Addicted to Your Self-Management?

I planned on writing today’s blog entry about a program I’ll be volunteering for at the University of Michigan Medical School. It’s called the Family Centered Experience (FCE)—which, by the way, was cofounded and is directed by my endocrinologist, Dr. Arno Kumagai. It’s a wonderful way for medical students to gain an understanding of illness from the patient’s point of view.

There’s a great article about it, “Into the Home, Into the Heart,” that you might check out if you’ve ever felt that your doctor doesn’t understand what you go through with your diabetes. Last week, I attended a reception to kick off the FCE and met Andrew and Megan, first-year med students who’ve been assigned me as their volunteer. You can be sure that I’ll write more about my involvement with FCE in the coming months.

But on to the reason for this post’s title…

Are you addicted to your self-management? Are you obsessed with it? Or maybe you’re too lax and don’t maintain the type of control you’d like. Which is it? I’m far from addicted or obsessed—my interest in journaling and reading and asking questions is first and foremost a desire to understand diabetes and do my best to ensure I remain complication-free. Still, a recent comment on my post “On Keeping a Diabetes Journal” as well as the responses to a survey sent out in last week’s e-mail newsletter by Web Editor Tara Dairman have made me curious about the way others deal with their diabetes. The comment was left by Burbot, and you can it read here by scrolling down.

What I kept returning to was the last sentence in Burbot’s comment: “Develop good habits toward your diabetes and get on with your life.” Did Burbot think I was paying too much attention to diabetes?

What do you think constitutes excessive self-management? I’m sure there is such a thing as overdoing it, but how do you judge another person’s dedication to maintaining tight control as over the top or not? Maybe my description of journaling seemed excessive to Burbot. Am I allowing diabetes too much up-front time in my life because I spend twenty minutes or so every few days writing about my emotions and feelings in relation to the condition? I see my doctors when I’m supposed to. I monitor my blood glucose as many times as my endocrinologist feels I should. And, as I noted in last week’s post, diabetes isn’t keeping me from doing anything I did before I was diagnosed. Still, I get defensive: Sometimes I do pay too much attention, but then a few hours later I may be worrying that I’m not doing enough. Take Monday: I woke up, all was well, and then I read the New York Times article “Looking Past Blood Sugar to Survive with Diabetes.” “I have to do more,” I thought. Soon, however, my worrying passed.

I’ve heard stories and read accounts of people with diabetes who chart absolutely everything: the carbs in the crumbs they scoop off their plate, the calories and fat content of each meal that passes their lips, how much their food weighs, as well as every finger stick and any little bit of exercise and anything—ANYTHING—that might affect their blood glucose. And, because literally anything can affect your blood glucose, we’re talking about a pretty dedicated group of self-management addicts here.

Are they getting on with their lives?

I don’t know how many people are reading this blog, but I have a question for those of you who don’t mind commenting: What are your goals in your diabetes management? Are you an addict? A lapsed tight-controller? Remember that I’m relatively new to the world of diabetes. Truth: I haven’t written down any management goals since I took my first diabetes education class in April. Back then it was to lower my HbA1c to 6.0% by September. Yesterday I had a physical and found out that my HbA1c was, yep, 6.0%. (It was a cause for a small celebration.) What do I shoot for next? I have a feeling that maintaining, or even lowering, my HbA1c beyond 6.0% is going to require the same if not more diligence and dedication than it did to lower it from 14.5% in March. I’m up for the challenge, regardless of what kind of self-management person it makes me!

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.