Prior to the middle of the 1980s, diabetics' lives were extremely limited compared to today. They had to eat the same food daily, do the same exercises, and take the same amounts of insulin. They saw their doctors only when they felt sick. All this changed with the advent of affordable and widespread blood glucose meters. People with diabetes were able to lead more varied lives and began to see their doctors more regularly.
Here's what you need to know about the communication plan you should have with your doctor or nurse, and what might happen during each appointment.
It is crucial that you feel comfortable with your doctor or nurse. The best healthcare professionals take the time to chat with you about you and your diabetes. This insight helps both of you manage and monitor your illness.
In general, your doctor or nurse will ask you to engage in either a paper or digital logbook communication plan. A paper logbook can be cumbersome to maintain, sometimes leading to omitted, forgotten and inconsistent information. A digital logbook is often easier to keep track of than paper, but it's still all too easy to record only glucose readings and to forget about logging meals and moods. However, many doctors are now taking advantage of apps that remind patients to log all of their information. Some apps enable doctors' offices to keep an eye on patients' stats in real time.
What your appointments should be like
Every visit: Your doctor should check your communication plan, review it, and ask about your blood sugar monitoring. Your doctor should ask how often you've had low and high blood sugar, and check your weight and blood pressure. They should also check for sores on your legs and feet, and ask about your eating and exercise habits.
Every three months: Your doctor takes a blood sample for an A1c reading to get an idea of how controlled your blood sugar has been over the last few months. A good result is under six percent. Any number above seven percent indicates a reduced control of blood sugar.
About once a year: Your doctor does a general physical exam and a foot exam. They also take a look at your eyes for any blood vessel damage. Your urine and cholesterol are checked, and you get a flu vaccine.
Questions you might consider asking your doctor
You should always bring up symptoms such as numbness or sores on your body. Questions that you should ask your doctor about other matters include:
- Are there any new apps I can use to track my progress? (Or, I found X new app. Have you heard about it?)
- Are there new medications I can/should take?
- How does high cholesterol affect me? (If you have not asked yet or need a refresher)
- How could high blood pressure affect me? (If you have not asked yet or need a refresher)
- I've heard about [new food or sweetener]. Is it okay for me?
With these tips in mind, you should be able to make the most out of your regular checkups, and stay in the best health possible.
About the author:
Kelly Short has been a freelance writer and editor since 2009. Before that, she worked as a newspaper copy editor and page designer. In her free time, she hikes and plays tennis.