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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

Tips to avoid forgetting BG and shots   (March 25, 2012))

I received the following e-mail:

I have diabetes. I have had it for almost 8 years now. I'm 11 years old. I want the pump but I haven't been taking care of myself like I should. It is my goal to get the pump THIS summer! I would like a few tips on how to take better care of myself. I sometimes forget to test my blood sugar or take shots. Can you give me some tips please?

My reply:

Remembering to check the blood sugar level, or to take the shot, is a problem for everybody. That's one of the great advantages to using an insulin pump: it will beep and annoy you if you forget to take a mealtime bolus of insulin.

There are a few tips I'll pass along for you and your family to consider to help keep you on track. Maybe one or two will help get you better organized!

First, if you don't already have an alarm watch or an app for a smart phone that has multiple alarms, get one. Look at the choices at e-pill and at Amazon.com: I searched Amazon for "multiple alarm watch" and found they have 77 to choose from! (Yeah, many of them are positively UGLY!)

Next, tell some of your close friends about your problem, and ask them to text you (or phone you) at mealtimes to remind you. Or instead of them contacting you, you can contact them when you check the BG or give the shot, and work a deal that they will nag you only if you forget to touch base with them.

Since you're reading this on a computer, consider putting your reminder in your computer's scheduling program. Some programs allow you to set a regular daily "appointment" at a particular time. Some even have an alarm function that you can set to remind you. 

Put a message on your computer's screen saver.

If you are eating meals at the same place every day, leave a reminder note where you can't miss seeing it.

To check later if you gave a shot or checked your sugar, you could record your insulin injections as well as your BG results in a diary. (It's really annoying when it's an hour or two after a meal, and you can't recall if you did or didn't give a shot - I know; it's happened to me pretty often!)

There have been some very specialized gadgets that might help: one of them is Timesulin which might help if you are currently using an insulin pen.

Simplify the steps you use when checking BG or giving shots. For example, if you are changing lancets for every fingerpoke, or changing needles on your insulin pen for every shot, or swabbing the skin with alcohol, you should ask your diabetes nurse about getting an okay to simplify what you're doing. And when you give your insulin shots, you can inject right through clothing rather than having to find bare skin (see Injecting through clothing).

Finally, be sure to discuss your desire to switch to a pump with your diabetes doctor or diabetes nurse educator if you haven't already done so! Show them that you're serious about improving your diabetes control.

Best wishes!

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