A few years back we had a really big scare; our doctor called us in the evening about 7:00 p.m. This was the first time that I had ever had a doctor call me at home. He started out by asking me where my husband was and if he was okay. I told him that he was in bed, not feeling very well and he hadn’t had much of an appetite, but he was normal other than that. The doctor then said, “He is anything but normal! I just got his test results back and his blood sugar is 770! Get him to the emergency room IMMEDIATELY!”
I was scared because my doctor was scared, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what 770 meant, but I hustled and rushed my husband to the emergency room. By the time the emergency room personnel were able to get another reading (normal monitors don’t go that high), it had gone up to 780! I still didn’t know what that meant. Everybody was running around and didn’t have time to explain. One of the doctors asked me, “Why isn’t he in a coma?” Are you kidding? He was the doctor, not me. They then asked me how long he had been diabetic. Never? We didn’t know that he was diabetic. His other illnesses had masked the symptoms.
Our regular doctor had been testing him regularly for glucose readings because of other ailments, but this was the first time that the reading was off – and boy was it off!
I soon found out that normal glucose readings were supposed to be between 80-120. Now I knew why our doctor was so frantic when he called and why the emergency room doctors were so anxious. When I started to understand diabetes type II and what the numbers meant, it was a very post-traumatic time for me.
My husband ended up staying in the hospital for a week and when they released him, his blood sugar had only gone down to 385. They said that they had to bring it down slowly or his glucose could plummet and that was even more dangerous. I was scared to death to bring him home and I wanted to test him every half hour (yes, I was a bit anxious); this was all so new to us.
The diabetic counselors gave us these little books to keep track of his numbers, but I don’t know if I’m stupid or what, but those little books just didn’t make any sense to me at all – and so Excel spreadsheet to the rescue!
I felt so unprepared and like a fish out of water – I was floundering with all of the new information that I had to keep track of and so I turned to Excel. I know that, if given the chance, I could solve all of the world’s problems if I only had access to a spreadsheet.
I knew I could fix this diabetes problem, or at least make it manageable.
First we had to figure out what he could eat, how much of it he could eat (too many carbs are bad), how to figure out how much insulin he needed each time he ate or tested himself, and on, and on, and on – and keep track of it all too. I also had to have a manageable format that I could share with his doctors because they wanted us to report on a daily basis for the first few weeks and then on a weekly basis until he got his blood sugar under control.
He would fill out the forms and I would transfer the numbers to the spreadsheet and e-mail them to the doctors until it wasn’t necessary anymore. One thing that I found that I really liked is that with the spreadsheet we could see in just a glance how he was doing. The numbers that were too high or too low, showed up in red and the numbers that were in the normal parameters, turned blue (or black depending on the Excel version you have). It made it really easy to see trends which the doctors really liked.
The forms that I created helped us a lot when we first started out. After awhile (a long while) we got so that we could figure out our menus and such in our heads and use a calculator to quickly figure out how much insulin he needed. We don’t use it as much now because his glucose readings are, for the most part, normal now, but when our world was falling apart it really helped us a lot. If you are dealing with diabetes, or know someone is, I hope these forms and spreadsheets can help you as much as they did us.
But if possible, don’t make your doctor call you late at night to rush to the hospital; try to stay healthy and diabetes free. If you want to know more about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org/
Here are some documents that will help you manage diabetes: