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Happy holiday, with my new friend

November 23, 2009 - Paul Giannamore

Say hello to my new friend for the holiday season: Blood glucose level monitoring.

I'm not complaining. Indeed, if not for the little high-tech device I carry around in my briefcase, containing all I need to poke a hole in my skin, bleed onto a test strip and read my blood sugar level, I might still be eating like an overprivileged pig and feeling lousy.

Diabetes is not something one wants to get. Ever. I know the consequences, if I don't lose weight and get rid of this monkey, could be kidney failure, blindness, heart trouble, loss of limbs. In other words, pain and suffering. And I'm a wimp.

But the machinery they make nowadays to monitor blood sugar levels is a high-tech junky's dream.

When my mom was diagnosed in the mid-1960s, there were no home monitoring systems, other than your brain and the feeling that you were either really sleepy and about to pass out for no good reason other than elevated sugar levels or that you were shaky, sweating and about to pass out because of depleted sugar levels.

Later in her life, the home diagnosis kits included a box about the size of a calculator, a lancet kit that poked a painful hole multiple times a day in the fingertips, and blood monitoring strips that as often as not produced an error reading and required another bloody poke in the finger to refill.

In the past six weeks, I've had exactly one strip fail, and that because I knew I didn't have enough of a Billy the Blood Drop formed on my fingertip. The lancets leave no pain, and thanks to a co-worker who showed me that "alternate site testing" can be the side of the pinky, they don't hurt at all.

And, with the combination of being able to download data out of my glucose meter and a neat little iPhone app on my iPod, I've got graphics, charts and statistics that really appeal to my brain. It's now a matter of making a good chart, not just "staying on a diet."

With the approach of my favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving, I'll be a monitoring fool. The switch from junk foods to fruits and vegetables, combined with an abandonment of tobacco that occurred immediately upon leaving my doctor's office on Oct. 19, has left me a one-helping eater. Eating more either makes me feel immediately sick or headed to the bathroom within an hour. So, Thanksgiving will be interesting. No pounds of turkey, stuffing and those creamed green beans with the Durkee onions on them for me. Half pounds will be fine. And then, we'll see.

Here's hoping you have a healthy Thanksgiving, surrounded by family or friends. And remember, there's always something for which to be thankful, and for which to conduct one's life as a thankful person.

It's attitude, not words, or, as the Rev. Dr. Philip Makari said last week during the annual Faith in the Future thanksgiving prayer breakfast, think about "thanksLIVING," not just "thanksgiving."




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