How Stella? How?

Monday, September 04, 2006 | 15 comment(s)

My sugars have been awful lately, I haven't been keeping up with my logging, and I am not pleased.

I'm a man of routines and habits. When I'm in a groove, things can chug along quite nicely - I eat the same meals, I test like crazy, I keep detailed notes in my logbook. When I'm in this groove, I've been able to keep my average readings in the 140s range (and occasionally into the 130s and once even into the 120s range).

Then I fall out of that groove. Sometimes I have no idea what happened or why. Just BAM! and the record has skipped and I'm repeating old (bad) habits. That's kinda where I am right now. (that's kinda where I am right now, that's kinda where I am right now, that's kinda where I am right now, that's kinda where I am right now (to beat a metaphor to death)).

I keep a logbook of all my blood sugar readings in an excel file that I keep on my office computer. I generally keep my glucometer out on my desk and find that it's no problem for me to test my blood and directly enter it into the logbook that I have open (generally at all times). I also log what I've eaten, how many carbs (often wild-ass guesses), how much insulin I take for each meal, and any exercise I do. I have the readings automatically plotted out in daily line graphs and some weekly statistics calculated as well. During the day when I'm sitting at my desk, this all works great.

When I've got my groove on, I come in the office and download
Nitty-gritty details
I use Lifescan meters: The OneTouch Ultra AND the OneTouch UltraSmart. I also use Lifescan's database software that read the data from both meters. I like this.

Previously I used the OneTouch Profile II (which is a total dinosaur that requires gobs of blood, takes 45 seconds to produces a reading(!), and spits out its readings in whole blood rather than plasma equivalents) and the Ascencia Dex 2 meter.

I like using 2 meters because
  1. I always have a back-up handy, and
  2. I like one that I can keep at my desk or in my backpack, or on my night stand and another one that I can basically keep in my pocket at all times.
I used to really like the Dex 2 meter, 'cause it didn't require carrying test strips in the other pocket (well, that's not true, I generally always had an extra set of 10 strips with me) and I could pull the meter out of my pocket and slide out a strip and be ready to test in no time.

I found, however, that I was subconsciously (okay, perhaps consciously, too) testing when I was more likely to be having higher blood sugars: e.g., while exercising or while out socializing. And since I never downloaded the data from this little pocket meter, I never really got the "full" picture, but instead, I got a downwardly biased picture of my average readings from the OneTouch meter (which I downloaded into the same software database that I still use).

I like this new duo of meters 'cause it gives me a better picture of my control, and it helps to keep me honest with myself (which I need more often than I'd like to admit).

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my readings from the previous day and overnight and morning into the OneTouch database. I then manually update my logbook with whatever readings I've missed (i.e., readings 5pm - 9am). I can usually recall what I ate for dinner, and can scroll through my pump for bolus information to plug into my logbook. It's a little time consuming (maybe 10 mins. each morning), but I've found that the information in the logbook is laid out *just* like I like it, and I'm peculiar that way.

The down-side to this system is that I have to create a new file each week. Part of this was by design, however. I found that judging my management in 1-week intervals works best for me. I can clearly look at a graph of my weekly averages and tell whether it was a "good week", a "bad week" or a "shitty week." Every Monday morning I would do the same as any other weekday, but I'd also hand enter the blood sugar readings from over the weekend.
The Sad Truth
I have never really kept decent records of what I eat, or what my boluses are like, or what my activity levels are like over the weekends, because they are often so random. I'm not eating my "standard breakfast" or my "standard lunch" and I'm certainly not eating them at relatively fixed times like when I'm at the office (and I find I snack A LOT more when I'm at home). So, I just log the blood sugar readings and nothing else from my weekends and this gives me a sense that I'm "taking a (much needed?) break" from all the other record keeping that I do all week long.

It breaks my heart every time I say this, but "weekends suck." My control slips severely over the weekend.

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Then I save my completed file for the previous week, create a new copy of it for the new week, manually clear out all the previous week's worth of data, and then start filling in my Monday morning readings. I find that the Monday morning logbook routine takes a bit more time than any of the Tuesday-Friday routines (perhaps 15 mins.).

So my troubles started several weeks ago when I took a long weekend trip and then took the following Monday off from work. Tuesday morning, I found the notion of having to hand enter data from Thursday evening - Sunday evening in the previous week and then create a new file and then hand enter the data for all day Monday into Tuesday morning to be too daunting a task and so I happily gave myself "the week off" from logging.

When I downloaded all my readings into the OneTouch database, I was pleased to find that my control hadn't suffered a bit for the lack of logging. Then started a new week, I got back on the logging bandwagon, I had a great week of readings, and I was happy as a clam.
Other Fun "Happy as a..." Similes
  • Happy as a Sandboy
  • Happy as a Tapir
  • Happy as a Hippo
  • Happy as Larry (honest, I'm not making that up)
  • Happy as a Lark
  • Happy as a Peacock
  • Happy as a Pig in Shit, and then (of course) there's plain ol':
  • Happy Camper

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But then two weekends ago it was my birthday and I had my follow-up eye doctor's appointment on Monday morning and I took the rest of the day off from work while my eyes returned to normal. Then again Tuesday last week I was overwhelmed with the amount of data I'd have to hand-enter and basically took another "logging vacation."

Only this past week I know my blood sugars have just sucked. I haven't downloaded my data yet to see how crappy my averages were over the past week but, I'm guessing they went up by 50-80 mg/dl, easily. The only thing that will keep the averages out of the 200s range will be the string of lows in the 50s range that I had three nights in a row last week (which really isn't a very satisfying way to achieve low average blood sugar stats).

I certainly can't blame all of my poor control on my lack of logging since my previous "logging break" proved to me that I could maintain decent control without writing every tidbit down. I'm putting my money on the fact that I drove to work everyday last week (except Monday, when I wasn't in the office) instead of riding my bike to work. The weatherman
I Still Haven't Learned
When I was a little kid, my Nana used to say to me: "Little boys who lie grow up to be weathermen."

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threw a couple head-fakes at me when I was barely awake (promising rain, but producing just clouds and great 70 degree weather) during the first half of the week, but then followed through with some decent downpours in the second half of the workweek.

So today is the third Monday off in the past month, and although I could get used to a 4-day workweek, I really don't like the unintended secondary effects these long weekends are having on my control. My plan is to bike into work early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, and take the time to start the week off on the right foot and get my groove back on with my logging, my eating, and my exercising.

I've just re-read this very inspirational story about the Cleveland brothers, and while factors such as diet, exercise, and genetics certainly played a significant role in their longevity with diabetes, so too did keeping meticulous records.

I'm just hoping I can get my groove back. How'd you do it Stella? How?

15 Comment(s):

Blogger julia said...

Stella shagged a much younger hot guy.

I know I seem to lose control when I don't log O's blood sugars, but yours sounds more like it's exercise-related. If you're going to start riding your bike again, that should help. Combine that with more vigilant logging and you should see better results.

I don't really know how to get your groove back. I just give myself a stern talking-to and a mental shaking and then put my head down and plow back into logging again.

Anonymous In Search Of Balance said...

It is awful to loose control, as then it seems so hard to regain the ground. I am terrible about records, and must loose control at least once or twice a month... and then when I get it back, there's still work to be done.

I don't have any good advice for you, but I wish you all the luck in the world. Best wishes.

Anonymous Chrissie in Belgium said...

I keep a post it pad in the monitor case and write down what cannot be immediately put into my computer excel sheet. This is easier than "remebering stuff" and even easier than getting the bg values from the monitor. Also not everything is in the monitor like exercise, glucose for hypos, insulin amounts, etc. Also with the paper all is chronoligical and it can rather quickly be put into the computer. Maybe this will help - it works for me!

Blogger Johnboy said...

Kevin, your spreadsheet was very helpful to me.

Personally, I think the activity of logging itself makes a difference in my overall control. When it's all in front of me very clearly, I make different (better) decisions overall.

Could I have a decent week without logging? Sure. But over time, I seem to have more decent weeks when closely tracking than not.

In short, it improves the odds.

Blogger Kevin said...

Julia:
A younger hot guy, huh? Well, let's just see how this week goes, and we'll call that plan B.

ISOB (wow, that's a bad acronym):
You have some really beautiful paintings on your page! You're quite a talented artist. Thanks for the best wishes.

Chrissie:
I like the old fashioned pen and paper approach. I've recently started using it to keep lists going. This is huge for me, as I never used to be a list guy. I preferred when the list of my responsibilities at any point in time were small enough that I could remember them without having to write them down. Seems those days are probably over.

Johnboy:
I am very glad that you've found my excel file to be useful. And I too agree that logging has some clear benefits to helping maintain control. No guarentees, of course, but increasing odds is about as good as we can ask for.

Anyone else:
I've shared my excel logbook with several other folks in the OC, and I'd be happy to send you a copy if you think you'd like to give it a try. Just drop me a line.

Blogger LaLa said...

Kevin

I can definitely relate; my troubles seem to start when I slack on my logging. I keep thinking it's because my Excel logbook is so blah, but I'm pretty certain it's just me being lazy! I notice my control slips when I'm stressed or frustrated because I lose any ambition to work on my control. My dedication seems to wane during periods like that.

May I have a copy of your Excel file? I'm trying to find something that works for me that I'll stick with and actually use to analyze my blood sugars. If so, my email is lalamiller@hotmail.com

Take care :)

Laura

P.S. - Perhaps Stella's mid-life crisis prompted the return of her groove??? In about a month I'll qualify for a quarter life crisis...maybe I'll get my "groove" back by then. I'd even settle for "mojo" - that sounds good too...

Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Kevin,

I SO feel your pain on this one.

First off, I think that what Johnboy said is how I feel - it's the act of logging itself. The information is right in front of you, and for some reason, having to record decisions and consequences seems to help me make better decisions.

Second off, I was laughing my ass off on your response to Julia's comment!!!

Third off, we've talked about this before - but there is no immediate and harsh "punishment" to not logging. It just kind of sneaks up on you one day when you realize your numbers are approaching the sucky territory. It would be so much easier if there were some immediate and painful "punishment" for our lack of positive action.

While the excel logbook does work well for me, when I use it, I still long for a better "all encompassing" system. I've tried stuff on my pocket pc, which I have with me almost all the time, but I've yet to find something I'm happy with. And nothing compares to the usefulness of the spreadsheet (which totally rocks - you are a frickin' wizard with that thing man!).

Another thing I like about the weekly system, is that in times like this you can always start fresh on the following Monday!

I've taken your spreadsheet and made a "read-only" template. I open it on Monday, change the date on that first tab, rename the tabs, then click the "save" icon. Because the file is marked "read-only" I get prompted to "save as...". Might shave 30 seconds or so from the Monday routine?

It is terribly hard to remember everything from over the weekend too. I've tried putting the spreadsheet onto a USB flash drive - thinking I would update it over the weekend at home. It hasn't happened yet.

Our intentions are good - we just need a little help on the follow through.

Blogger Kevin said...

LaLa:
Surely, I'll send you a copy today.

Scott:
I like the "read-only" template idea. I'm gonna try that out. Thanks!

Our intentions are good, indeed.

Blogger mel said...

Kevin,

I also enjoy using the spreadsheet, so thanks! (I however, am taking a mini-break--not sure how much of this weekend is gonna make it into any documents).
I've gone ahead and renamed the tabs Mon, Tues, etc instead of repeating the date on the tabs. This saves me the time of having to rename each one, each week.
I think my hangups come with the logging of over the weekend results-ugh.

Thanks again! And goodluck!

Blogger Kevin said...

Mel!

That's brilliant! I don't know why I never thought of that. I've already renamed my worksheets. That with Scott's recommendations, will greatly help with Monday mornings. And stumbling on Monday morning with the logging really sets me up for a poor week.

Thanks!

Anonymous Caro said...

More kudos to you - I took printouts from your spreadsheet to my diabetes clinic last week, and my nurse specialist was very impressed with it! I also made a read-only version, as clearing data out is pretty mind numbing!

Something I've learnt the hard way is that when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of data I'd have to input to get back up-to-date after missing a few days, it is better just to start again from the day I'm on and forget those I've already missed.

In times passed I've often ended up with huge gaps in my records because filling in the missing data becomes such an impossible task and it has spiralled into neglecting record keeping for weeks on end. I hate having odd days missed out of my records, because I'm that kind of person. But I like it a whole lot better than huge gaps and worsening control.

But regardless... we all need a break sometimes, if only to remind us why we do what we do!

Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Boy Kevin, between Mel & Caro's ideas/thoughts, our Mondays are looking a lot better!!

:-)

Blogger LaLa said...

Thanks for the file, Kevin, and thank you to everyone for the suggestions! In a weird (sad?) way, it makes logging my info more fun when I have a cool Excel spreadsheet to use. :) Whatever it takes, though ....

Laura

Blogger MileMasterSarah said...

I had a cortisone shot back in July. I do NOT recommend this! It made my sugars go wacky for weeks. They say it only makes them go wacky for a few days, but I was high a week, and then the cortisone shot caused an adrenal reaction causing adrenal insufficiency that caused my blood sugars to be LOW for several weeks after that, without warning most times. So ya, getting back on the horse after all that was ridiculously hard. Anyhow, i can totally relate!

Blogger Minnesota Nice said...

I haven't stopped logging - it's just that I haven't stopped eating either. Two weeks ago I had my best AlC ever, and decided to take a week off to "celebrate" (good concept, bad execution) and I'm way into the 300's for at least a portion of each day. No, the long week-end didn't help, nor did the 4 co-workers who all brought birthday donuts the last few days.
So I'm spinning faster and faster outta control and just hope that I'll get a grip - sooooooooon!!!

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