Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Who ever thought a single number could hold such weight?
Measured by a simple blood test, the hemoglobin A1c is capable of causing frustration, shame, and disappointment for many. This sneaky number can quickly discount how truly attentive one actually is to their diabetes or the reasons they are where they are.
There is no "perfect" in the world of diabetes. Diabetes requires everything we can give—and then may ask for a little more. There is no vacation from diabetes; it takes up time, finances, emotions, and luggage space (I'd much rather pack another pair of shoes, wouldn't you?).
So, don't judge me or anyone else with diabetes (including yourself) by a single number. Good or bad, there is a story behind it. Thwarted by a week long flu, too much travel, not enough time to exercise, kids sick at home—whatever your story is, I'm sure you have one.
Is your doctor willing to hear the narrative description behind your A1c?
A1c tests remind me of an old adage: "A picture is worth a thousand words." They offer valuable information, but only if we are willing observers, spending time in the details, too.
According to the Joslin Diabetes Center: "The A1c is an important measurement of how effectively you are managing your diabetes." Taken in context this may be accurate. The falsity here is that the full picture isn't revealed through a number at all; how can we simply be reduced to that?
We are the storytellers, and as the people with diabetes, we must be sure we are afforded a listening ear.
Make sure you are heard at the doctor's office by preparing some thoughts beforehand about what your life has been like since your last visit.
Have you had any overly stressful situations to deal with? Maybe you lost a close relative, started a new job, or you're having trouble in an important relationship in your life.
Have you had any illnesses or injuries? Not only do illnesses or injuries prevent you from being as active as you would like, but they also affect your body, sometimes in unpredictable ways.
How has your self-monitoring been going? If you've been struggling day to day, this may impact your overall A1c. Your doctor may have advice on how to even out your daily blood sugar levels and get you back on track. On the other hand, if you've felt like you've been doing your best, express this to your doctor as well.
You are more than your A1c. Make sure your doctor knows this, too.