In this 5-part blog series I am revisiting my 5 key coaching strategies which are the foundation for my new HOME COACHING VIDEOS! The videos (to be released in November) help YOU build vital skills that dramatically improve your ability to deal with all that diabetes throws at you. It is more than just diet and exercise. Diabetes impacts every area of your life, you need skills for body, mind and soul!
October 21 was National Check Your Meds Day! What a great segue for this blog post about the importance of diabetes education! If you have diabetes and have seen a provider you have likely gotten some information about diabetes. In this modern era, you can find vast information about the illness, its treatment, and complications online. There is SOOO much information about diabetes, it can become a blur. This is especially true when it comes to medication. Being well informed about the medications you take is not an option! With the potential for information overload, I have 5 steps to help you sort it all out.
1. Create a Meds List
This seems like an obvious and easy chore, but I find many clients don’t have a current and up to date list of what they are taking. Sure you have the “bag o’ meds” as we used to refer to the paper sack of prescription bottles patients brought to the ER. Shoot I have my bottles in a bag in my med cabinet. That isn’t so unusual. But having a written list in your wallet makes a lot of sense. Do you really take ALL the meds you have? Could you recite them from memory if it was necessary? Even if you can’t pronounce them or spell them, that list is critically important in emergencies as well as routine care.
2. Look Them Up (Again)
When was the last time you read up on what you are putting in your body? It is nearly impossible to remember all the details, side effects, and warnings about all your meds. Even if you have looked them up before, take a few minutes reading up on your meds. Better yet, input them into an online checking tool to see if there are any conflicts. I suppose we think out providers will automatically do all this checking or perhaps your pharmacist, but that may or may not be the case. Take this extra step to know the most you can.
I like this site. You can look them up by name or by information on the pill itself.
It also has an interaction checker, to identify potential drug reactions or medications that change the effect of other medications
3. Know What They Are For
“My doctor prescribed them” is not the correct answer to “Why are you taking this med?”. While you are doing your research, be sure to know what each medication is doing for you. Is it treating a symptom? Maybe preventing a complication? Or making another drug work better? Perhaps its a short term problem like an infection or for pain. Managing your diabetes well, requires you to be informed and aware of your treatment. And even better, that you AGREE you want to take it! Knowing what they are is the first step.
4. Keep the List With You
Fold up the list, take a picture of it with your phone or laminate a small card. But have it on your person. 99% of the time you will never need it, but in case of emergency, it is mission critical. From my years as an ER nurse, I cannot stress how important this information is. What medication you take tells first responders a lot about you. I don’t know how many times I have asked people about their medical history and the reply is “nothing – I’m healthy”, to find out they are on multiple medications for chronic conditions. To their credit, as long as they are taking their meds they don’t feel they have a problem. If you don’t do anything else, DO THIS!!!
5. Review With Your Provider
If you are like me, every visit to a provider includes a “Meds List Review”. Typically the nurse goes over the list they have on file to make sure it matches with what you are taking. All well and good, but that is about their record keeping. Does this time during your office visit feel helpful to you? If you have more than one provider it is even MORE important to go over this with EVERY doctor. Flip the tables and interview your provider about your meds. Not sure how to do it? Consider these questions:
- What does this medication do?
- It costs this much, is there a cheaper alternative?
- Is this really necessary?
- How long will I need to take this?
- Could this be the reason I am having “insert symptom here”?
- Are there any natural remedies I could try?
- Does this medication impact my blood sugar?
- What happens if I miss a dose?
For most of us, medication is part of our treatment plan. Be sure YOU are in charge of what you are putting in your body, you understand what it does and you agree with the plan. From that place, you are better able to deal with all that diabetes throws at you! If you are a subscriber, I added a Provider Visit Worksheet to my Blog email. Use this to help organize your medications and other important diabetes information before your next provider visit. Not a subscriber? CLICK HERE to get a free download of the form.
If you are feeling stuck in a ‘diabetes rut’ maybe it’s time to revisit some basic diabetes education? Diabetes is a complex disease and a refresher could create a few “light bulb moments for you! There are several ways to take your next step!
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