Blood Glucose Envy
On July 14th, tudiabetes had a Test-In, a timed blood sugar check, to celebrate their membership of 14,000 in the tudiabetes community. At 4pm EST, I checked my blood sugar, which was 188, and then posted my reading on the site to go public on tudiabetes.
Many people posted perfect blood glucose; 84, 88, 120, 122 and many left comments about the fact that this was an exciting moment. My 188 reading was actually where I needed to be, but that’s not my target of 120. I was 1 hour postprandial and was about to walk into 3 hours of massage therapy But I decided not to justify my number, so I simply wrote “188, where I need to be.”
As I read many of the comments, I wondered how many people would actually share their number, or if they would participate at all! By the next morning, I saw over 650 comments. Not bad, but for total participation that was a stunning comment about how many of us feel about “the number.” As of today, tudiabetes said, “… Well over a 1000 people participated…” 1,400 would be 10% of the total members.
This is not a reflection on tudiabetes, but a glimpse of the problem many suffer: I call it the “what if my number isn’t perfect!” syndrome. I saw a few people comment on high blood sugars. One person wrote, “326, this is not a good diabetes day. And I don’t want to talk about it!” Another read, “238 ugh, how embarrassing to post this publicly.” One commenter said “250 and no idea why? Another lovely day!”
I think one of the hardest parts of living with diabetes is blood sugar/A1C envy. It’s so hard to be in balance all the time and asked at the spur of the moment to give a number, well that would make my blood pressure and blood glucose rise! Very few of us can do it without a healthy dose of OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder!
I remember a few years ago, I was at the JDRF gala and a woman sitting next me asked if I was having trouble with my blood sugar. Meanwhile, I was devouring dessert, with a 132 blood sugar! I felt so bad! I was having a perfect night and she was struggling with getting her blood sugar down. I could see the frustration and fear in her face, “why can’t I be in that perfect square?”
Of all the tools in the “diabetes management box”, blood sugar control is the most important. But perfect is hard to obtain. And what do you do, if you struggle everyday to find the balance? Many give up, cave in and make the day harder on us. Add depression, and that’s another notch up on the glucose meter!
Blood sugar checks should average 4-6 times a day for type 1. But the number for type 2 blood sugar checks varies. When I’m not literally running around, or working on clients, I check at least that many times. But the truth is, I average 4 checks, and on a really hard day, I average two: one in the morning and one in the evening around dinner time. The one I forget most frequently is bedtime. I am often eating dinner at 8 pm, so to check the blood glucose at 10 pm would mean a postprandial reading. If I bolus for that, I wake up 2 hours later with a low and then often rebound by morning. And that once-a month-thing - forget it! The last two days has been classic! I had 300s all day Saturday, ate well, corrected, and could not seem to keep the number from climbing. Breakfast: 158, one hour later: 311, lunch: 303, afternoon: 180, dinner: 311. So I chased the numbers with insulin all day. What happened? I had a 40 at 12:25 am with a snack and no bolus, at 3 am 300, and 158 when I woke up at 8, I had a sugar hangover! Ugh, hate that! So Sunday looked like this: lunch: 118, afternoon (3-5pm): 132, dinner: 120, 10 pm: 40, 1 am: 43, snack and no bolus, woke up at 7 am at 78. Today it has been more tempered. Post breakfast 158, 11AM 233, tried to reach that high to go for a 6 mile run. Post run: 230, bolus, two hours later: 63, current, before dinner reading: 115.
Most days when I see dramatic swings, they tell me I’m hormonally challenged, or BG can be like a watchdog, my body is defending itself, flu or cold! And then there are the days that I’m just having a bad day! The best I can do is chase the number. Too low = eat, and too high = more insulin. Most of us feel exhausted after a day like this, but that’s the game we have to play. Not everyday will be like what I’ve just described, but some days will be “the diabetes onion,” meaning, it makes us cry! Don’t be afraid to share. All of us living with diabetes, whichever form, are there with you!
By the way, kudos to Manny and the team at tudiabetes! They put the event together and successfully reached out to the press and diabetes community at large, who warmly embraced the effort.
Ann wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.