Diabetes. Our lives with diabetes is a balancing act.
Keep those numbers in between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL. We know that a hemoglobin A1c reading under 7.0% is optimal. As we also know, there are studies that show that people who achieve this are more likely to spend a fair amount of time with hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar) than people who don’t. Among other things, hypoglycemia can potentially do damage to our hearts and our brains. Of course, if our A1c is over 7.0, we’re faced with a number that makes us feel like we’re not successful. It makes us want to do all that we can to get it under that number. Even though that could possibly mean additional risk of hypoglycemia. That’s a lot to consider.
But wait… there’s more. The closer our numbers are to perfect, the closer we are to bad lows. What do we do when those lows occur? We treat them, with juice or peanut butter sandwiches or cookies or Nutella or whatever works. Or all of those things, plus a couple more. Because above all, hypoglycemia is scary. It’s a near-death experience that shakes our confidence and makes us want to make it go away as quickly as possible. So sometimes we over-treat. Which leads us to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) later on. And pretty soon our glucose management looks like this:
The hyperglycemia? In a word, that’s frustrating. Partly because we’re aware (we’re more than aware) of the complications it might bring years down the road, and partly because we don’t want our hard work go to waste just because we decided to eat something because it would save our life. Hyperglycemia makes us sluggish, tired, thirsty, and again, frustrated. And while we can encounter it after over-treating a low, we can also encounter it due to a bad injection site, bad insulin, or a crazy metabolism that can have us under 100 one day and over 300 the next. While the “eat 15 grams of carbohydrates, wait 15 minutes and check” idea is the standard for treating lows, it can take hours to come down from those highs. It may take the ingestion of copious amounts of water, lots of exercise, trimming our diet, extra insulin, or any and all combinations of the four to bring us back into range. Or back down into hypoglycemia again.
Add to that the fact that we’re more susceptible to infection, more likely to encounter eye and foot problems, under additional risk of heart trouble and stroke, and also facing people in our lives who just don’t understand why these things are true and want to blame us instead of helping us, and you can see why diabetes ain’t no kiddie game.
Yet we go on living our lives, in wondrous and amazing ways. We often have parents and spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends and just friends who help us and give us the strength to know that we’re worth all the trouble. If you’re not living with diabetes and you encounter someone who is, remember that diabetes is a moving target, it’s always, and it’s hard. The best thing you can do is live our lives alongside us, displaying the assets of perseverance and empathy that all people living with diabetes possess. Just ask us… we really are worth it.