A Game of NumbersTuesday, March 03, 2015
Diabetes is a game of numbers. If I wake up with a high blood sugar, it is not a simple question of taking insulin to reduce the high blood sugar. I have to look at my glucose monitor to see if this was a consistent high or if my blood sugar peaked in the early hours of the morning. I have to ask myself how does this high blood sugar level correspond with my last Lantus injection, or was this high a mere result of the snack I had before I went to bed?
While I should take careful note of these patterns so that I can adjust my levels accordingly, sometimes there are just too many factors at play, and I just don’t have the time to analyze why my blood sugar went to 50 after taking insulin. It is much more simple to chug some lemonade or chew on those unappetizing glucose tabs and get on with my day.
Although I do not suggest dealing with each blood sugar as they come, this is the reality that diabetics face when dealing with a disease that challenges us each and every day. I have adjusted my Lantus dosage, carb ratio, changed my workout schedule, tried new technologies, and even tried new medication to make my body less insulin resistant. Even with the constant nitpicking and adjustments, I can wake up with a blood sugar of 200 and have to combat the highs and lows of the day that seem at times to be inevitable.
The problem that I have as a diabetic and as a person is my lack of patience. When I see my blood sugar is 250 and rising, I immediately take four units of insulin. After fifteen minutes of no change, I immediately assume that the dosage is not working and I take an additional four units. I know that I am not doing myself any favors and I will have to adjust a blood sugar again because I over-corrected.
When my blood sugar is fifty five at three in the morning, the last thing I want to do is take exactly x amount of carbohydrates and wait a half hour to ensure that my blood sugar is returning to a relatively normal range. I want to drink some juice, eat some glucose tabs, and go back to sleep. The shaky feeling that diabetics experience when going low clouds our judgment as to how much sugar we really need to bring up a blood sugar level. I personally drink or eat whatever is in sight once I start to feel weak; although I am also telling myself to slow down.
After my eighth visit to my provider and being told that I need to be more patient, I decided maybe these doctors were onto something and I actually needed to heed their advice. Because of my continuous glucose monitor, they could see that my A1C was normal because of the average between the highs and lows I was experiencing. My A1C was not a reflection of my actual blood sugar, and I was not fooling anyone anymore. This is one of the reasons that technology and I have a love/hate relationship. You cannot hide the numbers.
While I was always an opponent of using a pump or any other form of technology that attached to my body, I have found that the continuous glucose monitor is not the enemy. Rather, this device has helped me take time to let my blood sugars go up and down instead of jumping the gun and over-correcting. There is quite a difference between a 180 blood sugar that is remaining constant and a 180 blood sugar that is falling. I can go to the gym knowing that my blood sugar is 150 and remaining at the level rather than 150 and going towards 90.
For someone who was so opposed to attaching medical contraptions to my body, I really have become quite the advocate for the continuous blood glucose monitor. Sure, there have been a few times when I wake up at 200 at three in the morning and turn off the alarm for high blood sugars. However, when the alarm goes off warning me that my blood sugar is rapidly falling, I am grateful for that device. I would like to think that I would wake up when my blood sugar goes low, but this way, I don’t have to worry. Diabetes is in fact a numbers game, but the technological advances like the glucose monitor and insulin pump make it that much easier to manage.