Tuesday 14 September 2010

Compromise? If I must.

There are many things I have had to accept as a diabetic.

I have had to accept that until there is a cure, I will need to inject or wear an insulin pump to help me control my blood sugar levels. I have had to accept that blood testing, insulin pumps, injections and carb counting are going to have to be part of my daily routine, if I am to conquer this challenge. I have had to accept that no matter how small a part of me I once wished it would be, diabetes is a big part of my life, and indeed of who I am.

But there is one aspect of diabetes I have always struggled with: Food.

In truth I have never been the kind of person who takes instruction easily. In fact, if dictionary entries had faces of people who are a 'good example' next to them, I would no doubt be picked for several; stubborn, argumentative, opinionated and always right(!) spring to mind. And I'm sure my friends and family would most definitely be those who vote me in! If I could successfully argue that red was not red, I would give it a damned good try. The truth is I hate boxes. Not the kind my cats hide in, using them as some sort of feline fortress from which to attack passers by, but the kind that are often referred to as pigeon holes. You are this, you are that. You are diabetic.

But the fact is, while I always knew that I had to inject and had to carry out blood tests, food has always been the thorn in my side - because I love it. I have never felt hard done by when it comes to injecting. I have never felt as though blood tests were hard or unfair. They were just 'there'. Something which I show a bit of contempt for, each and every time my skin is pierced in the interest of the condition, but which don't really detract anything from my life. It is the only way I know.

But when it comes to food, and having to accept that sometimes you just have to say 'no', I have always swum against the current.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say to me, "are you allowed that?" I am not a violent person, but now and then some bright spark has caught me at a bad moment, and in the midst of my annoyance, which was being subdued somewhat by the fact that I was indulging in a much needed treat, I could have clean taken them straight off this planet!

But yesterday morning I had the final installment of my insulin pump trial assessment, with my wonderful but long-suffering DSN (Diabetes Specialist Nurse). I have been attending these sessions on a monthly basis since January, in order to review my success with the insulin pump. Something us Brits have to do if we want to successfully make the move onto the pump.

At the beginning of the trial, I had to work with the specialist team to set myself the targets I wanted to achieve by the end of the trial. Now some of these were personal targets, primarily set as a way of taking some emotional control over my diabetes. But some were physiological targets, such as lower my A1c and have less than one BS of more than 20mmol per month.

I have now successfully achieved 4 of my 5 targets. Excellent!

The problem is, that last little blighter always gets the better of me. It is always JUST out of reach. I have managed to lower the frequency of BS levels in the 20s by about 60%, which incidentally I am very proud of. But, on a monthly basis, there are always 2 or 3 which fall on exactly 20. No higher, but high enough.

Well, I tracked them back this month, and much to my horror (mainly because I had to accept that I was wrong - I know, can you believe it?), they were ALL on days when I had eaten something 'I shouldn't'. I'm loathed to say it, mainly because I want to prove all the judgmental onlookers who dare to ask me that question wrong, but I guess there are times when I really shouldn't have that.

Don't get me wrong, by no means am I planning on never having a treat again, and I certainly don't plan on allowing this revelation to change who I am. I will still argue that red is not red. I will still stand firm when I am asked what I think. I am still Anna.

But the fact is, if I wanted to get those sugars well and truly conquered, I think I now see that it isn't the end of the world if now and then, I let the diabetes win, and just say no.

I need to learn that treats are fine, but I have to experiment only now and then, so that I can find out exactly what and when I need to bolus, without sabotaging my monthly targets.

I guess you learn something new everyday.

I guess I can't win 'em all.

I guess it'll make the next time even sweeter - no pun intended!

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