Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ready for a Tune-Up?


All of you diabetics out there know how hard it can be sometimes to stay motivated to maintain blood sugars. Sometimes taking care of myself just feels overwhelming and I get very anxious (which raises my blood sugars). Its so hard to break the cycle and get back into a rhythm of good blood sugars.

 In nursing school, I have taken care of a bunch of kids over in the Children's Hospital with advanced process Cystic Fibrosis. About once a year (and sometimes more often) these kids come in to the hospital for a 2 week "tune-up" to boost their chronic disease care. During the tune-up, they get IV antibiotics, bolus feeds, extra pancreatic enzymes for digestion, all sorts of respiratory therapies, and a variety of other medical and nursing interventions. Though this sort of hospital stay and "tune-up" isn't really applicable to diabetes, I sort of apply the same idea to my own care when I am feeling really unmotivated and unmanaged. I think the idea of a yearly "tune-up" can actually apply to all different types of chronic illness... and more often in the case of diabetes! 

To really perform a diabetes "tune-up," you need to have 3-5 consecutive days with a relatively empty schedule so you can devote much of your time to your blood sugars. Once you get back in control, management gets a lot easier, but for those first few days I feel like I need a lot of concentration.

 My tune-up involves giving up coffee for a 3-5 days, drinking half my body weight in ounces of water per day (this is about 2-3L of fluid which is the recommended amount of intake for most people), doing 1 hour of cardio exercise every single day, scheduled sleeping (8 hours per night!), eating at specific times (routines are great for blood sugars!)  and trying to eat a reduced number of carbohydrates per day.  I am NOT suggesting a no carb diet.... simply saying that if your blood sugars are high, try reducing the number of carbohydrates you consume by eating whole grains and "slow carbs" rather than sugar and "fast carbs. This hyper-focused approach helps me reign in those high and low blood sugars for a few days and get back to a level of management that is easy and carefree : ) Its also a really good idea to write down each and every blood sugar and everything you eat. This will help you track patterns of highs and lows, and also helps to identify health behaviors that you may not realize (such as snacking before checking your blood sugar!). Personal reflection is timely and sometimes difficult for people to do on a daily basis, so trying it during your "tune-up" is a good way to schedule it in. 

When I try to "tune-up" and really change my approach to my care for the better, I always schedule an appointment with the dietician over at the hospital. Though we all know how to count carbohydrates and feel like we could perhaps be a dietician for somebody else just based on the sheer number of hours we have spent listening to one, it is good to return each year because they can help re-educate and counsel us to make the best decisions for our bodies.

Think you know how to count carbohydrates?? TAKE THE QUIZ! http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/quiz/showQuiz.html?quizId=7


XOX Eileen

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