Most people who have diabetes agree that checking blood glucose is fairly easy to do and understand it provides useful information. So why do so many people struggle with taking their blood glucose? Is it a lack of will power? Is it that they just don't care?
Turns out most people are pretty reasonable. They stop checking blood glucose when they believe the whole process involves a lot of hassles and see few benefits. And unfortunately, there are quite a few hassles associated with checking your blood glucose – some big, some little, and maybe some silly.
William Polonsky, PhD, CDE, in his book Diabetes Burnout, shares the top 10 reasons people hate checking blood glucose. Number one on his list is: Your meter makes you feel bad about yourself. For some a meter can become how they judge themselves. Depending on the results of testing, it’s common to feel like you're failing if your meter is reading high, or feel like you're a good person if your meter is low.
When you see a high reading, what is your response? It’s common for people to have an inner dialogue almost as though the meter is speaking to them. At times like this, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the reading is only a number and doesn’t reflect who you are as a person.
What helps? Turns out, those who are successful with monitoring come to view their readings as simple pieces of information and an opportunity to take action, not as a way to judge themselves. As Dr. Polonsky suggests, "Think of the gas gauge on your car. When it nears empty, do you avoid looking at it? Do you yell at yourself for being so stupid as to allow it to get low? Do you feel like a failure because you allowed this to happen? Do you resent your car because you now have to stop for gas? Probably not. You don't think of the amount of gas in your tank as good or bad; instead the gauge is just providing information that allows you to make the best decisions."
Some helpful tips:
- Stop referring to the process as "testing your glucose." Think of it as monitoring.
- Avoid referring to your readings as good or bad. Instead, think high or low.
- Remind yourself how silly it is to let your blood glucose reading determine your self-esteem.
- Be reasonable about blood glucose expectations. Work with your doctor to determine what is reasonable.
In addition to these tips, join a support group or network, talk with others, be supportive of yourself and take time to care for your emotional, social and physical needs.