What's in a number?

This weekend I went to the Behavioral Diabetes Institute’s conference for health care providers entitled “Promoting Behavior Change in Diabetes”. It was fantastic. There were so many important topics discussed but the one I’ll bring up now is the idea that blood sugars are not “good” or “bad”. As we attempt to take the shame and blame out of diabetes, we are seeing that viewing these numbers as information upon which to act is simply a more effective way of managing diabetes. For many people with diabetes, the emotional burden and guilt around “testing” blood sugars is debilitating because it is easy to intertwine self worth with those numbers. Therefore when these numbers are “bad”, we are bad. We are taught early on that so much is riding on these numbers! Doctors, parents and loved ones are constantly asking about them—and it’s good that they want to know. They care! But being “tested” 6-7 times per day and having that result mean you are a “good” or “bad” person—that if you are outside of a certain range, you are failing, well, who is eager to hear that? No wonder kids lie about these things to their parents. I still don’t always feel comfortable showing my number to everyone at the table because I know I might get jumped on and sometimes I don’t feel like explaining the back story (which I can’t even figure out sometimes! I ate the exact same thing yesterday and I’m up 100 points?! Agh! Why?!)

So what can we do? Let’s use the word “check” instead of “test” when it comes to blood sugars. Let’s see it as information—nothing more, nothing less. Say it with me: “I am not my number.” Second, let’s separate out who we are from our disease. It’s a part of us, for sure, but there’s a lot of other really cool stuff about us that can be easy to forget. (For example, I am a huge fan of cats.)  Chronic illness can be incredibly difficult—both physically and emotionally, and sometimes we need someone to help us remember and strengthen who we are apart from our disease. I help people rediscover hope. Call me at 206-858-0247.