The Magic Number

Today I had a major lightbulb moment that made me reevaluate my entire perspective on what it means to be successful in terms of controlling blood glucose.


For nearly the past two years I have had this magic A1C number in my mind that I want to get down to and it has been absolutely impossible. No matter how early I prebolus, how many times I check, or how much I exercise, that number has remained out of my grasp. Earlier this evening, a diabetes marketing company did an interview with me to try and get some insight on what people with diabetes are looking for today, and at one point I was asked how I felt about my A1C.

I was honest when I said that it was fine; that it wasn’t the number I have been striving for, but that I was content. After responding, there was a follow-up question that completely caught me off guard. The man asked me what I would do if and when I got to the magic number and why it was so important. I had to take about a minute to sort through my thoughts in order to answer him.

The truth is, I don’t know what I would do. I have this moment of glory envisioned where I expect some sort of special VIP diabetes pass that says “You Did It!” or “You Win At Diabetes!” I’ve been so fixated on just getting to that number, I haven’t put any thought into what comes next. (Maintaining that number for instance.)

I believe that there needs to be a shift in thinking when it comes to how we look at our numbers. It shouldn’t be this sense of success or failure. I hate when I walk out of appointments disappointed in myself for not doing well enough as though I failed an exam. Everyone’s diabetes is different, and while there is a general range that we should strive to keep our sugars within, it’s unnecessary to compare how you’re doing with someone else.

Diabetes isn’t a competition, and we all need to do what is best for our bodies and what gets us to our healthiest. I have to remind myself that while it’s important to constantly work towards improvement, it’s also equally important to remember that my goal shouldn’t be viewed as a finish line but rather as a checkpoint along the way.

Having Type 1 diabetes can be exhausting, and when I sit and think about the fact that I could very well have it for the rest of my life, it’s pretty daunting. For my next appointment with my CDE and endo I’m planning on asking what a realistic range is for me and why, rather than getting a specific number to aim for.

At 18 years old, I’m finally at the point where I understand that “being good” at diabetes isn’t for my parents’, CDE’s, or endo’s approval. I’m accepting the responsibility that I need to take the best control of my diabetes for me. Though this change in perspective hasn’t drastically changed my actual blood glucose levels, it has changed the way I feel about my diabetes when it comes to appointments. A huge pressure has been lifted and rather than feel upset about the numbers, I’m motivated because I want to do what is best for me.

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6 thoughts on “The Magic Number

  1. I am very proud of you! How mature of you to take this attitude! When I read that you are only eighteen years old, I was very surprised! You are correct, at least in my opinion. Type 1 Diabetes is very challenging. I am a “brittle” diabetic and what is right for one diabetic does not always apply to another diabetic. My endo says to do the best I can. My A1c numbers are not where they are supposed to be but I do everything I can to work at it. I am a slender athletic diabetic. I exercise nearly 2 and half to three hours a day and watch what I eat as best I can. Sure I splurge once in a while but we have to have “quality” in our lives too. I just try to take enough insulin to allow for that cookie or chocolate snack bar now and then. At least you are a teen working on your disease and not ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist and thereby possibly suffering from unnecessary complications down the road. Just take a day at a time and do the best you can! It’s a challenging disease and I have a couple of others as well but it doesn’t stop me from getting out on the courts every day! That’s because I did take it seriously and try to monitor my glucose levels and count carbs, it’s up to me, not my doctor and I make my own choices! I am 62 years old and have had the disease for almost 23 years. So far, my kidneys are in good shape and no other major complications. I’ve had some severe low blood sugars, but I am brittle, one or two units of insulin too much can really affect me, so I have to keep vigilant and set the alarm even during the early AM hours. Pumps don’t work for me. But keep up your great attitude! This is a workable disease unlike some others.

  2. Maryam… once again your words are so beautiful! You are such an inspiration to all people with Type 1. I know as parents we feel like we have failed if the A1C is not where we want it. We as parents feel like we failed an exam. I never thought that maybe Brandon felt that way too. I wish you were here so I could give you a hug!!

  3. Dear Maryam: Congratulations on such wisdom and inspiration! I am 60 years old and have had DM1 for 47 years. It has been and continues to be a challenge but always workable. Unfortunately, I do have a number of complications but continue to live life at its fullest as defined by me! As you have stated diabetes, as life is, is personal and personally defined. The advancements I have been privileged to witness throughout the years are quite incredible and give hope and tools for living successfully with this disease! Thank you for your thoughtfulness and sharing your story; an inspiration at any age! All the best!

  4. Maryam: For someone being 18 you have a great picture of what is needed to stay focused. Once we learn every diabetic is different we can concentrate on our own treatment. Tips and info from others is very important to help us along. I too have had diabetes for 47 years. The improvements that have been made are making it easier for all of us with diabetes. I never dreamed of seeing the conveniences we have today. Thank you for your story. Remember we are human and that means we do make mistakes but just take the next step forward.

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