Season 1 Episode 3
Welcome to the Diabetes Goddess podcast and I’m your host Barb Wagstaff. This podcast focuses on the fact that you’re more than your carb to insulin ratios or your time in range. Your diabetes may vary. Please remember that, while I’ve played a doctor in real life for years, I’m not a medical professional and any opinions expressed on this podcast do not replace medical advice. Please remember to always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes care.
Barb Wagstaff…Today I wanted to share a little bit about your A1C. Nerves around A1c, and that good old A1C report card! So, what I’m about to share is some insights that I had in a conversation that I had with my son recently that I thought might be something that’s relevant to some of you. Something that you can possibly kind of–resonate with you. Because, A1c, your good, old diabetes report card! Stress. Excitement. I don’t know that anybody really gets excited about it, but some people do anticipate seeing what they hope to be some great results. So, here’s our thoughts, my thoughts, on A1c after recent conversation with my son.
1:32…I wanted to talk to you a little bit about A1C. Recently my son finally got his A1C done. It was a process. I don’t know if a lot of you are like him. but he does absolutely everything to avoid having blood work. People say. “Oh well, you know, he gets poked and prodded all the time. And he gets blood tests, checks his blood on his finger everyday, so really, what’s the big deal? What’s one more needle?” And, in his words, one more needle is just one too many! He detests it. Even when he was small it was crazy to try and get him to have blood work. Like, I almost wanted to medicate him! It sounds horrible, but he would stress himself out so much. And he used to joke that, you know, when he got older, his older brother was going to have to take him to go get blood work because he was going to have to have somebody else go with him. He just was not going to handle doing this on his own! So he has reached a point where he absolutely had to get blood work done. There was no messing about any longer. It had to be done. It had to be done for medical. It had to be done to get his new insulin pump. Like, no more messing about. So, as time went on, I waited for him to book his appointment. He didn’t book his appointment. And then he had to have his medical submitted by a very specific time. And he needed to get his blood work. So mom to the rescue. Mom was able to find a private collection service. A woman who kindly, would go into someone’s house and do his blood work for him. The downside is, is that she only went to a certain community and we didn’t know anybody in that community. But diabetes online community to the rescue!
3:27…I am so grateful. A mom in another town heard about our plight and our plea to have—borrow someone’s kitchen. I mean it’s just it’s kind of silly, but we just literally need a space where he could sit down for five minutes and this nurse would come in. Take his blood. Everything would be fine. So this very kind woman, allowed my son, a complete and total stranger, into her house and allowed another complete and total stranger to come in and extract his blood. So he now has the blood work done and he’ll wait to get his results from his A1C. And afterwards we had a bit of a conversation about it. And he said, “Mom like I don’t want to my A1c done and besides when I get my A1c done the results are gonna be bad.” And I kinda stopped and said “Well what do you mean by bad?” “Oh it’s just, it’s just, it’s not gonna be good. My A1C is gonna be horrible. My blood sugars have been all over the place lately. Look at just yesterday, I was high and then I was low, then I was high, and then I was low! My blood sugars are everywhere. My A1c is just going to suck.” So I tried to kind of calm him down a little bit. And say, like, “that that’s OK.” because as mom, personally, I’ve prepared for this. My son is now in his 20s. I spent all of his childhood keeping his A1c in a very good range. But very strategically because I knew that there was going to come a time when he would have to deal with his diabetes on his own. And every person that I spoke with, everything that I read, said that at one point he would be fed up with it all. He would throw in the towel and when mom wasn’t looking–diabetes his care would be the least of his concerns. And I was lucky, he, he kept himself in relatively decent control. Thankfully he stayed out of the hospital.
5:29…There was never any major medical emergencies, knock on wood. Because I mean that could happen to anyone, at anytime. It doesn’t matter how diligent you are, but we’ve, we’ve lucked out. We’ve been very fortunate and he’s been fortunate that he’s he’s been able to…he still checks himself and he still knows what his insulin ratios are. And he’s somewhat diligent, but not overly diligent. So either way he felt that his A1C is going to be bad. But I was prepared for bad and I’m also…I tried to remind him that it’s just a number. It’s a spot that we go from. I always like the analogy that it’s just a compass reading. It just gives you direction.
He had a doctor when he was in his teens who said, “I don’t care what your A1C is. I just want you to learn.” and I thought that was brilliant. Now don’t get me wrong! As a mom of this teen, I’m having a stroke because of course that’s his reasoning for every blood sugar that’s missed and, and everything that’s not corrected. It is because, “Oh well it doesn’t matter. This doctor said that I can be high and my A1C really doesn’t matter!” That wasn’t quite the doctor’s point, but, he did want him to know that he to learn. And that things were always going to be perfect. Unfortunately a lot of doctors instead seem to judge people. Judge a person with diabetes that, “Oh well you were really bad pancreas that month. What were you doing? How did you manage to do this is?”
7:14…Its that thing about words isn’t it? It’s not that they’re asking. It’s how they’re asking. it’s making you feel like you are being judged. Making you feel like you’re sitting in the principal’s office and you’ve just got failing grades. We don’t want it to be that way. We want you to understand that it’s a compass. It’s something to work forward from. It’s a tool to work with your diabetes team, hopefully, to make those changes. To go forward as a team, or maybe…I mean face it, not everybody has a great team. Not everybody even has a team. My son is again, sick and tired of a team. He had a fabulous team when he lived near me. He was lucky…He, again luck right? But he preferred a team, in this case he had nurse who happened to live with diabetes. She totally got him and he loved that. That was like probably the one time in his life that he was totally OK with going to see someone. Because he didn’t like going to clinics. He lives in a small town and the clinic that he would often go to–they were basically dealing with people that had type 2 diabetes. They were dealing with elderly people. They weren’t used to dealing with young adults with diabetes. They really didn’t have a lot of hands-on experience with young adults with diabetes. So he found that very stressful, very frustrating. He basically knew more than they did. It sounds odd and a bit condescending, but obviously being my son, who was taken to diabetes conferences throughout North America, and we’ve been blessed to be friends with some of the amazing people in the diabetes community. So, we’ve had lots of tips and lots of help along the way. And he’s slowly absorbed some of that great information. It’s not like he’s actually applied all that information. I’m sure that’s why he was probably a little concerned about his A1C, but he does have that knowledge. So to be able to take advice, in his mind, from people who don’t have that same knowledge, I think creates a bit of a challenge. But that is where you also have to create your own team. If you are unfortunate and you don’t have the best diabetes care team. Maybe you don’t click with the nurse, or perhaps they just don’t understand your situation. I think there’s kind of two ways that you can go with that. First off, ideally is going find a team that that works for you. Unfortunately, in North America, and here in Canada in particular, we don’t really have that luxury of going to pick and choose your team. We have such a shortage of people in the healthcare profession that we don’t always get that choice.
10:29…So that leads me to option #2, where you take as much of their information as you can. And you appreciate it. And then you go and you educate yourself. You go and look on the Diabetes Advocacy website. You go and check out the JDRF site. You look at people like Gary Scheiner and maybe read his books or set up a consultation with him. Or one of the other, there’s so many fabulous resources and people out there. You listen to the Juicebox podcast. He has absolutely fabulous tips. There’s all sorts of places that you can go and you can learn and empower yourself. And that’s really what I hope that the Diabetes Goddess podcast is going to offer to you is an ability to empower yourself. Because that’s, that’s my big thing. That’s the thing I think is most important for anyone in any situation–is to feel strong enough in yourself to be able to go forward with your team and say, “Hey I think that this insulin pump is the right one for me. I think that an insulin pump isn’t right for me! I think I would do much better on injections, but I want multiple daily injections. And I want to try…” Maybe you want to try Fiasp. Maybe you want to try a different background insulin. But you know why you want to try it, and you’re strong and you’re confident that maybe, this is why this fits for me. Because, as we all know, your diabetes may vary. Everyone is different. So, you take your A1C, as my son will when he gets his, and it becomes a direction. It becomes the tool that you use to navigate through the next three months because, remember this was only just three months.
12:20…Maybe you were like him you had some highs. You had some lows. You had stress. You had different things going on. He was working in the construction industry, so he was outside. He had extreme heat at times which would probably mess with his insulin that was sitting in his pump. He would be exercising and then he’d have rain days where he would do nothing. So, all of these things have an impact, but it’s learning from them. Its taking the information from your A1C–maybe you had a few too many highs. Maybe you over treated some lows. Who knows! Maybe you were just sick and you really couldn’t deal with any of it. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from it. Learn what you need to do next. Learn what steps to take next and then be kind to yourself. His diabetes happens. Like diabetes crap days. You know, they happen. And it’s stressful. And I’ve been there on that roller coaster. I don’t have to experience the highs and the lows, but the stress of just “Oh my gosh!!”
I used to just… my heart would break for my son’s body. I would feel guilty that I had done this to his body. I was allowing those highs. I have a friend who used to say that every time her child was high that she would just imagine that she was causing blindness, amputation, some sort of complication down the road! And it just killed her. So we have this guilt we have this stress around those highs and those lows.
14:11…We have to learn to step away from them. Take a break. Regroup and find a way to go forward with the knowledge and the power that we do know our bodies. We do know what’s right for ourselves, our children, our loved ones. We have gone out and sought the knowledge. We’re not just going by…oh well you know, this old cinnamon cure– that that’s going to work for you. And maybe it does. You know maybe there are certain parts of… you know, “when I add cinnamon to my breakfast my blood sugar levels don’t spike as much… When I go for that walk after supper, my A1C gets lowered.” People are doing some of these things and it is working for them because their diabetes is different from the person beside them. And learning is your best way forward! Take the information you get from your A1C and go forward. He’s going to take the information he gets from his A1C, maybe we’ll tweak a few things. And hopefully will use it to get his new insulin pump and get that sorted out! And he’s going to have a whole new set of information from his new pump that I hope will help him… and new options and features on that pump that I hope will help him. But, he’s a young adult with type one diabetes. He will find his own way. He will pick and choose which features he wants to use, which features he doesn’t. He’s also a young man who likes to be physically fit and likes to workout and likes to spend time at the gym, so he will probably use a few more of those features. And he will start to tweak things to make them right for him so that he can bulk up. He can build up muscle mass, that he can do… again what is right for him.
16:11… So my take away from your A1C? It’s a navigational tool. It’s not your letter grade. It is not a pass or fail. It’s a point to move forward. Look back and see where you’ve been, and, and see you know, yep there were some rocky roads. What did you do? How did you handle it? Is there a way you could have handled it better? Maybe. Maybe not. And it’s OK that maybe there wasn’t. Maybe you had a perfect A1c. Fabulous! Celebrate it! Hello, Hallelujah! Yes celebrate. Be so proud of yourself! Look back and go, “OK this is what I did right! I nailed it!” and try and carry that forward and again. If it wasn’t perfect, that’s OK you’ve got another three months and you’re working on yourself. And the fact that you even care that means a lot!
I hope that today’s show has helped you in some way. Maybe it provided you with a tip, something to think on, or just simply made you feel a little less isolated in the world of diabetes. Please make sure that you subscribe to the Diabetes Goddess Podcast on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you are listening so that you don’t miss another episode. While you’re at it, if you found some value in the show, I’d really appreciate if you would write it on iTunes or simply tell a friend about this show and how much you’ve enjoyed this podcast!
Wishing you all fabulous blood sugar levels. Until we meet again. Join me as we talk about more things diabetes related–happier things and things that just need to be talked about! Until the next time wishing you all great blood sugar levels.