I learnt many new things this week, firstly that my HbA1c level was 7.8%. It should be, according to the nurse at my GP surgery, between 4% and 6% so it’s still high. However my last test was 10%, so 7.8% is a decent improvement. I also learnt that your HbA1c level can only ever drop by a certain amount each time, not something the diabetic nurse told me as it’s likely she doesn’t even know. Maybe she’ll read this blog and find out this rather vital piece of information.
I found out because I volunteered to take part in a study performed by the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, more of which in my next blog post. The other key thing I learnt was that I will end up using insulin. This has never registered with me before. Maybe I was told and I just didn’t take it on board. Without wanting to be rude to type one sufferers, this freaks me out. It might not be for ten years, it might not be for thirty, but it seems it is more than likely to happen.
The researcher at Oxford told me she considered anything around 7% to 7.5% to be a good rate for diabetics and between 4% and 6% to be the level for non-diabetics. My nurse would seem to have no understanding of the difference and it made me feel better to hear the simple truth that diabetes makes it harder to control your blood levels. Amazingly simple! Diabetes makes it harder to control your blood sugar levels and because of this having an HbA1c around the 7% mark means you are doing well. The comedian Lenny Bruce once said, ‘the truth is what is’, in other words what’s real is what’s right. I have diabetes therefore it is unlikely by blood sugar levels will be anything other than high.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t try to get them into the normal range as the more normal the levels the longer I get to put off injecting insulin. However I’m not going to be too hard on myself if they aren’t and if my nurse tutts at me or makes a comment I’ll remind her, I’ve got diabetes!
I also learnt that the blood sugar measuring device that you get with the finger prick test isn’t as accurate at the lower levels as it is at the higher levels. I measured my blood levels after work the day I had my HbA1c test for which I had to fast in the morning and it came back with 2.2. I panicked a little and went and ate a pizza. I didn’t feel poorly or have a headache or feel tired or grumpy – all signs of low sugar – so it may just be that the reading was wrong.
One last thing, my girlfriend warned me about something in the paper relating the danger of exercising for diabetics, I haven’t seen it but I did ask the diabetic expert at Oxford, Katherine, who said exercise was the best thing any doctor can prescribe any diabetic patient. She told me a story of a man who within three months of seeing his doctor got much healthier, got his blood sugar levels down, his blood pressure down and lost weight – the miracle wonder drug he prescribed – get a dog and walk it twice a day.
So to surmise, diabetes makes it hard to control your blood sugar levels, your HbA1c level can only go down by a limited amount each month, exercise is good, and blood sugar monitors don’t work as well at the lower end as they do at the higher end. I think these things are worth knowing and I’m surprised my GP and nurse don’t. I hope this information helps you in some way, maybe you can pass it on.