I’m sure you’ve heard people say that it’s the little things that count referring to many different things like loving gestures like a hug or a kiss in a relationship, or asking how a friend’s day went and really listening to their response. These are the little things that at the end of the day make all of your overall experiences and interactions richer, more fulfilling and satisfying. The same ideal can absolutely be applied to diabetes no matter which type you are.
To many diabetics, the fact that we have to take the time to check our blood sugar so often is often perceived as enough of a pain in the ass as it is that often we don’t take the extra 20 seconds to do the little things like wash our hands thoroughly before checking, and coding our meters each time we open a new bottle of strips (if required.) Although these things might seem miniscule to you when you think about them, these little things that in the long run take mere seconds to do can truly change the outcome of your experience every single time. Over my 23+ year stint as a T1D, my mom randomly asks me to check her blood sugar just to see what it is, which I like doing for her because it gives me the peace of mind that she is always in a healthy range safe from pre-diabetes. One time when she asked me we experienced a quick but really intense scare and high level of panic. She was in the kitchen at my house preparing food when she asked me to check her blood sugar. She came over and sat next to me on the couch and I went through the usual steps of changing out the lancet and swabbing her finger with an alcohol swab before sticking her finger. Five seconds later the readout on the screen said 289 mg/dl.
We both sat in silence for a second, then I looked at her and immediately starting crying because I love her so intensely that the thought of her having to live with diabetes immediately tore my heart in half. Then something lit up in my brain. She had just been cutting up a pineapple, and even though I used the alcohol swab I asked her if she had washed her hands before coming over and thankfully she said no. I told her to go thoroughly wash her hands with soap and water and to come back for a re-test. I again used a new alcohol swab on her finger and re-tested. Much to our extreme delight and relief, the screen said 96 mg/dl. Even though this was now more than 5 years ago that this happened, it was such an intense experience for me that I don’t think I will ever forget those exact numbers that my glucometer displayed. We tested one more time for posterity and it read out at 94 mg/dl. Overwhelming gratitude was the only emotion I experienced at that moment.
I share this experience with you in hopes that this might spur you to take the simple action of washing your hands before you test every single time. For us diabetics, getting a false reading because of lack of action on our part is unfortunately inexcusable if you know the implications of not doing so. If your readout is 100 mg/dl higher or lower than your blood sugar really is because you didn’t wash your hands and you then take corrective action based on the false readout, you could easily put yourself in some very dangerous and severe situations in the very near future. If your blood sugar is 145 mg/dl but your screen says 245 mg/dl and you take fast acting insulin to correct, your blood sugar will begin dropping quick and you won’t be expecting the low if you didn’t know the readout was false. Conversely if it was 145 mg/dl and the readout said 45 mg/dl and you drank a juice box, your blood sugar will be on the rise fast. Either scenario sucks if you have diabetes and you know it. So please choose not to suffer needlessly, learn from my mistakes and wash your hands every time before you check your blood sugar. I know it can be annoying, but in my humble, experienced diabetic opinion I will ALWAYS take the 20 seconds to wash my hands to know the truth rather than be lazy and not know what is really going on inside my body.
Has this or something like this ever happened to you? Let me know in the comments below, or share another helpful diabetic tip that could make someone else’s life a little easier.