7.20.17

A Path Toward Releasing The Number (Wait, Is This Possible?)

We’re an analytical bunch. Numbers flow through our brains alongside most thoughts. Numbers can dictate our emotional states–ever been feeling great, get a blood sugar, see it’s at 250, and then start to feel high? That blood sugar number courses through everything we do, everyone we meet, and everything we think. But, does it have to?

Over an insurance negotiation with a Dexcom supplier, I was summoned back to the good ol’ days of testing blood sugars 5-8 times per day. While not foreign, it was a stark shift in my daily relationship to the number. Rarely am I caught off guard while wearing a CGM. If high, this is a trend I’ve been tracking for the last hour. If low, it’s usually expected. Oftentimes, these radical numbers (and surprises) are prevented (possibly the best emotional benefit of wearing a CGM).

On the pricks, blood sugar numbers hit me with a BAM, sometimes leaving me reeling for 15 minutes questioning what I did wrong. Often contemplating a couple of hours after a meal, this makes no sense, I did everything right! The frustration was palpable, and it all centered on the number.

For survival purposes, a strong attachment to the number always felt necessary. Yet, in the last few weeks of testing manually, that strong attachment was found to be harmful by two means:

  1. In the rapid emotional rise after a blood sugar, well-rounded diabetes decision making was compromised. Say, for example, that a blood sugar was 225. In that hasty frustration, I would over correct, not taking into account that I planned on mountain biking in 2 hours.
  2. Driven through the same frustration with that number, it permeated my ability to be present for moments that I otherwise would have been there for, if I had not tested at all. (More evidence that the blood sugar actually doesn’t cause the anger, but more our relationship to the number)

Moving forward, I am initiating a series of practices and choices. Underscored by a quote from Deepak Chopra in The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success, “In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.” Here’s my new strategy:

  • Prior to testing, repeat a quick mantra, “Be open to this number, knowing it will eventually change like all numbers.”
  • Choose to see the number as just a number, not a reflection of my self-worth. Even for those perfect BGs.
  • Be proactive in my response, weighing wear I’d like to be in the future too against my current situation

In close to 20 years with diabetes, the lessons never cease! May the journey continue for us all.

Being co-founder and editor for DiabetesDailyGrind, Ryan's mission is to motivate others with diabetes to live their own authentic life. Most days, when not in the hospital during his fourth year of medical school, you can find him on the bike, trail, or yoga mat. He believes in a plant-powered diet and has experienced its tremendous impact on his type 1 diabetes management and life.

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