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February 12, 2000

Daily Care

Question from Winston-Salem North Carolina, USA:

I lost my machine so I stopped taking insulin. I feel pretty good. Although I can't monitor my sugar, I have adjusted my eating habits and I want to know is this method dangerous? (When I get a headache I eat then I feel better. I assume that my sugar has fallen too low.) I haven't any symptoms to tell me when it's high yet.

Answer:

You have asked a very important question, can you manage your diabetes by how you feel or do you need more specific information such as blood sugar readings to keep your diabetes in good control.

Here’s the analogy I use to answer this question with my patients: Let’s say you just bought a beautiful new car. The engine sounded great and it road smooth on the highway. The only thing missing was the gas gauge and the speedometer. No problem, you say? It rides so well and goes so smooth that shouldn’t be a problem. Well, driving along on a beautiful sunny day went well until the highway patrolman pulled up beside you and the red lights were flashing. Seems you were driving a little too fast. You try to explain, “But officer, it felt just fine driving that speed.” He is sympathetic but gives you a very expensive ticket anyway. On you go, continuing to be amazed at how well the car is running when you round the bend of a very dark and winding road and the car slowly rolls to a stop. What can be the problem you ask? It was running just fine. Well, your car ran out of gas.

Well, I hope this long, winding story tells you the answer I think you already knew. You cannot manage something so important as your health by “how you feel”. Feelings can be so deceiving, both good and bad feelings. I hope you will go right out and get new equipment so that you can have your body running in the best of condition — with you watching the gauges and making decision on the facts, not the feelings.

KS