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Living with Diabetes

Remembering to check blood sugars and take medication

4/27/2020 by mySugr

Remembering to check blood sugars and take medication

It can be hard remembering to take your medication and check blood sugars, especially when routines are out of whack. mySugr coaches Kristen and Maggie talk about why it’s important and share helpful tips and tricks.

Today Scott talks with Kristen and Maggie about how to remember to take your medications and check blood sugars even if your routine is all out of whack. They've got some great tips and tricks for you. Let's dive right in.

Note: We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care.

Topics

  • Why it's important to take medications consistently
  • Recommendations for remembering
  • How to limit risks when getting your medications

Links

Transcript

Scott K. Johnson - Hey, great to see you. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Coaches Corner. I hope you are holding up all right and hanging in there. These are challenging and stressful times for almost everyone out there. Now we are full of gratitude and appreciation for everyone doing their part to get through this. One small way that mySugr can give back is by hosting these short conversations with our diabetes coaches to talk about staying healthy in body and mind during these unusual times. Now I have to give the standard disclaimer. We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care. Today I'm talking with Kristen and Maggie about how to remember to take your medications and check blood sugars and they've got some great tips and tricks for you. Let's dive right in. All right, hi again, friends. Today we are talking about medications and monitoring blood sugar and how for so many of us, myself very much included, a routine is a key to remembering to take medications and check blood sugars and do all the things, right? But in the midst of everything going on, routines are just disrupted and many have experienced even disruptions in getting supplies. Maybe the first thing we should talk about is why is it so important to take our medications consistently?

Maggie Evans - Yeah, Scott, that's a great question. So I think one of the main things, especially in times like these where we have a lot of unknowns going on, I think one of the main priorities for a lot of people is just to take care of ourselves. And blood sugar management for people with diabetes is one aspect of that. And so managing our blood sugars can really help us stay on top of our game in a way. We know that if blood sugars are elevated or kind of out of control, hard to bring back into target range, it can cause just other complications, right? We know historically wound healing can be compromised, it can just make us more tired or lethargic so it can make other areas of our life just a little bit more difficult to manage. So really kind of keeping those blood sugars within target range can be helpful as we're kind of navigating this yet again odd time that we're in, it can just help people stay that much healthier through this time.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, it's just like you say, doing everything we can to stay as healthy as we can in all areas, right? When I think about taking my medications consistently, and I know that the areas of expertise that you guys have are really around dietary stuff. But when I think about my oral medications maybe, is there anything around the time of day that I want to keep in mind? Is it like if I'm taking my pills at nine o'clock in the morning one day and three o'clock in the afternoon the next day, should I have expectations that that's just going to be fine or is it better to be taking them around the similar time of day? What are your thoughts there?

Kristen Bourque - Well, I think that again, another great question Scott. But yeah, consistency is so important and I think Maggie mentioned this a little bit is that I think right now we don't have as much structure as we're used to. So I think it's very easy maybe we're sleeping in or we are not eating at the same time that we normally do if we went to work. So like you said, as a result, if there are certain medications that should be based around mealtime, then as a result, they're not going to be on the same timeline as usual. So it is very important regarding, of course, your medication type to be taking it consistently, especially with certain types of insulin and whatnot too. You don't want to be taking those dosages too close together too. So you can always, when in doubt call your doctor. Generally, most of them are doing phone calls or virtual visits and things like that. If you did have any questions about, if you happen to miss a dose or if you weren't sure about that. But yes, it is going to be important to still be consistent and as close to that window as possible with your medications to make sure they're working effectively. But also not to take too much at one time too.

Scott K. Johnson - Great points. And Kristen, you have a great bunch of tips and recommendations for helping with routines and remembering to take those medications on time. Let's dive into some of that stuff.

Kristen Bourque - Yeah, so I think again as I said, we're in this kind of new normal trying to figure out a new schedule. So something that I think is always a good thing is to have your medications visible. So I always keep my medication or my vitamins right by my coffee machine because you better believe I'm hitting that every day. So I want that visual reminder to see them and remember. So I think that's always a key thing with anything as having that, again, a reminder in some way. So whether it's going to be on your medicine cabinet or somewhere right where you brush your teeth every morning. So something that keys in, "Hey, I have to take my medication." And again, especially if it's based around mealtime so you can kind of keep it right with something that you have every day as some sort of food or on the kitchen table, something, again, that keys in to remind you there. So that's always a good tip. Another one is to log it. So again, like anything else, if we're logging or we talk about our food, so it brings accountability, it helps us to stay consistent with it. So the same thing would be logging our medication. So in the mySugr app, you actually have the option to log your medications. So that is a really great recommendation I would encourage you to do now if you're struggling with remembering. You usually just enter in your current medication and then you would select it when you add your entry in after you've taken it. So that really helped, I think with keeping that piece just "Hey, I took it, let me go ahead and put it in there" and then you can move on with the rest of your day. Also, some people find it helpful. I set alarms for everything. So I think that's really something that probably a lot of people do. But you can set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to take your medication. So again, just this simple way. So, even if those other options don't work for you, having something like that that, "Hey, you got to take my medication." Just a simple reminder can help as well. And then some people do like a pillbox. So, of course, we're talking not just about oral medications, there are other injectables that we have to think about, but some people, again, the visual of having that Monday through Sunday sort of looking at that visually knowing, if you've taken it that day can also be helpful too.

Scott K. Johnson - Okay, great. And a lot of these reminder techniques would also work for remembering to monitor blood sugars, right?

Kristen Bourque - Yes. So definitely I think, again, setting an alarm would be a great recommendation if you tend to forget, but also you can keep your meter. So same thing, like you said, it's have they, again, I'm going to have breakfast, I have my medication right on my kitchen table. I have my meter right on my kitchen table. So it kind of, again, keys in that I need to do those things before eating. So yeah, any kind of, again, visual reminders, have your meter available, accessible around the house or wherever you're typically spending more time maybe. But again, like you said, the same tips I would say apply and of course kind of logging it in, automatically it's logging in your app. But that is again a good kind of key to have those two together just as a good daily reminder for sure.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, that's great.

Scott K. Johnson - I think, Kristin, what you said too, like kind of keying that in with something that you're already doing daily. That's like an automatic thing, right? So like yet again that coffee machine, the brushing your teeth. If we can keep those supplies and keep that reminder with that kind of automatic thing that's already happening, we're much more likely to engage in that kind of habit that we want to add into our routine or keep consistent in our routine if we keep it with those other things that are just so automatic in our day. So I love that idea.

Maggie Evans - And I think Scott too it's important of course we always love to encourage regular monitoring our blood sugar for a number of reasons. I think also during this time it's good to pay attention to because we are, we're a lot more stressed. We're a lot, maybe sleep deprived, there's a lot more, again, things that are going on that are unusual and not part of our normal if we look back two months ago, right? So our blood sugars might be reflecting that piece of it too. So also that's important too when we're talking about the importance of medications and blood sugar management is to make sure that we are paying attention to that. And you can also log your emotions in the app too if you find that, "Hey, today was a really stressful day," and then you can see that correlation and know, okay, it was mainly due to stress.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, those are great points. One of the things that I also do when I notice, or I'm kind of troubleshooting blood sugars that have just been stubbornly out of range for me is I'll do kind of a mental check-in. Have I been remembering to take my additional diabetes medications on schedule and regularly? So that's another thing to add to the mental checklist. Let's shift gears a little bit. So we've talked about why it's important to take them and some strategies around reminders and routines that we can build into our days. But many people right now are experiencing disruptions in even getting their medications. In fact, there was a recent survey from our friends at dQ&A. dQ&A is a company with decades of experience in quantitative and qualitative research in diabetes that, and we'll put a link to this in the comments. But the survey showed a significant disruption for people with diabetes medications and supplies or getting their medications and supplies. So there's that. And then another concern is like reducing exposure and limiting risks going into pharmacies. What are some things that people can do to help alleviate some of those concerns?

Kristen Bourque - Again, great questions Scott. So like you said we never really thought twice about going into the pharmacy to get our prescription, but yes, we have to take those extra precautions. We are trying to limit trips. So one of the things I would recommend is to see if your, doctor, well, first I should say is if you have to go in, first of all, ideally, again, using the drive-through of course, because you're limiting your exposure to other people aside from the person helping you. And again, I will tell you if there is other options as we go through for you to do that, just making sure to practice those same standards wearing a mask and the hand sanitizer. And again, just trying to limit, again your contact with that person of course. The other thing I was going to say too is that, you would recommend calling your pharmacy to see is there a way, maybe you have five medications, is there a way that they can actually put them all in one order so that way you're not doing multiple trips to the store. Again, you probably didn't think about it before, right? But again, now we want to try to limit the number of trips that we're taking. So if we are going to go to the pharmacy again, ideally drive-through and I'm trying to limit the amount of times that we have to go. Now for people that aren't able to go get their medications or I would recommend for people that maybe are older or immunocompromised. So any kind of recommendations of those people to try to limit and staying at home more, the option potentially to have someone pick up your medication for you is definitely something I would consider. Most of the time it's not an issue. You can always call the pharmacy ahead of time, but you want to generally make sure that you have that person's, of course, maybe insurance information, their date of birth, just the general stuff that they would ask you if you went in. And that's always another option. So if you have someone that is able to get some things, that's another, another option there. Now a couple other, you know even better recommendations if you're able to is ask your pharmacist if they're able to do home delivery. So there is a couple of pharmacies I know of, there may be more, but CVS and Walgreens specifically are offering up a free home delivery at this time. And now again, you can say due to COVID, there's a lot of nice changes they've made to make things easier. So I don't think that home delivery, I don't know about in the past with costs and stuff, but it's something they're making more accessible to people, which is a great opportunity. So another thing I would mention also too to your pharmacist is if you're able to get a larger amount of your medication. So again, limiting the number of times you have to go in, but also as you said, Scott, there's a concern about having your medication, right? So if you're able to get a larger amount at one time, that's also another great suggestion. Your pharmacist may need to call your doctor, but generally, I think at this time it shouldn't be an issue to get a larger amount. Interestingly enough, most insurances are actually allowing for larger amounts to be prescribed due to kind of the situation with COVID-19. So if that kind of helps anyone just take a little extra, the stress, and breath and say, "Okay, that's good to know." Now mail order is another option. So we mentioned here again drive through, home delivery, and then lastly would be the mail delivery option. So, and I know Scott, you currently get some medications home delivered. So I'll have you kind of speak to that a little bit, But again, it just really cuts out that middleman and helps to limit the number of times that you're going out and about. And again, it's generally kind of the same situation that you would do with something like costs and stuff going into the pharmacy. There's a couple that I'm familiar with here, CVS has one called Caremark, Amazon has PillPack, Express Scripts. So you can kind of look to see in terms of the different plans and the options there. But that's another good and great recommendation I would look into at this time.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, I'm a happy customer of PillPack. So the thing that I enjoy about PillPack is that they presort all of my oral medications or pills into daily kind of tear-off plastic pouches, right? So I don't want, in the past, I used to really get tired of taking my bottles of pills and sorting them into the little pillboxes. Although I think that's still a great strategy and for routines and reminders and stuff like that, but I just got tired of that weekly or biweekly maintenance when I learned about PillPack. So the way that it works right now is I receive a monthly supply of pre-sorted medications and I pop this like roll of plastic pouches into a dispenser and every morning and evening I tear off my pouches and tear open the pouch. And there I've got my pills they're marked with the date, the medications, the dosage, and it's really quite slick and I like it.

Kristen Bourque - Really cool.

Scott K. Johnson - They're also a full-service pharmacy, so I also get my insulin and injectable medications from them, those show up in a refrigerated styrofoam kind of box, very similar to mail order deliveries that I've used in the past. So I'm a very happy customer of PillPack and they've been very easy to work with from a customer service standpoint and there's no additional costs insurance wise. And they're also a full-service pharmacy. So I can include in my little pouches, additional over the counter things like vitamins and things like that. So two thumbs up on PillPack from Scott here.

Kristen Bourque - I'm glad you were able to speak to that too because I think a lot of people might be a little leery, especially with medications that need to be refrigerated specifically insulin. So it's really great to know that they have options for safe delivery. So, yeah, very cool. Thanks for sharing.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Great, well this is a awesome rundown of reminders and routines and hows and whys and all kinds of stuff. Anything else that you guys want to cover before we wrap this part up?

- No, I think, it's just important to make sure, like you said, Scott, is I know that a lot of people probably stress about their medications on top of everything else. So I think it's just important to kind of look at some of these avenues and to feel comfortable in this supply of medications that you have at home. And obviously things like test strips and things like that, shouldn't have any concerns there, but yeah, so it's a good to just have a little bit of supply that you feel comfortable and know what avenues to go to so that you can have that stress taken out during this time.

- Yeah, great point.

- And just try and be as consistent yet again, as we've been talking about consistent with your medication as you can just to kind of keep blood sugars within target range, keep yourself well, keep yourself feeling well. So then you're able to continue on with your day and continue your other healthy habits as well.

Scott K. Johnson - That sounds good. All right. And I think it also would be good for us to share again, you know, we've put this resource out a couple of times, but I really like it. It is a list of patient support and patient assistance programs for those of you who may be having difficulty affording your diabetes medications. Molly shared a great message with a support for that. We also want to acknowledge that there may be many of you who are experiencing a lot of change around your insurance and employment and financial situation around this time. So we'll share all the resources that we can around that as well. So with that, thank you both for this very informative session and we'll see you very soon again for another one. All right, there you have it. Good stuff, right? I know that with the disruption in routine, it can be very, very challenging to keep up on everything else that, that routine touches and ties into including remembering to take our medications and check blood sugars and all that good stuff. So I hope that there were some helpful tips and tricks and pieces of information in there for you. I know it was helpful for me. With that, have a great rest of your day. I hope that you'll come back on Wednesday where, again, I'm joining Kristin and Maggie to talk about sleep and the importance of sleep. And I know I was very surprised to hear about all of the different ways that sleep impacts my life. And hey, leave us some questions. If we didn't cover anything that you wanted to hear about or you've got questions about something, leave them in the comments and we're happy to address them in an upcoming episode. Until then, stay well and we'll see you next time. Bye.

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