Friday, December 2, 2011

How Can A Number Make Me Feel This Way?

Thank you all for sharing in my joy earlier this week.  I am still so thrilled!

But this post from Kerri yesterday stopped me in my tracks.  If you haven't read it yet, please stop and do so.  The rest of my post will make a lot more sense if you do.

Here I sit, having just gotten my lowest A1c in years.  And reading Kerri's powerful post brought tears to my eyes.  It's not effing fair.  The same blood test.  While I am celebrating, my friend is crying.  Not fair.  Makes me want to punch something.

Because I've been there too.  We all have.  Those A1c results that leave us in tears, stomp all over our self-esteem, and make us question everything we've been doing.  They leave us feeling defeated, wondering, "Why the hell do I even bother?"

And the guilt.  Oh the guilt.  Hello there, old friend who I wish would leave me the eff alone.  What is wrong with me?  Why can't I get my act together.  Other PWDs have amazing A1cs.  If they can do it, why can't I?

photo courtesy of lrargerich
(via flickr creative commons)
How can a number make me feel this way?

I have felt that way.  And if you are a person with diabetes, or the parent of a child with diabetes, you have too.  I'm happy with my A1c right now, but I know that at some point in the future, it will rise again, and those feelings will be back.

But can I tell you something?  Something that some fantastic friends have told me?


The head knows it, but the heart is harder to convince.

My A1c is just a number.  Yes, it is an important number.  Important because it relates to my health.  I need to take care of myself.  And I want all my friends in the DOC to take care of themselves.  But we ALL go through patches where we don't.  Living with diabetes is hard.  Like Cherise was talking about on DSMA Live last night, diabetes can't have all your attention all the time.

But those feelings?  The shame, the guilt--THEY ARE LIES.  Can we do better?  Yes.  But beating ourselves up about the number is not going to aid that endeavor.  An A1c is a number.  It is data to be used to say, "What now?"  Big thanks to Bennet for reminding me about that.

Also, my better is not the same as your better.  I'm thrilled for Brian and his A1c, but I don't think I'll ever see mine there.  I don't want it there.  My diabetes is different than Brian's.  Our A1c goals are not going to be the same.  Your diabetes may vary.

Celebrate if your A1c is where you want it to be.  If it isn't, call out guilt and shame for the liars that they are.  And read this post from Melissa.

You can do this.  One day at a time.


  1. Beautiful post, Jess. (And thank you for pointing us to Melissa's post - I missed that one, and it's fantastic too!)

  2. Fantastic post, Jess!

    My lowest was 5.8 once, but that number was generated by daily swings from 40 to 350. That is not control, tho that one number would seem to indicated that I had excellent control.

    It's just one number, basically an average, that we see 3 or 4 times a year. And yet it can have such an impact on us if we let it.

  3. You are welcome. It is a privilege to be part of a caring community where I can be helpful. Thanks for letting me be there with a few words when you needed them.


  4. At a FFL session a few years ago, that quote from Bennet was shared by the speaker - not why, but what now? I wrote about it on Diabetes Daily, and I think it is one of my most commented on posts there. It seems like an issues we all struggle with (

    I can sit there feeling guilty about the numbers (I often do) or I can do something about it (I sometimes do).

    Thanks friend for writing this!

  5. Great post, Jess. You're right: the community's results have a huge influence on us, even as we're dealing with our own. I'm happy for you and your result. And it helps me realize that I can do it. I know I can, as I've been down to 6.1 in the past, but it's just been tough lately to get back on track. Thanks for offering some inspiration and motivation to avoid putting off what needs to be done.

  6. Pretty much, after reading your, kerri, and Melissa's posts, I've figured out why I've been so absent lately. When I posted my last a1c of 8.4, I got a lot of "its only a number" which helped... But also, reading celebratory posts makes me feel guilty. Like I'm failing, and I can't possibly have anything constructive to say to the Doc... So I stopped writing. I guess what I'm trying to say is thanks for posting this, to all of you. I needed it.

  7. I genuinely appreciate this type of transparency.

    I think achieving an A1c in the 5's without lows is a major victory.

    But do know what?

    I think it's equally victorious to move from 10 to 9 or 8 to 7 or whatever.

    I think it's victorious to acknowledge when there's a problem and work to make improvements.

    I think it's victorious when you can look in the mirror and be proud of the person you see, regardless of the number on the meter.

    Life is about so much more than that number.