We're all familiar with -- or should be familiar with -- the standard lab tests to assess our diabetes control. You know, the hemoglobin A1c, the lipid level tests, blood pressure, kidney function tests, and so forth.
Sometimes it seems as if every time we work hard to get our numbers in the normal range, some authority decides to lower the bar so the doctors can continue to nag us to "get those numbers down."
But how many know about these new tests that scientists have designed to make us work even harder? In case your health care team hasn't told you about them, I thought I should fill you in.
D1c. The D1c test measures how often you've thought about doughnuts in the past three months divided by 100. Normal values range from 3 to 5. Some people with diabetes have been known to have values as high as 100, thus proving the old saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."
The test uses three months because studies have shown that the doughnut-memory centers in the brain regenerate every 120 days. This is a good thing, because stale doughnuts aren't very good.
Your doctor may prefer the D1cc test, which measures your attraction to chocolate doughnuts. Normal values for this test are 20 to 50.
bp. You've probably heard of "white coat hypertension." This means that your blood pressure (BP) goes up when you go to see a doctor and might be quite normal at home. The doctors usually prescribe pills anyway, because that's what doctors do.
The odd thing is that if you tell your doctor that onions give you heartburn, the doctor usually suggests that you stop eating onions. But if you say that visiting your doctor gives you hypertension, they never suggest that you stop seeing doctors.
And there's another iatrogenic (caused by the medical profession) cause of hypertension: the doctor's bill. I know a lot of people whose BP goes up when they see what it cost to visit a doctor who just told them to lose weight and exercise more and then moved on to the next patient without even looking at their feet.
So the bp test is a measure of "bill pressure," the amount your blood pressure increases when you get the bills. If you're rich or have good health insurance, your bp is usually fine.
If your bp is high, the best solution is to ask the doctor to stop sending bills.
SSDL. You surely know all about HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, and maybe even VLDL, very low density lipoprotein. A new test measures the amount of SSDL, or so-so-density lipoprotein.
Normal levels of SSDL tend to vary a lot, because they depend on how energetic your lipoproteins are feeling at the moment. When they're full of energy and raring to go, they form themselves into compact little HDL particles. If they're feeling lazy, they become the lighter LDL particles, which just sort of float around causing problems for everyone.
The SSDL particles are the wishy-washy ones that just can't make up their mind. Their levels tend to be high in people who can't make up their minds either, who keep yo-yoing from low-carb to high-carb diets, depending on the Diet of the Week in the daily tabloids.
Hence the SSDL test tells the doctor how apt you will be to follow any prescribed regimen. You want your SSDL levels to be as low as possible. Normal levels are usually defined as being a little lower than whatever yours are that day.
DW or NW. The DW and NW are the doctor's and nurse's weights, respectively. This is one test that is really fun to get. You go to the office for an appointment and get weighed. The doctor tells you to lose weight.
So you ask for the DW test, weigh the doctor, and ask why the doctor hasn't lost weight since you last saw him or her. Then you ask for the NW test, weigh the nurse, and ask the same thing.
It's really fun to tell other people to lose weight. So make sure you get a DW and NW test next time you see your doctor. You'll love it.
Published On: August 06, 2007