March 9th, 2016, Vigilance is Key

Vigilance is necessary in order to manage diabetes. The disease is progressive and if left un-checked complications arise. Blindness, nerve disorders, amputations, renal failure, stroke and eventually death are some consequence of not controlling diabetes.

To keep my diabetes in check, I follow the following regimen: Guard

  • Daily:
    • Check glucose levels and blood pressure using a Glucose Monitor (to check the sugar level in the blood) and a blood pressure apparatus (check systolic, diastolic and heart rate beats per minute). (See my journal on testing tools I use). Blood sugar level should be under 100 mg/dl (milligram/deciliter). In my case, it fluctuates from 100 to 135.
    • To check blood sugar, requires a step that makes many cringe. You have to prick your finger to get a drop of blood. Fortunately
      , thanks to modern technology, the devices to prick fingers use very fine needles (30 to 33 gauge). The Glucose Monitor devices require less blood. The test strip where you put the blood is a marvel of technology as well. It warns if not enough blood is placed on the test strip, and there is no need to calibrate them. In the end, one can hardly feel any pain from the needle, and testing has become a breeze.
    • Blood pressure monitors are very inexpensive. For less than $100, one can purchase a variety of choices – around the wrist, around the arm, etc. I use a digital device made by Omron and it records results for two individuals separately. It has a memory that automatically stores tests results. It is also a good idea to bring the monitor to the doctor’s office and calibrate it with their test equipment.
  • Quarterly:
    • I visit my doctor, at least once every 3 to 4 months. The doctor orders blood work to check for
      • cholesterol (LDL and HDL)
      • A1C
      • Kidney function
      • Urine
      • Stool
      • Liver function
      • Glucose levels
    • I usually get my blood work several weeks before my appointment. This gives time for the lab to send the test results to my doctor. During the visit, the doctor discusses the tests results and if necessary, adjust dosage for the medications I take. At the end of the visit, he orders blood work for the next office visit.
  • Annually:
    • I visit an optometrist although it is okay to go to an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor specializing in the diseases of the eye). The screening done during the visit is to check if there is any sign of damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy), in addition to the normal check for glaucoma, cataract and diabetic macular edema. Any one of these could lead to blindness, so it is very important that this exam take place on a regular basis.
    • I also go to a podiatrist specializing in foot disorders due to diabetes. There are two things to watch out for – peripheral arterial disease and peripheral neuropathy. These affect the nerves that interferes with sensations of pain and temperature. If left undetected and untreated, it could lead to foot amputations. For more information on foot complications from diabetes, visit: http://www.medicinenet.com/foot_problems_diabetes/article.htm#diabetes_and_foot_problems_facts
    • Another common issue with diabetic patient is high cholesterol and blood pressure. An annual exam by a cardiologist helps ensure that the medications I am taking are effective.