Am I Doing Fine, Really?

Two weeks ago, I made a prediction[1]. I said that I guessed my HbA1c[2] at this month’s endocrinologist’s visit would be 6.4%.

This past Tuesday, I had my appointment with the doctor, and as much as I’ve always enjoyed going to see my endocrinologist, if you reread or remember my entry two weeks ago, as well as last week’s entry on "Recognizing the Need to Tweak Thought,"[3] you may be able to predict where I’m going this week.

I wasn’t looking forward to my trip this time around. I arrived at the doctor’s office 15 minutes early and entered into the usual routine: I checked in with the receptionist, dropped my insulin pump[4] into a plastic bag (the pump contains my blood glucose monitor, so I give them the whole thing), and received an ID sticker from the receptionist to put on the specimen jar.

After the always-wonderful experience of peeing in a cup and putting a sealed container of my urine in a two-way cabinet in the wall, I sat in the waiting area and, well…


When the nurse mispronounced my last name, I said it was me and followed her in to the weigh-in, fingerprick, and blood-pressure-checking section of the clinic. My weight, as I could have guessed, has gone up some in the past three months. I’ve gained less than 10 pounds, and while I have a few dozen rationalizations about why — including avoiding the gym, blaming the holidays and weeks of cold cold weather — I can’t use them for much longer.

Besides, if I keep this incremental weight-gain up for a few more years, it won’t be a pretty thing. So, mental note to get back into the spinning mode[5].

My blood pressure was fine, 114/67 mm Hg. And my blood glucose at the time of my visit, 126 mg/dl . Blood glucose, when at the clinic, doesn’t matter; I’m sure they don’t care either, they just don’t want me passing out or going into DKA[6] or something while I’m on the premises.

I was led into Room 5, asked to take off my shoes and socks, and given some kind of foot Kleenex on which to rest my bare feet so that I didn’t have to put them on the floor where, prior to foot-Kleenex implementation, hundreds and hundreds of other people had also rested their bare feet.

And then I waited some more.

Finally, the endocrinologist’s resident (I’m assuming that’s who it was) came in to perform the exam. He asked me how things were going, looked at my blood glucose readings from the pump, asked me about my weight gain of eight pounds, and then looked at my feet, my infusion sites, and so on.

I had to ask him what my HbA1c was, and he told me. He wanted to know if I had any further questions. I said no. He left.

Ten minutes later, he returned, this time with my endocrinologist, who pulled over a chair and picked up a conversation from where we left off three months ago.

I’ve mentioned my endo before, how much I like him, and it was nice to have him in the room to talk to. I asked him many of the questions I didn’t really feel comfortable asking the other doctor, even though he was in the room (that’s a topic for another blog entry, or entries, at some point).

I commented on my HbA1c. Or, rather, I was just about to, when my doctor interrupted me and told me I was doing great. This time of year, people often show an increase in their HbA1c — the holidays, all of that. He also said that even if I had gone up a tenth of a percentage point or two higher on my HbA1c, he wouldn’t have been concerned.

Studies show — and I’m paraphrasing now — that years of tight control[7] and then a sudden jump does not lead to complications the way people might have previously thought. What I’d done for almost two years was bank good blood glucose control, and now I was cashing just a little of it in.

And, of course, it wasn’t a bad HbA1c. I was at 6.9%. Still in the acceptable range.

Yet my HbA1C was higher. My weight had increased. It was hard to discern a pattern in my blood glucose control.

This visit reinforced what I already knew, and the things I’d been avoiding hit home thanks to hard data. I’d veered slightly off my self-management track, and while I don’t need to make major corrections to how I live my life, I will need to shift back into what it was that got me into the good places to begin with.

  1. made a prediction:
  2. HbA1c:
  3. "Recognizing the Need to Tweak Thought,":
  4. insulin pump:
  5. spinning mode:
  6. DKA:
  7. tight control:

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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.)

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