How to Check Your Blood Sugar

Regardless of what type of diabetes you have, you need to know how and when to take your blood sugar. It is one of the most important aspects of diabetes management.

Find the Right Meter

First thing first is to find the right glucose meter. I am not familiar with ones used by Type 1 diabetics, but I can definitely help you find one for Type 2. I have used two meters so far, Reli On and True Metrix.

My Reli On was from Walmart. It worked well enough, simple to use and easy to read. I loved the lancer and the lancets I used for it. The lancer looked nice and the lancets came in ultra thin which didn’t hurt my fingers that bad. I loved it. However, in January, I tried to get more glucose strips for my Reli On and my Walmart didn’t have any. For a whole week, they were completely out. I couldn’t wait for a shipment to come in or restock or whatever, so my husband went to CVS pharmacy and bought a True Metrix Air.

When I say I love my True Metrix, I mean it. I HATE the lancet. It’s ugly and the lancets that came with it are definitely not ultra thin. It hurt like a mother when I first pricked myself. I decided to never use that lancer again. So I use my Reli On lancer and the remaining ultra thin lancets with my True Metrix. The best thing about the True Metrix is that it has bluetooth connectivity and comes with an app on my iPhone. I check my blood sugar open my app and it logs the reading. It gives me an average of all my readings, let’s me know when my blood sugar is in range (it hasn’t been yet), and I can take notes about the dosage and which side I inject on my tummy.

My Personal Glucose Meter

I love my meter. Super convenient to keep track of my readings with the bluetooth function. I think I want to name her Trixie.

The True Metrix isn’t super cheap or expensive. It was around $20. I haven’t gotten a prescription to get one, but I think you might be able to get one. I don’t know how that works, bring it up with your doctor. Maybe you could get a prescription on the glucose strips too.

When you go to choose your meter, price is definitely one of the things to look for. I feel like anything over $25 is ridiculous. It better be able to make me some morning coffee for $25+.

My second requirement is aesthetics. If I have to look at this thing every day, I’d like it to look nice. True Metrix definitely fits that bill. The meter, the lancer, the lancets, and strips should look nice to me.

My last requirement is ultra thin lancets. Anything thicker and it hurts, no matter how warm my finger is before I prick it, it always hurts. The less painful it is, the better.

When to Check

Some of the best times to check your blood sugar are:

  • Mornings, before breakfast
  • 1-2 hours after a meal
  • Before, during, and after exercise – just to make sure your blood sugar doesn’t dip too low
  • Bedtime
  • Whenever you feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.

*** Also don’t forget: DO NOT reuse your lancets for more than one reading. If you didn’t draw enough blood the first time, I see no sense in using a new lancet for a second draw, but discard the lancet after you test your blood.***

Testing Your Blood Glucose

Before you use your glucose meter for the first time, you need to calibrate it. You should by calibrating solution for your meter and follow the directions in your device’s instruction manual.

After that is done, prepare your lancer and get a test strip from your bottle. Close the bottle immediately after removing a test strip and use the bottle within 30 days.

Before lancing, wash your hands with soap and warm water. The warm water will help to get your blood circulating so it will be easier to draw blood the first prick without having to lance again and use another test strip.

When choosing the spot to lance and draw blood, obviously choose your non-dominant hand. This poor hand is going to get poked and pricked a lot in the foreseeable future. Personally, I only use my middle, ring, and pinky fingers on my left hand, because I tend to not use those fingers as much as my index and thumb and it stings a little after lancing.

I suggest choosing a site on the sides of your fingers, avoid the pads and tips since they are the most sensitive.

Possible Lancing Sites

Choose the sides of your fingers (within the black circles) and avoid the pads and tips (the red areas).

Also be sure to remove any rings before lancing to maximize the blood flow in that finger.

Prepare yourself for the prick. Once you have lanced yourself, massage the palm directly below the finger and massage upwards so a droplet of blood comes from the site. Once there’s enough blood for the sample, put your test strip into your meter.

When the meter turns on, take the strip and put it up to the blood droplet. You don’t want too much that an error shows on your meter, but you don’t want too little either or an error message will show. If an error does occur, you need to get out a new test strip. Hopefully, you will be able to massage more blood from the original site. If not, you will have to lance again. Because my needles are ultra thin, it’s really hard to draw enough blood for a sample and if I don’t get it the first time, then I have to move to another site because it’ll be impossible to massage more blood from the same spot.

Discarding the Waste

Once the blood sample is in the strip it will take a few moments before the result pops up on the screen. Log that number down and what time it was that you took the reading. Once you’re done, remove the strip from the meter and discard it and the lancet you just used. Use a tissue to clean your finger of the blood. Once everything is put away, go ahead and wash your hands. Please don’t touch your face after drawing blood, you could have blood-borne pathogens and that would suck.

I use an empty laundry detergent container for my used needles and test strips. The plastic is hard enough that the needles won’t puncture and I don’t have to use one of those biowaste containers from the pharmacy. Whatever container you choose to use, make sure it’s made of durable plastic so the needles don’t puncture.

Congratulations, you just took your blood glucose reading. For a step-by-step visual process, feel free to check out YouTube. I like this video from Mayo Clinic. It’s a bit old but meters still work the same way. Maybe one day I’ll make my own video and post it on my YouTube channel but for now go ahead and find any one.

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How to Support Your Diabetic Loved Ones

There are many ways you can support your loved ones, it depends on the situations that surround your relationship. This is a general guide full of suggestions that can help you support the loved ones in your life who, just like me, are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I have no experience with supporting someone with Type 1 and I wish you the best of luck with your journey, hopefully these suggestions can help guide you in the right direction.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 is when the body cannot use insulin the way it should, also known as insulin resistance. The food we eat is broken down in to glucose which the body uses as fuel. The pancreas releases insulin to help get the glucose from your blood to the other cells in the body. When the body continues in-taking sugar, the pancreas creates excess insulin and eventually the body cannot keep up with production and that function becomes impaired and sugar begins building up in the bloodstream.

How do you manage it?

A photo of my sisters and I at my wedding having fun. We have fun when we're together and I love them.
My sisters and I at my wedding, laughing and having fun. We always have fun together, I don’t know what I would do without them.

Type 2 is managed using insulin, oral medications, and glucose monitors. Monitors are used at various times of the day to measure our blood sugar levels and can tell us if we are experiencing low-, high- or normal blood sugar levels. We use lancets to prick our finger to draw a drop of blood. We put a test strip in to our monitor and put it up to the drop of blood, hopefully it is enough of a sample, and the device reads it. For treatment, we take oral medications, mostly metformin. If we need an extra boost, we have a dose of insulin, which can be taken with every meal, at bedtime, or once a week.

What can I do to help in cases of emergency?

If we are having an emergency, it will most likely be the result of a low blood sugar episode. This could look like cold sweats, disorientation, fatigue, and light-headedness. This can be remedied with fast-acting glucose such as juice boxes, hard candy, glucose tablets, or any other sugary food or drink. On the extreme, we might have passed out and become unconscious. If this happens, call emergency services immediately. Hopefully we will have set up our Medical ID that can help emergency personnel treat us properly.

What can you eat?

Type 2 diabetics can eat whatever they choose to eat, as long as they mind the glycemic index (sugar content) or the amount of carbs in the foods they eat and the amount of insulin they need to inject after consuming food. Sugary foods and carbs are okay in MODERATION.

Beware of sugar-free, low-carb, etc labels. Just because it says sugar-free does not mean they are not filled with other alternatives. Most of the time when they say it is free of or low in something, companies have had to add something else to make it taste nearly the same to keep people coming back for more.

Most doctors will tell their patients that were recently diagnosed that they need to make a lifestyle change in order to control their blood sugar. My biggest advice for you is to support our new lifestyle. We may need to go out and exercise more, why not go on that walk around the neighborhood with us? We may need to cut out excess desserts from our diet, why not avoid eating sugary foods in front of us?

Please avoid micromanaging us, we know what we can and cannot eat. Please avoid chastising us, we know we shouldn’t eat that slice of pizza, just let us and make sure we don’t eat too much of it.

You do not need to tiptoe around us, just keep in mind that these changes could be drastically different from the lifestyle we lived before and it may be hard for us to change everything in our life in the beginning. Help make it easier for us, do it with us. Who knows, maybe that walk might help you keep diabetes away from yourself.

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