Monday, April 9, 2012

Carrying On

Today's Prompt: Keep calm and carry on. Write (and create) your own Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Can you make it about your condition? Then go to ( and actually make an image to post to your blog.

This may not seem particularly revelatory to those of you without diabetes.

I mean, of course that's what you do, right?

If I had diabetes, I'd test my blood sugar and follow my doctor's treatment advice. It's not really very challenging. You just don't take good care of yourself. I'm sure dieting and exercising would be the harder part - you know, making lifestyle choices. But even then, it's the lazy people who'd struggle with it, I bet. I could do it. How hard can it be?

Yeah, you could do it. We make a big deal in our community about letting people know that, yes, You Can Do This.

But you'd also quickly discover the emotional weight of a number.

The judgment from a tiny glucose meter.

The flash of digits markedly different than what you expected when you applied that drop of blood.

The not-so-sly sideways glance from your family member or coworker as the number pops up.

The self-hatred and despair when you know it means you failed.

You miscounted that sandwich, you didn't dial back your dosage enough while you were working out, you didn't notice your infusion set fell out, you didn't realize your batteries were dead, you drank that caramel latte on the way home, you didn't realize you were coming down with something.

You failed.

I've counseled people with diabetes - and perhaps more importantly their immediate family members and/or caretakers - to try to treat the number as nothing more than data.

Every well-meaning loved one from parent to spouse to health care practitioner has looked at a number and asked, "What did you do? Why are you high? What made you go low?"

There are two problems with that line of questioning. First, when we're struggling with feeling sick from that number, it is not the moment to grill us over how we got here. Secondly, it's not our fault that our pancreases are busted. Ease up.

Imagine removing that guilt. Just treating the number. Perhaps a 230 means I take a correction. A 65 means I have a snack. A 400 means I change out my pump site and take an injection. A 190 means I might go for a walk before dinner. A 45 means I down some quick glucose.

Our logbooks could look less like report cards and more like...logbooks.

It's just a number. It carries power only if you let it.

Carry on.


  1. At Friends for Life a few years ago I was in a session where the presenter suggested that parents needed to stop asking "why" (at least SO much) but instead as "what now". I like it. Focusing on the guilt doesn't do us any good. Treat it and keep moving!

  2. "The not-so-sly sideways glance from your family member or coworker as the number pops up" UGH! I have started to hid my meter when I test or put my hand over the numbers as they pop up :-) Doesn't help much. Mom still says "WHAT IS IT!!!"

  3. This is so perfect - you really hit the nail on the head about how it's hard to often see it as just a number.