the same thing from one day to the next, and getting markedly different results on your blood glucose meter. Or, as most describe this experience, doing everything “right” and getting “bad” results. It’s my job to talk my patients “off the ledge,” so to speak, and they can be quite upset. Chances are that you find yourself upset by this same inconsistency now and then. Boy, do I understand!
Dealing with inconsistent blood glucose readings
I experience the same frustrations, certainly weekly, and probably daily if I really think about it. Frequently, there are times when my blood glucose levels make no sense. And, I’m an “expert!” With decades of experience! And, most likely I have more effective “tools” to manage blood glucose than you – I can dial up any sized dose of insulin with the push of a button on my insulin pump controller. So, how can I help you get more consistent and logical results from your BG meter? Well, I can’t. What I can do, however, is help you look at this issue differently.
Change of attittude about blood glucose readings
First, I’ll skip over the possible explanations. It’s good to know intellectually that our bodies aren’t machines, and that stress and illness and hormones and who knows what else (weather?) affect our metabolism. And, no doubt the way we mix foods when we eat can affect digestion. These “informational” explanations don’t seem to blunt the “emotional” reaction we have to seeing an unexpectedly high blood glucose result. What does help, however, is to reframe our thinking.
- Do you call the act of sampling blood for glucose results “testing” blood sugar? If you do, you probably also consider the unexpected result a “failure” – or maybe a D minus. Try substituting the word “checking” blood sugar – getting information without judgement. This is not a test.
- Golfers tend to focus on the shot that barely nicked a tree branch and fell into the rough, and forget the shot that ricocheted off of four trees and kicked out into the middle of the fairway. Chances are we have as many (or more) unexpected “in range” blood glucose readings – we just don’t remember them, but we should.
- Remember A1C – a reasonable representation of your average blood glucose levels, even when you’re not looking. Managing diabetes effectively is about averages.
I can promise you a change of attitude about your blood glucose results will help. I can also promise you that you’ll need to remind yourself of this now and then – just like I do.
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