Diabetes math 101

blood sugars for a day
It's just one day, but it feels really good. Even that slight dip into 60 wasn't the end of the world and I really did fix it with just 17 grams of carbs (a fruit roll up and five jelly beans). Now we'll see if I can keep this up.

One major factor in my success today was everything I ate was pre-packaged or prepared with known carbohydrate amounts. And for the most part, I avoided items with a lot of carbs in them. But what if I had ordered a sandwich at a deli?

a bread by any other name

The breads in the picture above range from 10-20g carbs per slice. To make a sandwich, one generally needs two slices of bread, so my sandwich would have between 20-40g of carbs. I take one unit of insulin for every 11 grams of carbs. So I would take somewhere between 1.8 to 3.6 units of insulin with my insulin pump (try THAT with a syringe, I dare ya).

If I start out with a blood sugar of 85 and take too little, my sugar could be 195 after lunch. Likewise, if I take way too much, I will be at 40 before I've gotten back from the restaurant. Knowing that a blood sugar of 195 is bad but I can function and "fix it later" while a blood sugar of 40 has me in tears and unable to drive myself anywhere, which one should I choose?

Now, quick, do these calculations while at the table, talking to your friends and not knowing if this will be the best sandwich you've ever eaten or something better for your next roofing project. What if you can't finish the sandwich because you get called away? What if you finish the sandwich and you're still hungry but you don't know if you took enough insulin or too much?

I'm not trying to start a pity party. I just want to try to explain the incredible amount of vigilance, memory for numbers, tenacity, patience and straight up math involved in accurately maintaining this disease. I did Everything Right and had great blood sugars today. But that was one day. Everyone reading this could do what I did today. It's not rocket science. But can you do it for a week? How about a month? How about for 23 and a half years? Today is my 8613th day as a Type 1 diabetic.

While each day is a mathematical challenge, diabetes is certainly not the primary focus of my life. Lots of other things have happened in the last 8613 days besides all those blood sugar readings. I learned to ride a bike. I went to prom. I passed AP calculus and went to college. I married and divorced and married again. I've owned and driven close to a dozen cars. Today was good and Sunday was really not good and Saturday was kinda in the middle. But that's really how life is in many ways. You just have to take it one day at a time.

Here's to day number 8614.