I’m getting my blood drawn on Monday to find out my A1c, just as I’ve done faithfully every three months for over 10 years. I’m not nervous about this one – I’ve been working hard to reign in my control, using my CGM more closely and eating better. I think I’ll have lowered my number by about a half percentage point. It feels good to know that Monday’s appointment is no big deal and in fact, a positive thing.
But I was thinking about my A1c the other day, and reflecting on a time when it wasn’t a positive experience. Although my number has regularly beein in the sixes and low sevens for over 10 years now, there was time in my teenage years where that number was way up at 12 and 13%, meaning my average blood sugar was somewhere in the 400s. I didn’t understand why it was important to keep your A1c in range. All I knew was that I was heading to yet another doctor’s appointment where I’d be chastised, shamed and threatened with complications.
I can remember sitting in my car in the parking lot and filling out my blood glucose log, making up weeks worth of numbers. I’d even use different colored pens so as to vary the entries. I thought I was so smart – really fooling those doctors! But what I forgot was that the A1c would reveal the truth. It didn’t matter how authentic I made my fake logbook. The A1c told the real story: that I almost never tested, that I took random amounts of insulin at random times, that I ate the same cookies and brownies that my friends did, and that I didn’t know how to take care of myself. The number showed that I was a complete and utter mess.
My, how times have changed. I sit here typing wearing an insulin pump and CGM, with an A1c that hasn’t been over 7% in years. I’m not ashamed of having diabetes anymore – in fact it’s one of the first things I reveal about myself now. I’m entrenched in the diabetes community and work in the diabetes world. Diabetes doesn’t control me anymore. And there’s no guilt or shame at my doctor’s office. Only encouragement, partnership, and development.
If you looked back at my full history with diabetes, all 20 years with this disease and charted my A1cs, they would tell the story of my life too. They’d show the best of times and the worst of times. They’d show the times things got really bad at home. They’d show the times I learned how to live better with diabetes. They’d tell that whole story with their peaks and valleys.
The A1c: it always shows the truth.