The ‘Ol Peek and Poke…

I have frequently had people ask me how often I test my blood sugar levels in the course of a day. Truthfully, I’ve gotten this question from a number of Diabetics as well. Blood glucose testing is an important part of managing Diabetes, and requires some attention to detail.

According to an article published by The Mayo Clinic, Type 1 Diabetics should be testing their blood glucose levels somewhere between 4 to 10 times a day. This is conditional on recommendations from their health practitioner, as well.

Personally, I used to test over 12 times a day. At almost four decades of dealing with Type 1, I consider it a matter of import to test this often. Most Diabetics need to test their blood glucose at these moments: before meals, before rigorous exercise, when waking in the morning and before bed. This is hardly an exhaustive list. And you may need to test more frequently if you fall ill, start new medications or have some radical change in your daily routine.

The Abbott FreeStyle Libre is the testing sensor I currently use

You’ll notice I wrote that I “used” to test over 12 times a day… One can only poke one’s finger so often in the course of 24 hours! Last February, my endocrinologist prescribed the Freestyle Libre as a means to trying out continuous glucose monitoring in a simpler way. I now test well over two dozens times within the waking day. This allows me a better control of my blood glucose levels and provides the ability to spend more time “in range” (between 4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L).

For those who don’t know, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a device used in conjunction with an insulin pump. It involves placing a small sensor into the interstitial tissue, which monitors and relays latent blood glucose readings to the insulin pump on a continuous basis. Hence, then name. It’s a handy device to help Diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in range.

A depiction of CGM on the left side with the pump’s infusion set on the right

Despite the use of CGM, it’s still important to test via fingertip blood when first waking up, or anytime your sensor may be in question or need calibration. For example, I recently scanned my sensor and got a reading of 3.5 mmol/L. This would normally require treating with some fast-acting glucose. I decided to err on the side of caution and tested with my glucometer. The result was that I was actually sitting at 4.2 mmol/L. Quite a difference and plays an important role in how I would treat.

The method of testing and its frequency will ultimately be something for discussion between you and your medical practitioner. After all, every case is different, and one’s testing needs differ from person to person. Your doctor may occasionally require you to wake and test during the middle of night, as well. This is so that proper balance throughout the entire day can be achieved.

I often have non-Diabetics comment that they don’t know how I deal with all the testing and the poking I do. Up until about six years ago, I took approximately 4 to 6 insulin injections a day (depending on how much I ate) and poke a finger over 12 times a day. Now, with the advent of these devices, I inject a needle once every three days to load the insulin pump, and poke a finger once or twice a day at most. It’s certainly a welcome change. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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