Getting By With a Little Helper
Managing diabetes isn't a one-woman show.
By Deanna Glick
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
February 2012 — My little girl has apparently inherited her mother's adoration for restaurants. There's just something about going out to eat. Sometimes it's about getting out of the kitchen–the cooking and cleaning up, or even escaping the entire house. Sometimes it's to indulge in something different, such as a particular ethnic food I haven't taken the time to learn how to prepare myself. But most of the time, for me, and I suspect my daughter as well, it's really just about getting out and being surrounded by others while enjoying a meal over lively conversations about the day. Yet, going out to eat has always been a pitfall for me.
I'm pretty good at counting carbs and calculating insulin dosage even when restaurants don't provide nutrition information. But some of my biggest roadblocks to successful diabetes management tend to crop up in public, rendering all that knowledge useless when I'm about to bite into a burrito at the place where my kid would eat every meal if she could.
Roadblock #1: I tend to rush in crowded places when I know people are waiting behind me. It's similar to the anxiety felt when a driver tailgates me on the freeway. I just want to move out of the way as soon as possible – out of a line, away from the salsa bar or soda fountain, out of the restroom or the doorway. You get the idea. Rushing does not make for a brain capable of good diabetes management.
Roadblock #2: Vanity creeps in. It's stupid, I know. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed to have diabetes, but I just really hate the attention it draws when I pull out my meter or pump. Sometimes I just don't feel like being looked at or questioned by my daughter or anyone else for that matter.
Roadblock #3: Near constant interruption. At five years old, my daughter is finally at an age where she can make herself a bowl of cereal or get a drink on her own. She often assists with making a sandwich for her lunch. She knows her way around the kitchen enough to get what she needs most of the time. She even has her own step stool. But all that independence goes by the wayside when we're out. At various points during the meal I will most certainly be asked for more napkins, more salsa, more lemonade, a fork to eat the rest of her burrito that's fallen apart, or to go to the bathroom. It can be pretty exhausting, and drains the energy that I might have put into the steps leading up to and including a pre-meal bolus.
I came up with an idea that might allow me to break through these barriers to reach the best control possible, and it involves knocking down another roadblock of sorts. I'm going to ask for help. Yes, I'm going to ask my daughter to remind me to test and bolus before I eat. To some, this might sound ridiculous, unfair, or simply not right. But my daughter adores the idea of helping her mom, not to mention that she has a fabulous memory (she can check off every Halloween costume she's ever worn). I've done this for many other tasks, too: cleaning the house, working in the garden, finding a lost toy. Whenever I want to prevent my daughter from impeding a process, I simply give her a task that assists in accomplishing it. And it works. Why not do the same when it comes to my health?
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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