There’s no lie at hand; you may not be pleased with the number on the screen — but it certainly speaks the truth.
If diabetes data had a voice here’s what it might be saying: make a doctor appointment, check your blood sugar more often, get some exercise, adjust your medications, make better food choices or simply pay attention.
Turning a blind eye on data isn’t equivalent to not checking in the first place, but what a rich mine of data one could be breaking into to improve diabetes health.
People living with type 1 diabetes collect data on a daily basis — but a shocking 70 percent never look at the data, according to Healio Endocrinology.
The Atlantic refers to a diabetic’s data collection as “a paradox” and questions whether it’s a “boon or a burden”. The Atlantic incorrectly quotes the timeframe of “the late 1970’s” as the period in which patients were given the means to measure sugar in their blood with glucometers; I was personally diagnosed in 1984, and glucometers weren’t an in-home option quite yet.
Forerunners of sorts (pre-Fit Bit by nearly three decades), patients began to slowly take over the role of ‘in-home expert’, adjusting medications and diet in relationship to numerical data. With this newly evolved model of medicine, “The patient, rather than the doctor, would be the primary day-to-day manager of their disease.”
What’s the patient’s response to self-management? A 2012 study elaborates:
• Self-monitoring is seen as “the enemy”.
• Self-management serves to decrease self-esteem and may also increase anxiety and depression.
People with diabetes are very familiar with the feeling of failure — diabetes has an uncanny knack with it. Take this scenario for instance: Appointment coming up — like tomorrow — and you have no data for it, a sure fire way to start your appointment off in a negative light.
Feeling ashamed is only the tip of the iceberg; health care providers are hard struck to help patients make adjustments to their diabetes regime without their data.
It sounds easy enough, but why isn’t it happening?
Too many cords to count, incompatibility of programs with computers (many companies haven’t kept up with Windows 8.1), a lack of data to download, or not wanting to face the music — there’s many reasons why it may not be happening.
Looking at Data Between Appointments
People with diabetes are asked to perform tedious tasks day in and day out; with data collected through self-tracking and changes made in health habits through the information at hand, it sounds rather easy — unless you’re the one living with it.
It’s a much larger commitment than merely carb counting and shooting insulin, especially wearing a diagnostic badge of a disease (type 2 diabetes) that harbors the weight of a “self-inflicted” sword of sorts.
According to Helio, only 12 percent of patients with type 1 diabetes ever review their data — if they download it.
We’re all creatures of habit, but the opportunity to pave new paths with positive behaviors is always an option — habits aren’t all negative. Once a habit is set in motion, the tasks are less daunting and change can happen.
Your Hemoglobin A1c will Thank You
Because ‘all-things’ diabetes are measurable, your efforts won’t be overlooked. If your care provider isn’t the best at congratulating you — no worries — you can pat yourself on the back too.
Beneficial, yet exhausting, diabetes takes dedication and hard work — a strong commitment to ourselves. We’re the forerunners of data-tracking; regardless of the new-fangled health trackers, we’ve been at this for decades improving our health with tools as simple and mundane as a paper and pen.
You can do it.