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How Many Chances I Have to Be Wrong Every Day With Diabetes

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Every time I check my blood sugar I have the opportunity to be wrong – about what I thought the number would be, what range I’d be in, too high, too low. These mistakes are consequences of my every-few-hour analysis and decision-making regarding how much insulin to take for the next meal or correction.

Every single day I have multiple opportunities to be wrong about these decisions, which we know, person with diabetes (PWD) to PWD, are merely guesses.

So when I woke up this morning to a blood sugar of 126 mg/dl, I thought about this and I wondered how does being wrong several times a day, or few days, affect me and my sense of self? Here’s the 126 backstory: last night after a miscalculation of how much insulin I needed for dinner, my blood sugar dropped to 68. I ate a third of a cup of blueberries, after checking with CalorieKing how much frozen blueberries would raise me. But, obviously, I misjudged. (Or my body was doing something I had no clue about). I wanted to get myself up to 100, yet I awoke at 126.

Obviously, I didn’t need as many blueberries as I thought. Ten too many? Five too many? Obviously I should have waited longer after eating them before going to sleep to see how much they raised my blood sugar. I should I have stayed up until 1 a.m. rather than let my jet lag push me into bed at 10:30 p.m. Obviously. Once again I made a mistake.

How does this affect us? Judging ourselves as often making mistakes when we can only guess at insulin dosing? I am fortunate that I know you cannot predict or control blood sugar. I know that even with my CGM insulin dosing is still, and always, an educated guess. I am also fortunate that I can usually move on from my self-criticism quickly and appreciate that I manage my blood sugar as well as I do.

Someone once said to me if you have type 1 diabetes, “You’re either a superhero or a train wreck.” I have known train wrecks. They are not around anymore. Fortunately, most of the people I know today who have type 1 diabetes are superheroes.

Yet that’s not really an apt metaphor and my superhero friends and acquaintances would likely agree. Yes, we have a second job managing our blood sugar and diabetes. Yes, our life-saving medicine, insulin, can kill us if we guess terribly wrong. Yet there’s no way to know for sure each time we dose insulin exactly how much we need. And please don’t even get me started on riding the “roller coaster.”

If you truly understand what type 1 diabetes requires to manage it well, you could see those who do so as superheroes. Yet I know we’re all just doing our best, day in and day out. We rely on the help and support of others when we need it and we roll with the punches knowing insulin dosing is neither science nor art. It is a calculated guess based on mystery, the mystery of what your body is doing at any given moment that is largely hidden from us.

Still, we continue, decision-guessing multiple times a day, day after day, rarely saying anything about it. I imagine, you like me, hear the voice of your self-critic when the number on your meter isn’t what you want or expect. And then you move on to make the next guess, hopefully, forgiving yourself with equal speed. Perhaps that’s really the definition of a diabetes superhero.

This story originally appeared on Diabetes Stories.

Getty photo by kimberrywood

Originally published: March 6, 2019
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