There once was a dream and a venture
A weekend spent entirely without censure
We called it the Diabetes UnConference
It was filled with d-victories and confidence
The memories of it all we will treasure.
<–I want this again. This makes me want to work for it as hard as I can, because I remember this “me.” I felt good, and I felt healthy. (I know, I’m never truly “wordless,” and in the spirit of full disclosure, this picture has been photo-shopped to remove the person who was standing beside me. Better that one be forgotten.)
It’s been 2 years today since that moment I can’t ever shake. The feelings and emotions are still so fresh. I was on a stretch of road I’ve ridden or driven hundreds of times over the past 20+ years. The drive between where I live currently, and my hometown, around 70 miles away. It was morning, the sun was behind us, shining into the back of the car window. I was in the back seat with my (then) 4 month old daughter, who was snoozing in her car seat, pacifier squeaking and bouncing away like Maggie from The Simpsons. I looked up into the rear view mirror and shared a glance with my husband, who was driving. I nodded that everything was OK, and smiled down at our daughter, relishing in her tiny little life, while looking ahead at the road that was leading us to the hospital in my hometown to see my Dad…where I didn’t know (but really, I did know) that he had already died earlier that morning. In that one moment, I knew: my life had changed, again. Better start dealing with it.
My Dad was so many things….Husband, Father, Grandfather. He was a jokester, a sports-lover, a salesman, and could strike up a conversation with anyone. He was also a Type 2 diabetic, and he had a ton of complications. Some were probably related to diabetes, but many were not.
In thinking of the last 2 years, I can’t help but wonder….is there anything he could have done better to take care of himself that would have given him 2 more years, or more, with us? I don’t want to sound selfish or unkind, but I get a little bitter thinking about all the “what if’s.” What if he had eaten better, what if he had lost weight, what if he had listened to me (and the multitude of doctors) and stopped smoking 30 years earlier….could he have been in our lives for longer? I could have given him so many more hugs, shared so many silly jokes, and asked him so many more questions. He could have seen his grand-daughter grow and flourish.
And then I apply those same concerns to myself as well, wondering….is that cupcake I just ate going to cause a high blood sugar that tacks onto the years of highs and lows that have taken such a toll on my body already? Is each high/low sugar taking away one minute, one hour, one day, one year more that I could have spent with my loved ones? I don’t know, and I really don’t want to think about it that way.
Appropriately, this morning was my 3 month checkup with the endocrinologist. Good news! My overall cholesterol is lower than it’s been in years (with HDL 67, LDL 106), my A1C is 6.4, and all my other blood-work numbers look great. I may not be perfect in my management of my health, but I’m trying. Despite any contradictions from the wizened sage Yoda, I’m trying (and I guess, technically doing things that actually add up to the trying) really hard, and I think that is the most I can ask of myself, or expect from anyone else. I am trying my best to be here and be healthy for as long as possible, and I hope the people who love me can recognize that.
Unless you’ve been living under a diabetes rock (let’s face it, some of us DO crawl under a rock on occasion with regards to diabetes – no judging) you’ve probably already heard of the Strip Safely campaign. But if not, in a nutshell, it’s this: “Blood glucose test strips are at the center of diabetes life. The FDA acknowledges there are inaccurate strips in the marketplace but has no process to remove them. People with diabetes are at risk from inaccurate strips. Let’s change that.” And with regards to the July DSMA Blog Carnival topic: Test strip accuracy is important to me because I want to be here for a long, long time, and my health depends on the accuracy of the tools I use to manage it.
The rising cost of healthcare seems to be moving in lock step with the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. If people with diabetes cannot trust key tools – i.e., test strips used in glucose meters to measure blood sugar levels – we use to help manage our disease and (hopefully) offset potential complications, how can we be expected to keep ourselves as healthy as possible so that we do not further drain our healthcare resources? It only makes sense for insurance companies and others with skin in the game to get involved with this. It’s a win-win for everyone involved if we can STAY HEALTHY. The picture above shows my blood sugar readings from the 2 main meters I use and my Dexcom CGM. While I’m thrilled that they are all within 10 points of each other, I’m not really thrilled at that number, but hey – it’s the common post-breakfast spike I tend to have and it’s already on it’s way down. Whew.
I feel I have the luxury of “trusting” my meters and their test strips to a good extent because I’ve seen my HbA1c numbers reflect what my glucose meter readings have told me over time. But I know at some higher ends of the glucose spectrum, and some lower ends, things can get sketchy with regards to accuracy. And what about all the other people who can’t afford expensive meters and supplies and have to “make do” with potentially sub-standard strips and meters? Like the campaign says: let’s change that.