San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetesSee all posts »
Life is Good at 6.5 %
I just got back my latest A1c results and I’m a happy man.
In early June my A1c was fluctuating between 9% and 10% (210 to 240 mg/dL), high enough that my doctor said it was time to start on insulin.
I decided then and there to make one last effort to control my blood sugar levels by watching my carbs and ratcheting up my level of exercise.
Losing weight and giving my body fewer carbohydrates to struggle with might lower my insulin resistance. This would let me avoid starting on a therapy that I had always considered a dreaded end point for the disease.
(I want to be careful about my tone here: I later took a class to learn how to shoot myself with insulin and realized that it was hardly a thing to dread. If and when it comes time to go on insulin therapy full-tilt, I’ll be the last person to say “Not for me.”)
My latest result was 6.5%, a figure that would drive a non-diabetic from the room screaming. For an old-hand type 2 like me, it was pretty damned good.
Or maybe the better expression is “good enough.” A 6.5% A1c translates to a blood glucose level of 140 mg/dL, which is the level that the American Diabetes Association says is what most diabetics should aim for. It’s not perfect, but is indicative of the disease under reasonable control.
I have another supporting argument: As an Older American, I consider a 6.5% A1c about as much as can be expected from the likes of me. There is some evidence—not so persuasive to me, but worth considering—that the attempt to achieve too tight a control over blood glucose levels can backfire by increasing the risk of heart attack.
That doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up on trying to drive my figure down to 6% or even lower. I’m going to continue restricting my carb intake and taking brisk daily walks. I’d like to lose another 10 pounds in addition to the 25 I’ve lost over the past few months.
But there are limits to anybody’s “I Can Do It All by Myself” approach to type 2. Dealing with it is like being the tamer who knows how to work a cage full of lions in a circus act. You can be savvy and good with lashing the whip and barking commands, but eventually your arm strength and voice are going to weaken and the big cats aren’t going to be so impressed.
So, I’m going to enjoy the fruits of my labor, the 2.5% drop in my A1c, for as long as I can. But I’ll keep in mind that my progress is much like my one-time boyish good looks: It eventually will fade.