Testing, testing, 1, 2, 15?

I keep meaning to deviate off the diabetes and on to one of my other endocrine gremlins but things keep popping up. There are few things worse than the diabetic police. The absolute worse is when that police officer is another diabetic. The others I can laugh at, but the diabetic diabetes police make me want to throw my tea cup at the wall and that is no good because no one wants to waste a perfectly good cuppa.


There is a big debate online about how many blood tests a diabetic should do a day. There are only two people that get to decide that and that is the diabetic themselves and the doctor or DSN that is working with them. Many times I’ve done extra tests at the request of my team to gather information for them and I think perhaps unlike some I’ve been asked my by team specifically to do less testing.


I’ll let the stunned people have a moment to recover.


I saw many comments from people that felt the minimum a diabetic needs to do is 8 tests. ‘You’ don’t get to decide that for other diabetics. I find it quite rude that some are trying to do that in the first place. Some people put up lists to demonstrate when these tests are required and I can see why they need those tests but everyone’s lifestyles are different.  Suggestions are fine, telling what other diabetics can and can’t do and whether that makes them a ‘responsible’ diabetic or not isn’t. I don’t and can’t drive so that removes several tests a day that other diabetics might have to do. I don’t need to test during the night for any reason so that removes a test some do.  I don’t test two hours after I eat and that removes many tests. I think many would be shocked by that information but again, lifestyles are different and more importantly so are diabetic regimes. I take novorapid and that takes 4 hours to go through my system so if I test my blood 2 hours after I eat, considering how my MDI DAFNE regime works I gain…absolutely nothing. In fact, I put myself in grave danger of doing something stupid like interfering before my insulin has run its course and robbing myself of what might have been a perfectly good bg two hours later. I used to do that. I felt things starting to slip because of the dawn phenomenon which cannot be controlled for me without the use of an insulin pump (I don’t have it yet). I became obsessive about testing and did around 10 or 12 or 15 a day and then did really stupid things because of that. I became the biggest danger to my diabetes because I would test two hours after a meal, see a number out of target, panic and take insulin. Two hours later I’d be hypo. When I started leaving it alone for the full four hours, I was getting beautiful 7.0s in target.


I know that it is different on different regimes but on MDI, testing two hours after a meal can lead to problems for some. And for others, it is what they need or it just makes them feel more comfortable. That diabetic gets to decide that with the help of their team. My Doctor was very firm in telling me 18 months ago to stop with the extra tests. All I was doing was making myself anxious, aggravating other issues, and probably causing my emotions to upset things if my actions of interference didn’t. She was right. The minute I removed my oar, my levels sorted themselves out and it is me leaving them alone during the afternoons and evenings apart from when I eat or feel high/low that means my hba1c is in a stable enough condition to protect me from the complications my dawn phenomenon would just love to throw at me. My type 1 family members grew up when there was no blood glucose home testing so they didn’t grow up with the fear tactics I got about the numbers. They can look at a 13.0 and leave it alone to see what happens. I can’t. My anxiety kicks in and I panic and my hormones make my levels go high for real.


‘Overtesting’ as it was for me also caused problems for my doctors when they looked at the numbers because they found it impossible to follow. They had to try and find the breakfast reading in a haze of panicked tests. Afternoons were the worst for them. Even with diaries they struggled to find the tests that were actually any use to them and then they made me sit and think….about how many were actually of any use to me. At the time, not many. They didn’t even make me feel better or reassure me of anything. They caused anxiety, fear and depression. As soon as I cut out the ones I couldn’t do anything about and had nothing to do with how I felt, my situation improved a lot. I have very good awareness of what my levels are doing and when I am dipping or rising so  I don’t need to do 8-10 tests a day.  That is my diabetes. I average at 5, smack in the middle of the DAFNE range I was told I could stay healthy on.  I might be 10 two hours after I eat and I might be 16 but what that number will do in the next two hours is totally unpredictable for me so there is nothing I can do about it. If I am 20, trust me I will know all about it but even then, I’d be hesitant to interfere until I felt I really knew what was going on. And that is ok. That is my diabetes, my way, with my team and that is who gets to decide when I test and how many times and why.


Grem xx


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