Diabetes? Oh no! Nobody likes to hear that he or she has been diagnosed with diabetes, but the good news is that there are things you can do to prevent it from worsening too quickly and ways to stay on top of the disease. One of the most important things you can do is check your blood sugars. I know nobody likes to prick his or her finger, but it is the only way to know what your blood sugar is doing. And there are newer machines now that use just a small drop of blood and one that you can even get the sample from your forearm, which is less painful than your fingertips. Normal blood sugars range 70-125. So that would be the ideal level to have yours at. Blood sugar naturally elevates when we eat, so it is a good idea to check your blood sugar at different times of the day to see if it is going a lot higher after meals. Then after you check the blood sugar, write it down along with the time of day and if it is before or two hours after a meal. You can then take this logbook to your doctor so he can see if any adjustments need to be made to your medications.
Speaking of doctors, it is a good idea to visit yours every three months if you have diabetes. Then you can have your HgbA1c (hemoglobin A 1 c) checked. This level is taken from your blood and tells you what your blood sugars have been averaging over the previous three months. So there is no cheating with this one! People without diabetes typically have a HgbA1c of 5.0 or less. For diabetics, an average below 7.0 is ideal. A range from 7.0-8.0 demonstrates a need for improvement, and anything over 8.0, is considered poor control. If your HgbA1c is over 8.0, that is the time to take a closer look at your diet and see how much you are cheating, monitor your level of exercise, and possibly adjusting your medications. The doctor will also check the bottoms of your feet for neuropathy (loss of sensation) by using a monofilament, which is a very fine instrument that “tickles” your feet.
Because diabetics are more prone to neuropathies (or loss of sensations, typically starting in the feet), it is a good idea to check your feet everyday. Using a hand mirror, you can look at both feet from all angles to check for any sores or open areas. If you do notice one, call your doctor right away. An eye exam once per year is also important to check for any changes to your eyes, even if you haven’t noticed any changes to your vision.
Diabetes management is one of the services that our nurses have a lot of knowledge in. If you need help using your glucose monitor, understanding what your diabetic medications are all for, or some dietary counseling, we can help you with that. Or if you just have questions, we are a resource you can use. Good luck at staying in good control!
Jennifer L. Harvey RN, BSN
Live Free Home Health Care
New Hampton, NH
Jennifer Harvey is a registered nurse and owner of Live Free Home Health Care in Central New Hampshire. LFHHC specializes in eldercare and in home care for people seeking to remain in their own homes. For more information, contact us online or call us at 603-217-0149 to learn more.