Thursday, 25 April 2013

I Am Not My Number...

Smiles and sunglasses - Segovia.
I'm sure I'm not the only one out there that 100% dreads getting my hba1c done. In the past, I have found that healthcare professionals only seem to look at the hba1c result, and not your day to day blood sugar readings. When I was diagnosed, my care was based where my Mum and Dad are, obviously, and everything was about numbers. If you're not seeing good numbers, you're doing something wrong. So, my whole life revolved around numbers, and only the good ones. If I was out of range, that wasn't good enough. Looking back, it was horrible, and the way I stressed about these numbers was unhealthy. 

I understand that having a good hba1c is important. For those of you that don't know, the hba1c blood test (more formally known as glycated hemoglobin) measures the average plasma glucose concentration over a period of time, usually about three months. It is important to have this as close to normal as possible to prevent diabetic-related complications in the future. I've found hba1c targets vary from clinic to clinic, and also depend upon your situation (diabetic mums-to-be are aiming for much tighter control, for example.) When my care was in Kent, it was all about the numbers, so as close to 7% (53 in the new measurements, which I'm still not on board with!) However, when I transferred my care to Norwich, everything was different. It wasn't all about numbers. I was seen as an individual, which was new. I was offered advice on how to get rid of those highs and lows I was seeing, and a low hba1c wasn't always seen as a good thing, particularly if the low figure also came with crashing hypos on a frequent basis.

But after being obsessed with numbers for a substantial amount of time, it's hard to snap out of that mindset. Over Christmas last year, I booked an appointment with my DSN for a post-first semester abroad hba1c check and I was so worried about what my number would be. My nurse didn't understand why I was so worried about it! I can't even remember what it was now, but it had definitely gone up since my pre-year abroad test I had done in August. My DSN just looked at me and said "Don't worry about it. You're on year abroad. Enjoy it. Have fun. The real work starts when you return and I can be on your back all the time!" and that was all that was said on the matter. Polar-opposite mindset to that of my DSN and consultant when my care was in Kent. 

My next hba1c check is in July, when I've got my annual review (so eyes, feet, blood, the works.) Yes, I will say here and now that I am nervous about it (and, yes, I know I have months before that appointment) but I'm so used to being defined by my number. Even after almost 2 years under Norwich care, I'm still not used to their attitudes towards it all. However, as nervous as I am about it, I know that I will not be "judged" for it, and I will be given help and advice, and I will work towards a "good" hba1c.  

I am not my number. And you're not your number either. 

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