By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group
I think it’s safe to say (knock wood) that winter is over and spring has arrived in Boston. I’ve finally sent my puffy coat to the cleaners, packed away my scarves and Uggs, and begun to plan for the sunshine and blue skies. I seriously believe in “spring cleaning” because my mother drilled it into me as a kid. As an adult, I see her point about cleaning. I’d like to put another spin on “spring cleaning” and share some tips on how it can apply to taking inventory of your health and improving your diabetes control.
This was a very hard winter even by New England standards, and could undermine the best of intentions. I know personally as well as from what my patients have shared with me that the cold, ice, and snow made it very hard to keep up things like exercise and doctor appointments. The cold and dark made it hard to exercise at home, while macaroni and cheese made many of us feel a lot better. Now is the time to take stock of the past and make improvements as needed.
- Go through all of your prescriptions to check for any that have expired or you are no longer being prescribed (this also refers to any over the counter or non-prescription medications). Check with the Department of Health or your local pharmacy to find the safe way to discard these medicines.
- Look through your diabetes testing supplies and check test strips for their expiration date. Check that you have an active and extra glucometer battery. If you have glucagon in your cabinet check that it is up to date.
- Check to see that all of your prescribed medications are current with your pharmacist and let the doctor’s office know if you need updated prescriptions. It’s a good idea to have an updated medication list with you at all times.
- Take some time to reflect on your eating habits. If you’ve fallen off track, set up an appointment with your RD CDE. Don’t feel upset or guilty if you need extra help – we’ve all been there! The important thing is that you recognize the need to make changes.
- Now is the time to get exercising again. If winter slowed you down, please don’t just resume your usual routine. Start slow and gradually increase your activity as tolerated. Make sure your exercise footwear fits well. You may also need to check your blood sugar more frequently to check for hypoglycemia.
- Medical appointments may have been cancelled by you or your provider because of bad weather. Review your last primary care visit, diabetes visit, ophthalmology check, dental, and podiatry appointments and schedule any that are due.
Those of you who have read this blog in the past know that I tend to focus (some say obsess) on planning for the unexpected. Natural and man-made disasters are totally unpredictable and can cause serious obstacles for managing your diabetes.
- Go through all your emergency supplies and check for content, expiration dates of food, water, batteries, and ALL medical supplies. Review your list to see if certain things are still needed or if new things need to be added.
- You should review your disaster care plan at least every 6 months (or sooner if you’ve needed to use it). I like to do this in the fall and spring because of the weather. I’ll be sure to have several warm blankets and fleeces within easy reach in October, but in May will probably take a few out but add more bottled water given the great danger of dehydration with high temperatures and bright sunshine. I’ll also add insect repellant with DEET and sunscreen. The American Red Cross has excellent up to date data on their website for disaster preparedness so please check it out at www.redcross.org.
OK…are you ready to tackle some spring cleaning? I have another idea: lace up the sneakers and head outside to see the daffodils bloom. Happy Spring!!!