How Important is Self Blood Glucose Monitoring when You Have Diabetes


How important is self blood glucose monitoring when you have diabetes? You may not want to hear this, but in my opinion, self blood glucose monitoring is not an option. It’s some­thing you must do, along with never missing your insulin injection. It’s that important for the diabetic.
“But taking my insulin injection saves my life,” you may say. “Self blood glucose monitoring doesn’t; it can’t be as important.” If this is what you’re thinking, here’s a lesson m my school of hard knocks.

Do you have a Commission for the Blind in your commu­nity or state? How about a kidney dialysis clinic? If you don’t know and feel no need to because, after all, you are in good shape and you believe your diabetes is under control, hold it t there. If you are not aware of the local dialysis clinic or state agency for the blind, maybe you should be. If you are not monitoring your blood glucose every day, you probably will need these services in your lifetime. I apologize for being harsh, but there simply are no excuses for not monitoring our blood glucose. I make a very convincing case for this using myself as example. But first, look at a few familiar :

Excuse 1: I’m simply not going to test my blood glucose. I don’t want another hole in my body.
Excuse 2: No way. That lancet is painful.
Excuse 3: Why should I monitor my blood glucose? What in the world would this tell me anyway?
Excuse 4: No. I control my diabetes strictly with insulin and exercise.
Excuse 5: I just don’t have time for it. It’s too much of a hassle.

I used all these excuses. I’m still very healthy and quite alive. I’m in excellent shape, actually. And my diabetes is under excellent control now because I test my blood glucose two or three times every day. I’m also totally blind from com­plications of diabetic retinopathy. Could I have saved my eye­sight by checking my blood glucose earlier? Because the nature of diabetes is not fully understood, no one can answer this question with an unequivocal ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ But for now, we have an important management tool, blood glucose moni­toring, if we only use it.

Sadly, a Gallup survey in 1994 revealed that only 56 per­cent of diabetics monitor their blood glucose; and of those, an average of just 1.2 times per day. This is well below the Amer­ican Diabetes Association guidelines which recommend that Type 1 diabetics test their blood glucose three to four times a day. Type 2 diabetics should monitor their blood glucose level one to two times a day, the ADA says.

Diabetes is best managed with insulin (or oral medica­tions), diet, and exercise. However, without blood glucose monitoring, there’s no way to know how much insulin, food, or exercise you need to keep your blood glucose in control. Serious complications may occur that can lead to death.

Unfortunately, I can’t unconditionally say you will have absolutely no problems with your diabetes if you monitor your blood glucose faithfully. But I know for a fact you have a much better chance at close control of your diabetes, thus reducing the chance of complications, by diligently monitor­ing blood glucose and doing everything possible to keep val­ues near normal.

Blood glucose monitoring was one of the key aspects of the DCCT study. For nine years, people in the intensively treated group tested their blood four to seven times a day and adjusted their insulin, food intake, or activities accordingly. They even performed spot-checks once a week at 3 a.m. On the other hand, those in the conventionally treated group tested their blood once a day, but the results were not used to adjust their insulin doses. As you read earlier, the intensively treated group, which strived for normal blood glucose levels, experienced a reduction of long-term complications by up to 60 percent.

Now, frequent blood glucose monitoring is not the sole answer to reducing or minimizing complications, but it is vital to controlling diabetes. In fact, the advent of self blood glucose monitoring is the greatest advance in diabetes care since the introduction of insulin almost 80 years ago.

Strict control of diabetes is achieved through self blood glu­cose monitoring, careful insulin management, and a healthy meal plan and exercise program. I admit it’s easy to fudge on the diabetic meal plan. Eating out, fast food, and social events sometimes make the diet hard to manage. With exercise, too often we get “gung ho” about a program for a couple of weeks or months, then let it fall by the wayside. After work, we are sometimes just too exhausted for exercise.

But, when it comes to insulin injection and blood glucose test time, there can be no fudging. You must always make time. I am talking honestly and realistically here. As a dia­betic myself, I realize life is full of complexities, time sched­ules, deadlines, and a million other activities. However, testing your blood glucose must be as important as taking your insulin. It must be a habit-as normal as eating and sleeping.