Diabetes Health Type 1: How Do I Answer That?
By Meagan Esler
Sometimes a person close to me asks about my blood sugars. The question is usually something like “How have your sugars been. Are you keeping level”? I always hesitate before answering because, even after 21 years of life with Type 1 diabetes, I’m not quite sure how to answer that question. Sometimes I stammer out “Good, things are pretty good”, and then I feel bad because that is kind of a lie. It’s not an intentional lie. It’s just that things aren’t ever simply “good”. My version of good might be vastly different than what they think is good. There could have been a 300 blood sugar a few days before due to the sniffles causing me to run high for a bit, or from a miscalculated carb count, or stress, or even hormones. An intense workout could have caused a series of low blood sugars as my insulin sensitivity improves. Diabetes tosses obstacles in our path on a daily basis. It’s not just about food or exercise; it’s about everything. There is just no perfect answer to that question.
I’ve gotten more aggressive. Not with people, but with my diabetes. I dread the feeling of high blood sugars and low blood sugars but they happen no matter how hard I try. Sometimes I find myself wondering what’s wrong with me. Why do I have such a hard time with controlling my blood sugars? I am working hard to keep things as stable as possible, but as a person with diabetes, it sometimes seems the word stable is kind of a joke.
I think we all feel overwhelmed with diabetes at times in our life. It’s so frustrating to be constantly counteracting highs and lows. I do think a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and an insulin pump could help me manage things a little better than my daily insulin syringe injections, but nothing takes away the hard work and frequent modifications that life with diabetes demands.
So my aggressive behavior with my diabetes management is to try to think ahead as much as I can. To try to make it through my meals and snacks each day with as few spikes and lows as possible. I feel like a mad scientist, watching the same meals cause different blood sugars on different days. There’s not much rhyme or reason to diabetes, but I’ve learned a lot about what helps my blood sugars and what hurts them. I might not be perfectly level, but I’d call any step in the right direction a victory.
I know the questions about my blood sugar levels are meant with love and caring. I appreciate that they want to know how I’m doing. I think the answer I’ll give next time is “I’m trying. Diabetes management is forever a work in progress”. That is the absolute truth. I am trying, and I’ll keep trying. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to quell their worries about me by saying “Perfect, my levels are perfect!”, though I know that is what they long to hear. There are good days and bad days with diabetes. We do the best we can given the tools we have.