Moving Out of the Fast Lane

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Maybe it’s that I’m in my "terrible twos"—my second year of living with Type 1 diabetes. But for the past three or four months, I’ve felt that my self-management isn’t what it was last year at this time. But that’s not to say that the pendulum of my self-management has swung back the other way entirely. Not at all. In fact, my last endocrinologist visit and doctor’s visit a few months ago showed that I was still doing quite well in my care.

Next month, I have another endo visit upcoming, and I’m curious to see if my numbers are still in the good range. I bet they will be. I mean, I’ve checked my blood glucose averages for the past month (a month during which I would have guessed my averages were way beyond what they were five or six months ago), and they are, actually, OK. Not stellar. But I don’t care anymore about stellar. I’m averaging 130 mg/dl, and my target is 120 mg/dl. The diabetes lawyers can sue me. I’m happy.

Why do I, and why have I, beat myself up about this (what I call) slacking? I’m not slacking. Yet, sometimes it feels like it. And why do I allow me to guilt myself into feeling horrible if an errant blood glucose reading two hours after a meal isn’t what it should be, or if I take some time off from going to the gym and instead do more moderate exercise at home and by talking walks? Sure, I’ve moved away from my first-year diligence, but the truth is that I’ve only shifted my care—not backpedaled. This new gear I’m using: It’s much more sustainable over the long run.

So, instead of driving 90 MPH down the highway of diabetes care, I’ve simply backed it off and started cruising closer to the speed limit. I’ve relaxed a bit. I can now pay attention to things other than whatever it was I thought I needed to pay attention to in order to make sure that next blood glucose reading was as close to 100–120 mg/dl as possible.

When I look at my approach to diabetes self-management, it fits in with how I’ve tackled many of the things that I’ve picked up and added to my life for the long haul. (Although most everything else was elective; who’d ever opt to deal with diabetes self-management?!) I go overboard at first, way beyond a moderate approach when everything’s new and exciting. The learning curve is steep at the outset, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to do everything I can to be the best at it. I look back now and see that there was something competitive in me that wanted to be better at it than the average diabetic Joe. I admit that I felt mild satisfaction when I saw my HbA1c was lower than others’.

Yes, I was that kind of person with diabetes.

But not any longer. That mindset was not a good way for me to be in my diabetes skin. This isn’t a competition with others who have Type 1. A tempered approach is really more suited to the marathon—a race I compete in only against myself—than the initial half-mile I was trying to run in under two minutes, trying to smoke the field as I did so.

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