This week has been interesting. I have nearly OD’ed on diabetes, but not quite. I’ve still got a few more things to say. I spent the time leading up to the weekend going to my endocrinologist, seeing a nurse-diabetes educator (about maybe getting a pump!) and then over the weekend, I was privileged to speak to several hundred people at JDRF Type One Nation events in Boston and Rhode Island. I also got to screen Project365 at the first Rock Type 1 event at Rockspot Climbing near Providence–it was very full, and in a word, awesome.

Screening Project365 at the Rock Type 1 event in Rhode Island
Screening Project365 at the Rock Type 1 event in Rhode Island
Delivering the JDRF Type One Nation keynote address in Providence RI
Delivering the JDRF Type One Nation keynote address in Providence RI
Team LivingVerticals youngest crusher, Liam Scott, taking a few laps at the Rock Type 1 event.
Team LivingVerticals youngest crusher, Liam Scott, taking a few laps at the Rock Type 1 event.
So about that diabetes…

I got my A1c result back last week, the dreaded “grade” that you get for your blood sugar management. A1c measures your average blood glucose for the preceding 3 months and because it only comes every several months, it feels like a really big deal. It’s not like a normal “finger-stick” blood test–if those readings come back high, you take some insulin and more or less, it comes down. Take your reading again in a couple hours and it’ll be better. Immediate results.

A1c measurements carry more weight because they are less frequent and when you get a reading that you’re not happy with, you have months before you can hope to get a better “grade”. My A1c was 6.5. I wasn’t happy with myself. That’s an average reading of about 150.

My diabetes and how I deal with it is intensely personal. Just like the concept of “normal”. Or “good” or “bad” or any of the words we are always told not to apply to our diabetes because it’s all “just information”. I don’t dwell on dissatisfaction, I try to improve it–and improvement is relative. Over the last years, my A1c has crept up from 5.9, 6.0, 6.0, 6.2, 6.4 and now 6.5.

6.5 isn’t anything to sneeze at. It’s not a “bad” A1c. I know many other people with diabetes might celebrate that reading. But I don’t compare my diabetes to anyone elses and I wouldn’t want anyone comparing theirs to mine. At the end of the day, I want to support anyone who is psyched with a 7.5 or whatever their number is. If that’s your target and you hit it, that’s awesome–its awesome because it’s YOUR target! I won’t tell you that your target should be more similar to mine–because that’s not my place and I couldn’t possibly make that assessment. On the other hand, I will aim for my target without distraction, because…it’s mine.

Diabetes, like climbing, is about personal progress. It’s a journey. Ups and downs. Seeing someone climb a route rated 5.9 who has been stuck at 5.8 for a while is awesome! I will high five them and be totally stoked for their progress. I’ll also expect them not to give me a hard time when I am not satisfied with falling off a 5.9 after climbing 5.11 with consistency. It’s not about comparing our progress with someone else (at least not for the purpose of judgement) it’s about staying motivated to always seek progress. Giving your best effort. I know I could make more of an effort, so I need to step it up.

Complacency is something I have always struggled with and so I know that when I am “satisfied” with anything I do, my decline is immanent. I’ve seen it in my climbing and my diabetes since the conclusion of Project365 and I am not ok with that. Please don’t mistake my openness about my own motivation as judgement. I am just opening the window into my experience with diabetes. Yours will vary, and I am right there with you, psyched for where you are–and for what you are progressing toward.

I should point out that it is possible to artificially achieve “low” A1c results by inducing frequent low blood sugars, which numerically “fix” the highs and give a seemingly nice tidy average. This type of “cheating” can land you with a 6.0 that really is less healthy than a steady 6.5. I don’t recommend that approach, and I can honestly say that I have not taken that approach in the past. Keeping blood glucose in range more often than not is more important than the “grade” you get from the lab every several months. I know this. I also know that grades don’t matter when you climb and times don’t matter when you run…

Having said that, my hand is healed enough to start climbing again. I’ll be starting out on 5.7s and 5.8s, because that the hardest I’ll be able to climb right now–and after three months not climbing, I WILL be happy with that.

For now!

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