Managing a chronic illness like diabetes is more an issue of behavioral change than it is a medical treatment. Sure for insulin dependent diabetics, management requires not only learning to administer the injection, but how to manipulate the doses. But the majority of diabetes management involves understanding how various foods and exercise affects blood sugar levels, and learning to orchestrate a routine that keeps a relative flat line of glucose levels within the normal range

The same is true of living on dialysis or transplant living. Other than being compliant with the doctor’s orders, most of the activity while on dialysis or maintaining a healthy transplant, involves a behavioral change.

Many times, dietary restrictions like low sodium, low fat, low glycemic, means that people need to learn to eat and cook differently. Often times this means a change not only for the person afflicted with the chronic condition, but the entire family. For instance, my husband has a condition unrelated to diabetes or transplant that requires him to eat a low sodium diet. Since I prepare about 99.99% of the meals in our house, that means that after a life of no sugar and low carbohydrate diets, I now add to our meals, low sodium! But it doesn’t work if I prepare his meals separately. In a world of processed foods with lots of added salt, eating low sodium is healthy for everyone.

Since a lot of chronic conditions are aided and best managed by lifestyle changes and establishing a routine, I’ve started a health coaching practice which works is concert with your doctor’s care plan. Once your doctor has prescribed the necessary activities, I work with the patient to develop a regimen that makes those changes fall in concert with your current life.

Perhaps the busiest and most difficult to manage time in my life was when I was a dialysis patient. I was CEO of a manufacturing company, married with a son in elementary school. My job was an hour away from my son’s school. He played soccer and went Kumon twice a week after school. Peritoneal dialysis required that I did one midday exchange and connected to a Cycler at night to perform the dialysis as I slept. My diabetes required glucose monitoring four times a day and insulin injections twice a day. Because dialysis can cause the blood pressure to fluctuate to dangerous levels, I also needed to monitor my weight daily and blood pressure several times a day.  At that time I was sodium restricted as well as on a diabetic diet, and so the best way to control sodium and sugar was to prepare meals myself. As a busy wife, mother and CEO, that was more than a notion, but necessary and therefore not impossible.

All of those requirements—medical, occupational and familial could be summarized like this:

  • Eating out had to be a rare treat

  • I needed diabetic and dialysis medication and testing supplies handy at home and at work

  • In order to cook healthy meals and eat at reasonable times, I had to have them prepped to the point of spending an hour to finalize them for dinner.

  • In order to attend my son’s sporting events and participate in the snack schedule or take him to Kumon even when I would normally work late, meant I had to have business resources at home (computer, fax, printer, binding equipment, presentation folders, etc.).

When I finally got my Ultimate Multitasking Routine in swing, this is how it ran…typically.

  • My workday began at 5:30 am in order to disconnect from my cycler, do all of my testing (weight, glucose, blood pressure), take my insulin plan and prep dinner, prepare lunches for everyone to take to school or work, prepare a light breakfast, and if necessary complete any last minute items for work.

  • Our routine was that my husband usually took my son to school and I usually picked him up from school. As they left, I dressed and left for work. My commute was about 45 minutes which allowed me time to clear voicemail and not walk into any surprises.

  • I kept a three drawer plastic storage cabinet under my desk to store a glucometer, testing supplies, dialysis fluid, blood pressure cuff and supplies, an extra pair of pantyhose and nail polish remover—for other emergencies. The key to being compliant with doctor’s orders is to make the process easy to do and have all of the necessary items available. So at midday, I was ready to test and do my midday dialysis exchange. I kept my stock of dialysis fluid replenished by loading up the car on Sunday night and bringing it into the office each Monday morning.

  • If my son had an after school activity, I would also load up the car the night before with the team snack or whatever was necessary so that I could leave work, pick him up from school and be ready with whatever supplies.

  • Because dinner had been prepped that morning, it was usually within an hour of being done, if not crock pot ready. While completing dinner, I supervised my son while doing homework and was available for questions.

  • In the evening, I completed bedtime testing, took medications, and finished any job related work and prepared for the next day.

 

While of course, things didn’t always work out this smoothly, it was my home base, and when things like illness or other family functions got in the way of this routine, I knew where to return.

I would like to help others with chronic conditions to develop the routine that works best for them to be compliant to their doctors orders and live healthy lives without making overwhelming changes to their current lifestyle.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HEALTH COACHING, click on the Health Coaching Tab above.

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