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Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them To Manage Your Diabetes

Checking your blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is an important part of diabetes care. This tip sheet tells you: why it helps you to know your blood sugar numbers how to check your blood sugar levels what are target blood sugar levels what to do if your levels are too low or too high how to pay for these tests Why do I need to know my blood sugar numbers? Your blood sugar numbers show how well your diabetes is managed. And managing your diabetes means that you have less chance of having serious health problems, such as kidney disease and vision loss. As you check your blood sugar, you can see what makes your numbers go up and down. For example, you may see that when you are stressed or eat certain foods, your numbers go up. And, you may see that when you take your medicine and are active, your numbers go down. This information lets you know what is working for you and what needs to change. How is blood sugar measured? There are two ways to measure blood sugar. Blood sugar checks that you do yourself. These tell you what your blood sugar level is at the time you test. The A1C (A-one-C) is a test done in a lab or at your provider’s office. This test tells you your average blo Continue reading >>

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  1. Shokhet

    Diabetes is a חולי שיש בו סכנה, an illness that poses a danger to life1. As such, everything necessary for caring for diabetes must be done on Shabbos, even if it includes איסורי תורה. (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 328, Rambam, Hilchot Shabbos 2, שמירת שבת כהלכתה, ch. 32)
    However, if it makes no difference to the speed/efficacy in which care is provided, one should minimize the amount of חילול שבת, both in the amount of actions done, as well as in the severity of the prohibitions violated (Biblical vs. rabbinic). [Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchasa, 32:27-29]
    Therefore, blood sugar testing, which is a medical necessity for PWD (especially those with insulin-dependent DM), must be done on Shabbos, but the prohibitions violated should be limited.
    How should one check blood sugar on Shabbos, while minimizing Shabbos violations?
    1Whether due to hypo or hyperglycemia, both which can are preventable -- given that they are discovered before they happen, like by blood sugar check.

  2. Shokhet

    Since this is a how-to question, I will answer it with practical advice. Questions about the particular halachos mentioned in passing may be asked separately.
    Here's what I've been told to do, with illustrative pictures. Before changing anything about what you do personally, you should talk to both your rabbi and your doctor. What is written here is just practical advice, gleaned from years of experience (and conversations with Rabbi Hirsch Meisels).
    Step 0
    What are we dealing with?
    A: blood sugar meter (measures blood sugar levels)
    B1: strip container (contains strips)
    B2: testing strips (brings blood into meter)
    C: lancet (draws blood)
    Step 1
    Inserting strip
    In order to use the meter, the strip has to be inserted. Doing so turns the meter on, and possibly created a kli (vessel), as neither piece is usable by itself. As such, a shinui should be used to insert the strip into the meter.
    Meter with strip in it:
    Suggested shinui (insert halfway, and push against a table):
    Step 2
    Drawing blood ("lancing")
    Drawing blood to test is usually done by pressing the button on the lancet with a finger, like this:
    To replace this possible איסור דאורייתא (Biblical prohibition) with a שינוי (different way of doing it, considered halachically to be less severe), lancing should be done with a knuckle, like this:
    Anecdotally, I've used about everything, from elbows to forehead. (Yes, forehead :P )
    Step 2.5
    Squeezing blood
    Squeezing blood out of the wound (in case there is not enough from just the lancing) is problematic on Shabbos, due to the prohibition of dash (the weirdest form of squeezing liquid from solid you're ever likely to see), so it should be done with a shinui if possible.
    Regular squeeze:
    Suggested shinui: use the lancet
    Then put the drop of blood on the strip, like normal, and collect the result. Do not turn off the meter after use, because this serves no purpose on Shabbos (unless the battery will die, and this meter is needed for more tests over the course of Shabbos).

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