The Magic Number

Today I had a major lightbulb moment that made me reevaluate my entire perspective on what it means to be successful in terms of controlling blood glucose.

For nearly the past two years I have had this magic A1C[1] number in my mind that I want to get down to and it has been absolutely impossible. No matter how early I prebolus, how many times I check, or how much I exercise, that number has remained out of my grasp. Earlier this evening, a diabetes marketing company did an interview with me to try and get some insight on what people with diabetes are looking for today, and at one point I was asked how I felt about my A1C.

I was honest when I said that it was fine; that it wasn’t the number I have been striving for, but that I was content. After responding, there was a follow-up question that completely caught me off guard. The man asked me what I would do if and when I got to the magic number and why it was so important. I had to take about a minute to sort through my thoughts in order to answer him.

The truth is, I don’t know what I would do. I have this moment of glory envisioned where I expect some sort of special VIP diabetes pass that says “You Did It!” or “You Win At Diabetes!” I’ve been so fixated on just getting to that number, I haven’t put any thought into what comes next. (Maintaining that number for instance.)

I believe that there needs to be a shift in thinking when it comes to how we look at our numbers. It shouldn’t be this sense of success or failure. I hate when I walk out of appointments disappointed in myself for not doing well enough as though I failed an exam. Everyone’s diabetes is different, and while there is a general range that we should strive to keep our sugars within, it’s unnecessary to compare how you’re doing with someone else.

Diabetes isn’t a competition, and we all need to do what is best for our bodies and what gets us to our healthiest. I have to remind myself that while it’s important to constantly work towards improvement, it’s also equally important to remember that my goal shouldn’t be viewed as a finish line but rather as a checkpoint along the way.

Having Type 1 diabetes[2] can be exhausting, and when I sit and think about the fact that I could very well have it for the rest of my life, it’s pretty daunting. For my next appointment with my CDE[3] and endo I’m planning on asking what a realistic range is for me and why, rather than getting a specific number to aim for.

At 18 years old, I’m finally at the point where I understand that “being good” at diabetes isn’t for my parents’, CDE’s, or endo’s approval. I’m accepting the responsibility that I need to take the best control of my diabetes for me. Though this change in perspective hasn’t drastically changed my actual blood glucose levels, it has changed the way I feel about my diabetes when it comes to appointments. A huge pressure has been lifted and rather than feel upset about the numbers, I’m motivated because I want to do what is best for me.

  1. A1C:
  2. Type 1 diabetes:
  3. CDE:

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Maryam Elarbi: Maryam Elarbi is an 18-year-old freshman in college who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. Eight months after her diagnosis, Maryam’s family began attending the “Children With Diabetes” conferences, which changed their entire view on Type 1 and how to cope with it. Over the past eight years, Maryam has been actively involved in advocating for people with Type 1 through these conferences, as well as fund-raising for diabetes research through JDRF’s annual “Walk to Cure Diabetes.” In her spare time, Maryam enjoys reading (especially works by Jane Austen and Kurt Vonnegut), writing, spending time in the beautiful city of Philadelphia, and defeating her brothers in the new “Dance Central 2″ game. (Maryam Elarbi is not a medical professional.)

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