CURE IN ABOUT FIVE YEARSUnlike
today, persons with Diabetes didn't have the ability to check our own
blood sugars . Even with the difficulty that comes with keeping blood
sugar levels stable, the availability of glucose meters allowing Diabetics,
a moments notice, to
check our own blood sugar levels has
been had a revolutionary impact on my life.
Growing up the only time I had my sugar levels checked came from my monthly visit to my doctor. They were taken during the time of day when they were usually at their highest. Since I always tested high, I was prescribed a large dose of "long acting" insulin (one that would work slowly, throughout the day). The reason that I always tested high in the morning was because I experience a dramatic rise in blood sugar around 4 AM brought on by the activation of hormones especially if my blood sugar levels had dropped to low during the night, this phenomena is called the "dawn effect" or "Somogyi". The exercise from my newspaper route, that would normally would be a good thing for my Diabetes, but would cause my hormones to rise even further and the time spent on the long ride to the clinic caused them to rise higher still. On normal mornings this would be the time I would be taking insulin, eating breakfast and getting ready for school. The mornings I was tested however, I would not have anything to eat to give a "fasting" baseline result for the test. So in short, I was on way too much insulin causing my blood sugars to fall low for hours on end. This wasn't due to anyone's mismanagement or fault, It was just because the tools Diabetics needed to properly regulate our blood sugars, hadn't been invented.
The only thing available were strips that you would dip in a glass of urine, if these would change color it meant that you had excessive sugar in your body. There was nothing from the test that could tell you that you were normal or low, even extremely low. The other problem with the tests were that they represented an average of where your blood sugars had been since you last urinated, for example you could have a meal, then afterward your blood sugar levels would rise and then fall and be low for hours later. Unfortunately your tests would include the one period when they were high.
I recorded my test results in a little note book that I would show my doctor every visit, if my tests were consistently high, which they usually were, he would increase my insulin dosage, and I knew that would lead to even more episodes of falling into blood sugar lows and "zoning out" in school. For at least somewhat accurate results it would be best if would just empty myself of urinate, then drink some liquids and wait around until I needed to, and then test.
Since I was expected to do this at least four times a day I found a much easier alternate method of rationalizing high test results by fudging my numbers when I wrote them down. Since there were so many times I would fall into a severe low even though I had just tested where my results would be high. My log book therefore reflected more my "opinion" of what my tests should be, or even "forgetting" to enter particularly high tests.
I had already started holding back on the amount of insulin I would give myself, especially if I knew that I was going to do something physical, today this adjustment is called taking insulin on a "sliding scale" according to a guesstimate of what dosage might be needed, but back then I simply thought of it as cheating.
I knew what I was doing was going against my doctors orders, but I also knew that falling into perpetual blood sugar lows was pulling me further from developing into a normal human being. I also resented going through so much work for something that I knew was so inaccurate. There was a time when I had an appointment with my doctor who had a substitute filling in his place. This doctor took a look at my log book, he saw through all my cheating when he commented on all of the blank spaces where I had "forgotten" to write down tests. He looked me straight in the eyes and in a stern voice said, "do you realize how serious your Diabetes is and what it can do to you in the long run"? I knew, I'd read all the literature, and I knew he was trying to scare me, but I also sensed that he was speaking to me as one adult to another based on his personal experience of treating too many patents, who had come down with the complications of this disease.
When I left his office, I didn't feel I needed to "try a little bit harder", because I was trying as hard as I could, and it was turning me into an antisocial freak. His truthful attitude rather than making me feel inspired, made me feel simply, doomed.
With personal blood testing meters, Diabetics can make accurate checks of their glucose levels several times a day. The "convenience" of taking large doses of long term insulin one or two times a day has been replaced by taking four or five injections of short term insulin to cover meals and much smaller doses of the long term to last throughout the day or by the programming an insulin pump to release more insulin. The sad part of all this is the huge expense of test strips. Even though these life-saving supplies cost mere pennies to manufacture, they are unaffordable for most of the people who need them, even in America and of course the third world.