Paper is for origami, not diabetes logbooks
I think I speak for many people with diabetes (PWDs) when I say that manually keeping track of diabetes data is a lot of work!
Of course, there are a lot of things we do that take work—like brushing our teeth—yet we still do them. Why? Because there are benefits. In the case of tooth brushing, that means bright, white teeth, fewer cavities and a beautiful smile. Keeping a logbook is similar in that there's a payoff and it gets easier once you make it a habit.
You can't learn from data that isn't there
Years ago, I went to my diabetes doctor empty handed. Unfortunately, I also left empty handed. My doctor couldn't make any adjustments to my diabetes management or help me troubleshoot problems because I didn't have any records to show.
Was I tending to go high after breakfast? I didn't know. Was I having lows before bedtime? I didn't know. Was I waking up too high or low? I didn't know.
The phrase "I don't know" was the theme of the whole appointment. It was frustrating, but also made total sense. What was I expecting when I didn't have any records to review?
The search for the right diabetes logging tool
I'm often frustrated by paper logbooks for a few reasons:
There's not enough room for what I want to write
I can't read my own handwriting
It doesn't hold up well in my pocket
I forget to bring it with me
Getting the right tool is critical, though. To get around the space issues, I tried using a plain lined notepad. I even bought a fancy notebook. But without a clear structure or format, I couldn't spot patterns or trends, and I soon gave up altogether.
The discovery of automatic logging
With mySugr, that's all changed. Today, most of my diabetes devices are connected or synchronized to my smartphone and automatically log everything. (link to https://www.accu-chek.ca/en/data-management/mysugr-app)
With one quick glance, I get a powerful overview of my day and week. Patterns are super easy to spot, which makes my doctor happy, and the information is immediately useful to me, which makes me happy.
I can also search for tags, keywords or locations. Fredrik Debong, one of the founders of mySugr, recently shared a great example of this. He told a story about ordering a meal where he wasn't sure about the carb estimate. He searched for a similar meal in mySugr and found one from nearly two years prior. He saw what he estimated, how much insulin he took and what his blood sugars did afterward. From that record, he saw that he had underestimated the carbs last time, which left him running high after the meal. Being able to find this information quickly helped him adjust his insulin dose for this meal.
This helped Fredrik avoid an afternoon of high blood sugar. Would I have been able to find that entry in a paper logbook (or another app) from years ago?
With entries logged into mySugr and PDF reports, I have great information for my doctor. My appointments become a useful interaction and I receive great feedback.
Start enjoying the benefits
The benefits of good oral health have turned brushing a habit for most of us (I hope). For me, the benefits of logging are even more compelling. And thanks to connected devices, it gets easier all the time.
It's time to get connected and get started. Let's leave the paper for making origami.
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