setting goals

Diabetes Thresholds

Kerri Sparling Health Guide July 21, 2010
  • Thresholds.  Levels of tolerance.  For an English major like me, numbers take on a more connotative and emotional meaning.  And diabetes numbers play into a whole host of variables.

    Like when I'm about to get behind the wheel.  I've heard people discussing what numbers are "safest" to drive at, and I think that's a personal preference.  For me, numbers like 131 and 92 are friendly and make me feel road-worthy.  I'll drive at 180 - 250 mg/dl as well, so long as I'm making attempts to correct it down.  But numbers close to 70 mg/dl or over 250 mg/dl are key-passers for me.  As in "Hey, you drive." 

    Or when I'm going to bed.  Bedtime basals have been nailed down solid for just over a year now, allowing me to go to bed at 99 mg/dl and wake up at 110 mg/dl.  There's barely a flux, unless I breastfeed the baby (and that's a whole new set of variables).  A few years ago, I would have stolen a swig of juice or popped a few glucose tabs to keep me steady through the night.  At Clara Barton Camp, anything under 120 mg/dl warranted a "double snack" coupon (which was awesome when it was pudding and graham crackers night but sort of sucked on apples and peanut butter night).  My thresholds for nighttime sugars are much tighter now.


    Different numbers at different times.  Go to bed at a blood sugar of 90?  Yes, please.  Go to the gym at 90?  No way - time for some crackers, a swig of juice, and a pump disconnection.  I don't like starting a cardio workout at anything under 150 mg/dl, because exercise hits me like a ton of treadmills.

    A blood sugar of 150 mg/dl at the beach?  I'd leave that one alone because the sun and just five minutes in the ocean makes me drop hard. 

    Feeling anxious?  If I ring in at 120 mg/dl and I'm feeling very keyed up, I know that a half of a unit of Humalog needs to course in to counteract the stress hormones that hijack my A1c sometimes.

    Each number plays different offense in varying situations.   It's a challenge to follow the playbook.

    The human body is absolutely amazing in the way each organ works together with such precision, maintaining our homeostasis and keeping us kicking.  But the mind of a diabetic is pretty damn amazing, too.  We have trained our minds to think like a pancreas.  We are the people who know how many carbs are floating around in a bowl of pasta.  We are the ones who can take a blood sugar number and fold it into any situation - 140 on the soccer field means more orange slices while 140 at the dinner table means correcting the high and navigating the meal.  We are the ones who are trying to compensate for some cells that simply gave out on us.  It's not an easy task, crawling inside the thoughts of a working pancreas and trying to mimic it's performance.  There are moments of elation.  There are moments where we stumble.  And moments when we just plain fall flat on our faces.

    This is very tough some days.  There are times when I feel damp and wrung out with frustration at a few points.

    But then I notice that BSparl has learned to giggle, and I spend hours trying to make her laugh.  Or I rediscover a book of Farside cartoons and I grin.  Or my husband does something goofy (which isn't a rarity) and I laugh out loud. 


  • My threshold for certain numbers varies every day, but my threshold for laughter and love is without boundaries.