January 28, 2009

The Failure-Success Barometer

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I find it so hard to not judge my success by the numbers on my meter and now my CGM graphs. Logically, I know it’s the effort that counts. If I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing and making an honest effort, I’m probably going to have pretty good results a fair percentage of the time. The other percentage of the time when I’m not getting the results I’m aiming for, as long as I’m trying, it’s likely just diabetes being diabetes – sometimes you wake up at 350, or you spend a day battling just to get under the 200 mark, or you drink glasses of juice and eat peanut butter crackers until you could choke but your BG hovers at 60 for half a day. I take it personally though, as if the numbers I get are an accurate reflection of my effort and investment toward managing my diabetes well. Even though I shouldn’t allow those readings to inform my mood and my sense of competency and efficacy, I do.

I think most of us who had this as children likely grew up experiencing this. For me, it feels like just one piece of ‘betes baggage I’ve been hauling around for what feels like an eternity – this stuff gets heavy and cumbersome, doesn’t it? Back then, few doctors paid attention to the psychology of diabetes so few encouraged parents to not react to the numbers, to not accuse and blame their diabetic children. “What on earth did you have to eat at that slumber party?” “Didn’t you eat a snack like you were supposed to?” Not only did most doctors overlook advising parents of effectively encouraging diabetic children, but doctors themselves seemed completely oblivious to the impact of their own words. “You shouldn’t be having so many highs… you’ve got to do better!” “Look at these dinnertime numbers! What are you eating at school during the day?” “I see you haven’t been logging…*tsk tsk*.”

Never thought I\'d see this again

Never thought I'd see this again

Most of this month and last, I’ve really been fighting my depression. I know the weather hasn’t helped because I hate the cold so I don’t go out if I can help it, and I pine for the days of late sunsets. The hours of daylight and the temperature on the thermometer haven’t been the only numbers affecting my state of mind though. I don’t know how much wonky BG’s have a true physiological effect on mood, but at least some of my bad mood has been from feeling angry, frustrated, and incompetent at not being able to make the proper adjustments to level out the wide swings.

Today, I’m relishing the beauty of a nice even line on my CGM. I used to get lines like this a few times a month, but lately I’d been feeling like I’d never see another one again. What I truly love are the straight lines, and this one isn’t quite there, but it’s close – far closer than the other roller-coaster lines I’ve nervously watched develop recently. Obviously, I feel good about it, and I’m happy. Seriously, wouldn’t any of us be delighted to have consistently hovered between 70 and 120 for 24 hours? I mean, I even ate ravioli, and yes, it was Lean Cuisine, and they are surprisingly delicious! Then I washed the ravioli down with a brownie! If it weren’t for all the awful numbers I’ve had recently, I’d say I don’t even deserve to have such a magically normal graph after lunching like that. So is it possible to feel the delight of maintaining non-diabetic numbers, but not feel the defeat of highs that won’t come down or nauseating roller-coaster rides at the BG Amusement Park of Hell? Or if you manage to not feel defeated, does that mean you also divorce yourself from feeling any sense of achievement for being in-range? Even though I make a conscious effort to not qualify the numbers as good or bad when I speak or write about them, will I ever be able to separate the good and bad feelings that accompany the meter numbers? Has anyone figured out how to detach themselves emotionally from their BG readings? If I could do that, then I’d definitely feel like a success.

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6 Responses to “The Failure-Success Barometer”

  1. Kelly L says:

    Its “good” to know I’m not the only one that takes all numbers personally. I’m with you on trying to detach from blood sugars.Is that really possible? I know some people (usually parents of Type 1 kids) say they are able to do so, but I still dont believe them! ((HUGS)) I can’t wait until the weather changes either!

  2. You know, the only damn people that talk about detaching from the numbers that I’ve ever heard are not diabetic! Hmmmm….

    I’m just sayin’!

  3. Val says:

    I have to say I have a really hard time detaching from numbers, and I started dealing with this in my thirties. Like yesterday I had a scone with cream and jam (hey, it was my birthday) and stayed below 140 all morning. Blew it later though when a combo of birthday cake meets bad site meant I spent the whole night at 300 despite multiple corrections. And of course my endo appt is tomorrow : P

    I know I should look at yesterday more as the BG fairies happened to work correctly until dinner, then decided to take the night off, but to tell the truth it still seems like the thrill of victory followed by the agony of defeat. Maybe the only way to separate ourselves from the numbers would be when they have magic strips that measure every hormone level, and predict the future.

    Too bad my air bubble trick didn’t work for you yesterday. A lot of times unhooking from the cartridge lets in a wicked air bubble on its own…. Hope it works better when/if you need to do it again.

    Scott, I agree – I’ve never talked to a PWD or parent who really views numbers as just… numbers.

  4. Karen says:

    Oh yes, I look at bad BG days as a personal defeat. I wonder what I did to screw it up s badly. I feel that if I’m a failure at my blood sugar, I’m going to be a failure at everything else in life. It sounds really stupid now, but on a bad BG day it makes perfect sense.

  5. Leslie says:

    I hear ya! 3 days ago I couldn’t get above a 60 all day. 2 days ago I couldn’t get below 150 all day & that was with taking shots in addition to my pump. Now it’s even harder to deal with the numbers as just numbers. At 5 months pregnant I worry that the 200 rebound I had after a low is permanently damaging my child. I feel so guilty. My husband is wonderful and tells me not to worry and I’m doing my best to try to control the uncontrollable diabetes monster. Sometimes he understands that it’s a roller-coaster better than i do. So I just do my best and know that’s all I can do. I’m hoping to get a CGMS soon to be able to see when I’m trending up or down to take care of things faster. Fortunately lately I’ve figured out exactly what to eat for a low without a huge rebound like I was getting before – but who knows how long this will last – I’m sure the next set of wonky hormones (or insulin resistance) to set in will change all the rules again.

    I can’t wait until July – bagels and beer, here I come!! and if I’m high for a day – so be it ;)

  6. [...] the worst of it is probably the judgment that we bring down on ourselves.  As my blogger friend Lee Ann Thill puts it, the continuous attempt to achieve “non-diabetic” BG numbers can feel like a [...]

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