Thursday, July 27, 2006

Caught Up in The Numbers

I had a nice day at work - focused and productive. I was happy to see one of my friends at the bus stop and we exchanged pleasantries about the weekend coming up. Then another person came along and said "oh, how can you stand it out here - it's 90 degrees!" Well, until then, I hadn't thought a smidge about the weather - no opinion whatsoever - it's July in Minnesota, no more, no less. But.......within a few seconds I started to feel a tad uncomfortable, and craned my neck to see the digital thermometer on the bank up the street. It said 96 degrees (in direct sun) and then I noticed that my face suddenly felt flushed, my hair was starting to frizz and my skin felt like the sweat was oozing out in big honking drops. All because of the numbers...............the numbers that dictate how we should feel at a certain temperature.
Since I started working on my control, I think a lot about numbers and sometimes they tell me how to feel. When I get on the scale and the numbers haven't changed, I feel like a big fat cow and hear "nothing's gonna make you look good today, so don't bother putting on anything nice". When I look at my pedometer at the end of the day and see 9950 rather than 10,000 steps, I hear, "you are lazy and undisciplined - why even bother". When I take my blood pressure and see 128/75 I hear "that's toward the top of the target range - I'd be really worried if I were you".
And when my dawn phenomenon is very active and I wake up with a blood sugar of 180, I hear "ha - your day is off to a rotten start so you might as well stop at Starbuck's and get a nice gooey cinnamon roll".
The numbers can change my mood in the second that it takes them to appear.
Yes, I am thankful for the wealth of information that numbers provide - when my meter tells me my blood sugar is 42, it's time to treat the hypo; when my A1C goes down .5 of a point, it's time for a pat on the back.
But, the next time the numbers threaten to throw me into an irational, undies in a bundle tailspin of shame, apathy, fear and depression, I'm going to calmly say, "you're not the boss of me" and walk away.

7 comments:

mel said...

that's the attitude! One day at a time. I've learned a lot about that in the past year, especially when reflecting upon "numbers." Thanks for sharing with us!

Kevin said...

Excellent.
I've waxed (not so poetically) about this before, but I really wish there was some sort of opposite reaction that would be just as strong as the negative ones we deal with when confronted with "less than perfect" numbers. The asymmetry of our human response sets us up very poorly.

I mean, wouldn't it be awesome if everytime you woke up with a BG between 80 and 100 you were filled with motivation and optimism that matched (or even exceeded) the dread or depression we feel when (for example) you wake up with a reading over 200?

Instead, it seems like the good results are met with fleeting self-congratulatory feelings and often overshadowed by skepticism or some other negative thought about how long it will take before you through it out of whack (again). BUT, hey! those feelings of dispair sure know how to linger, don't they?!

I guess what I'm saying here is this: More carrot, less stick. Though, no doubt, some stick is still necessary, like everything else with life (and life with diabetes specifically) it's all about finding the right balance.

I like your attitude, though. Shake off the incidental data points (and no more beating yourself up with verbal assaults in your head). Focus instead on the big(ger) picture: progress, improvement, healthy lifestyle, etc.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post.

Followed by a great comment by Kevin.

I just love you guys!

Kelsey said...

Oh the numbers! I try to think about the the tens of thousands of times I'm going to test my blood during the course of this disease... it realy puts one little number into perspective.

That said, high numbers still get me down! I suppose rather than be depressed we should feel determined to get that number down! Then, when our next blood sugar is (hopefully) in range, we can feel empowered that we're able to make a positive change for our diabetes health.

That works for one isolated high, but when the drag on for hours or days (or weeks) then the frustration is inevitable!

julia said...

I just came across your blog via Scott's page. Welcome to the OC.

I like your attitude towards the numbers. I obsess over my daughter's bg numbers in an unhealthy way sometimes. No, most of the time. I feel like a failure as a parent when she runs high for days. I know I shouldn't, I know it's because she's going thru puberty and I know I will get a handle on things quickly, but when I'm in the throes of it, it really sucks. Maybe it's a little different being the parent of a CWD - I mean, there's already a huge helping of mother guilt in there, but you add a chronic condition to the mix and it'll really mess with your head.

But I'm working on it. Posts like yours and blogs by all the other PWDs out there really help a lot. They all kind of get me off the ledge.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your insights.

julia said...

I just came across your blog via Scott's page. Welcome to the OC.

I like your attitude towards the numbers. I obsess over my daughter's bg numbers in an unhealthy way sometimes. No, most of the time. I feel like a failure as a parent when she runs high for days. I know I shouldn't, I know it's because she's going thru puberty and I know I will get a handle on things quickly, but when I'm in the throes of it, it really sucks. Maybe it's a little different being the parent of a CWD - I mean, there's already a huge helping of mother guilt in there, but you add a chronic condition to the mix and it'll really mess with your head.

But I'm working on it. Posts like yours and blogs by all the other PWDs out there really help a lot. They all kind of get me off the ledge.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your insights.

type1emt said...

It's hard not to get depressed over "the numbers", its what automatically judges us PWD's as good- or a noncompliant train wreck waiting to happen. I read in Diabetes Forecast once, one of those positive things you can do is stick a piece of tape above the screen and write "ITS JUST A NUMBER" on it. It might help dispel some of the negativity over some of the numbers that come up.