Life is an apt teacher. 2015 didn’t disappoint in regards to the diabetes lessons. I went back through this year’s posts and pulled a few observations that I’d like to act upon in 2016. Maybe these connect with your own diabetes management. If not, at least it was therapeutic.
Have a Happy New Year everyone!
Denial exists even after 18 years
You’re thinking “how can a person who writes for a diabetes website have denial about diabetes?” Pretty valid question. Let me explain.
This fall, I was listening to a professor talk about how he radically changed his own diabetes management. After he visited his endocrinologist, received an a1c of 11 after getting the diagnosis a few months earlier, the facts had to be faced. He was a diabetic (person with diabetes). His pancreas is not coming back. Sugar is a toxin. Every added gram he put in his system jeopardized his heart disease risk. He stopped eating a jar of jelly beans every morning. His a1c dropped to 6.
I don’t eat jars of jelly beans but I did buy cereal that has added sugar, trail mix with chocolate, and put maple syrup in my oatmeal. After I heard him describe his own denial, I stopped buying those foods. Perhaps you’ve already made this subtle choice, but using my otherwise healthy vegan diet as a crutch, I too faced the facts and have felt a significant change in my blood sugars.
Resolution: If it’s got added sugar in it, don’t buy it. (Not saying that I’ll avoid all sweets but will pick my battles wiser.)
I can’t be afraid to go low
I know, this isn’t all that bad. Low blood sugars aren’t that fun or remotely safe. But a fear of going low can act as a glass ceiling, limiting our ability to achieve our goals and subsequent prevention of all the horrible stuff we hear about. Even as I’m writing, with a blood sugar of 206, I’ve been mentally debating whether or not to take a half unit or a full unit. If I take a half unit, I guarantee it stays about 150 and I feel great. If I take a full unit, I can’t guarantee it will stay above 90 and feel great. (The full unit was eventually taken and my blood sugar was 110 by the time I ate dinner an hour later.)
This may not seem like a huge deal but what are the ramifications of sustained half units instead of the fulls? Maybe an 8.0 a1c to a 7.5 a1c. Perhaps the sliver of a difference between retinopathy at 70 or at 60. I honestly don’t know but I’m now willing to work more aggressively in 2016.
Resolution: Dial it up and be prepared in that case that I do go low.
No need to be a hero
So, if the pump manufacturer suggests that you only wear a site for 3 days, but you push it to 5-6 each time, I get what you’re about. I’ve been about that life since I was 12. For most of my life, I’ve waited to see numbers track up or insulin lose its sensitivity before changing sites. But damn, it’s really not worth it.
Resolution: Change my pump sites at 3 days.
Exercise corrects the margin for error
It was a heavy semester of material and I spent a considerably greater amount of time in the library, not on the trail or in the gym. Throughout, I noticed a bit more variability in my blood sugars. Just a little higher. When I reinserted consistent visits to the gym, bike, or trail, things just corrected. My blood sugar didn’t rise quite as quick. My sugars were just a little lower in the morning. Voila.
Resolution: Find a way to move, not just walking around the school campus, at least 4 times per week.
Things never fail to change
Say you’ve had a few days of really high blood sugars. You don’t even know the reason. It just showed up.
This always changes though. Things always come down. Things always go up. Impermanence will do its balancing thing.
Resolution: Trust in impermanence. Don’t focus on the numbers. Focus on the process. Keep doing your job and things will work out.