The Importance of "Checking" Blood Sugars

Let's talk about language and how it is significant in the world of diabetes. The way we communicate with our words matters because language is one of the most precise and powerful ways we can describe things and let others know what is going on inside of us. Let's jump right in with one of my favorites: TESTING VS CHECKING. Just like a test in school that you can pass or fail, "testing" a blood sugar implies that there are good and bad results. For most of us, emotions like nervous, anxious, scared and pressure come to mind when we think about taking a test. With diabetes, the goal is a specific range and the variables to control and consider are many. So if you're "testing" 3-7 times a day and every time you are not in that specific range, you are "failing", you might not want to check as often, or you might lie about your numbers for fear of judgment (from yourself or others). Even when you work hard, make sacrifices and do everything you're supposed to do, you are not necessarily guaranteed to get the "score" you want.

"Checking" on numbers gives you information--nothing more, nothing less. Numbers we "check" help us to problem-solve because judgment is not at the forefront of the picture. I once asked a group of people with T1D how much time they spent thinking about diabetes. Then I asked them to parse out how much of that time was spent thinking about the logistics of maintaining diabetes throughout the day, and how much time was spent beating themselves up for not doing things differently. Most said that the overwhelming majority of time and energy went into the latter category. Upon further discussion we determined that when we are not bogged down by judgments, we are able to be more present with what is happening in the moment. This allows us to be more focused on what we are actually in control of so we can take our next steps without blaming or berating ourselves.

Language is important because if we are not mindful, diabetes can be ripe soil for cultivating judgment and shame. The pressure to be perfect is immense and can come from many different places. There is the self-induced pressure of staying healthy and living a long life, and there is pressure to not let others (doctors, family, friends, etc.) down. They worry, not because they want you to feel bad, but because they care and often feel out of control. That said, managing your health for the sake of others (in addition to doing all the other obligatory life stuff) is still a lot to hold. So if we can take some of the pressure off simply by using different language, at least we can cross one ripening agent off the list.

My point in talking about the significance of language is to illustrate that words are powerful, and there is no need to add any additional judgment or shame to life with diabetes. 

Feel like you could use a little more help in this area? Contact me to set up a time to talk.