When you’re living with the everyday ups and downs of blood glucose and medication levels, it can be easy to focus on the immediate consequences of your management efforts – and eventually lose sight of the big blood sugar picture.
That’s one of the reasons the American Diabetes Association (and pretty much every other diabetes authority out there) recommends keeping a record of your blood glucose test results, whether it’s stored in your meter’s memory or scribbled on a series of napkins. According to the ADA, “When you bring this record to your health care provider, you have a good picture of your body’s response to your diabetes care plan.”
We know we should keep detailed records of our blood sugars (and all the factors that affect them), so then the question becomes: How?
Printable PDFs, tiny paper log books, and other means of physical recordkeeping are easy to find, each with varying amounts of columns and boxes for things like insulin doses, carbohydrates consumed, time of the day and astrological positions. Keeping pencil-and-paper records can be a grounding and accessible experience – it can be nice to take a break from the diabetes technology every now and then – but the tools can be hard to carry and complete, and the information can’t be easily transferred to graphs or charts. OneTouch, the ADA, and Lilly Diabetes all offer printable logs, but it can be freeing to record as much – or as little – information as you want in a standard blank journal or notebook.
If you prefer your recordkeeping with a little more technology, there’s always the option of using an Excel spreadsheet to track your blood sugars. Templates are bountiful online, or you can recruit your favorite number nerd to help you create one of your own.
Most glucose meters, insulin pumps and Continuous Glucose Meters offer the capability of uploading to their specific software programs. It’s a convenient and pencil-free option, but navigating the technological spiderweb that surrounds some programs can be frustrating. Different companies require different operating systems, plug-ins and accessories to successfully upload your information. Recently, the standalone system Diasend broadened its compatibility to include more than 100 devices, solving connectivity problems for some users.
Apps for iPhone and Android users are almost too plentiful to count. Pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline offer free apps like Diabetes HealthMate, which can track blood sugar levels and daily routines in excrutiating detail. Apps like Glooko unite uploaded information with lifestyle and activity information, to give patients and caregivers a broad perspective on everyday management. Then there’s MySugr, which aims to make recordkeeping rewarding and fun – and comprehensive.
No matter which route you choose, even the smallest amount of recordkeeping is better than none at all. You may be surprised by what you find, whether they’re in a composition book or on your iPhone screen.