Numbers Shmumbers

For me, numbers are overwhelming. They started off great (I killed at times tables and geometry), but as I got older numbers started to take on a more sinister role. In the classroom numbers became confusing, and full of anxiety and terror. What is sin, cos and tan?  Why do I have to know how to do BIDMAS? WHY ARE ALL THE NUMBERS AND LETTERS MIXING TOGETHER IN MY HEAD?! WHAT DO THESE MEAN?! WHO AM I?


When I was diagnosed, numbers became my nemesis.  Diabetes is full of numbers – it’s a 24/7 disease that has you constantly doing equations in your head. For a teenager who had trouble with figuring out ratios in jelly shots, this was not the best disease to have. Since diagnosis, numbers have been my downfall.  When a dietician tells me about a “a super easy equation to figure out your insulin units!”, I nod and panic inwardly. Will I need to use a calculator? How long will this take? Will this be triggering? Before I went on the pump, I used to do S. W.A.G boluses –   a scientific, wild-ass guess, where you use more instinct than data to bolus an unexpected or uncalculated meal. Why would I do that? THIS was my mind during every injection.

“Ok, so this meal is 50 grams…but I’m playing netball in an hour…but I’m also sick…so will 2 units be enough? Will that send me low? But I don’t want to play high…but then what if that exercise shoots me up then down?  What if…oh FUCK IT 3 units and jellybeans it is”

Would you like to do that every time you eat?

The pump has been my saviour, as it does some of the calculation for me, but it has also been my downfall. Pumping requires more BGL testing – and that’s where I crumple. Every time I see a number on my tester, I have an emotional reaction to it. When I see a number like 5.5, I feel so proud of myself, like it’s an A+ beaming up at me from the screen. When I test and I’m high, I feel terrible. I feel like I’ve failed an assignment – naughty pancreas! How dare you! I fed you a salad and this is how you treat me?!

Numbers judge me. Numbers yell at me and tell me that I’m a ‘bad diabetic’, that my efforts are worth nothing, that I’m a terrible person. An 18.7 feels like a punch in the face – like it’s screaming “This is your best effort?! This is all you’re capable of?” This is totally my issue, and many people with diabetes don’t see their BGLs like this. They see them as simply a number, nothing more. Objectively, I know blood sugar levels are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Blood sugar levels are just that – LEVELS. They’re not a grade, or a personal judgement, they’re simply a platform from which to take action. I will preach this to anyone who will listen, but somehow it won’t get through to my own brain.

My issue with numbers has led to me struggling. I’m avoiding testing as much as I should, because I’m terrified not knowing what the result going to be, and that I can’t prepare myself if it’s ‘bad’. I hate that I attach my value as a person to my BGL, but I’m finding it really hard to separate the two.

My diabetes is a part of me, and when it’s not under control, I feel out of control.



3 responses to “Numbers Shmumbers

  1. I agree! I am always looking at my 12-year-old son’s numbers, and I have a hard time too not feeling horrible or upset when they are reading too high or low. I have always hated math, and man does T1D force you to live it. Good luck with it all, and remember that you are more than a number! You are an amazing individual who just happens to live and thrive with T1D.

  2. Numbers yell? Well they are yelling me to stop eating so darn many carbs. LOL I am guessing that carbs may not be the entire culprit. Maybe putting them in my mouth is a bigger issue? Just a guess 🙂

    I referred this blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of April 12, 2016

  3. Spot on. Ive actually been writing things down this week and trying to work through some BG issues, which I hardly ever do. Like you, I tend to dose insulin on instinct. When I use the numbers as a tool to improve, I feel far less emotional and more rational.

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