What's in a number? With diabetes, so much and in so many ways, nothing at all. At times I feel like I'm drowning in numbers, blood sugar readings, insulin dosages, carb ratios, A1c's. I'm swimming in numbers to the point that on some levels I'm numb to them. I'm really commited to my diabetes care but at the same time so buffeted by the sheer volume of numbers I have to navigate to take care of myself, that they can start to loose meaning to me. More accurately actually, they start to loose their impact. I notice them and I react, but it's pretty rare that they actually stop me in my tracks anymore. And on the whole, that's probably the healthiest way to be. I can't imagine reacting strongly to every low or high, every numerical detail I have to deal with in living with diabetes.
Which isn't to say that once in a while a number doesn't catch me off guard or send me for a loop now and again. Yesterday was one of those times. I went to my quarterly check up with my doctor, downloaded my meter, weighed myself on the scale and pricked my finger for my latest A1c. Then on to the examination room to discuss with him how the last few months had been. "Good", I say, all upbeat and positive. "I feel better about my diabetes than I've felt in ages". I mean better emotionally of course, happier and more at peace with all that diabetes brings to my life. He says he's glad about that, starts to check my feet, update some records on the computer while we talk. And then he let's me know my A1c number. It's higher than usual. Still good, but much higher than I like it to be. My poor doctor was almost reticent to tell me the A1c results because he knows how seriously I take my diabetes control and he more importantly, knows I'll be bummed by the jump in the number. He also knows, probably better than anyone, that this number is only a moment in time. I know it too. I know it in my head at least, but for some reason, this time, I also seem to take in stride emotionally. I was unruffled and composed. We're both a little surprised by my reaction actually. We discuss why my A1c might be the number it is, adjust my basal rates at 2AM and 5AM and out I go.
I make it all the way to my car, pull the keys out of my purse and am about ready to turn on the igniton when, bam, I start to cry suddenly and hard. The tears, the exasperation, the disappointment, the guilt, the frustration, all come streaming out at once. In my head I know it's just a number, just a moment in time. This A1c is one of thousands of numbers before it and one of thousands to come. But it's not my head at work here now. It's my heart. It's the deep grief and fatigue I carry around because of never, ever, ever being done with this dance with diabetes. Less about the actual number, the hot tears that came so suddenly were about working so hard to do it right and yet again, knowing that I hadn't.
Today is better. Today I woke up with a far better blood sugar, thanks to the adjustments we made on my night time doses. Isn't it funny, but today I feel better because of a number. A fleeting, moment in time number. It makes me smile at how silly that is and yet I understand it too. I'm working at letting these individual numbers mean less to my overall mood. I'm working at it and probably getting better at it too. I guess I'll never quite find the perfect balance between caring enough, and not so much that it ruins (or makes, for that matter) my day. But I'll keep trying.
(The video above is by one of my favorite artists feist who's song, 1-2-3-4 is a playful, fun celebration of numbers. Apropos of nothing, but somehow perfect for this post. Enjoy!)