A1c 6.3: my journey downward

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Would you let me know my A1c result before the doctor comes in?"  I looked up at the nurse, pleading with my eyes.  I like to have a moment with it alone.  It's emotional.  I need some recovery time before I have to talk with anyone.  Doesn't matter what it is.  She gave me an odd look, but tracked down the paper and handed it to me.  "6.3" she said.  "What?!"  I was shocked, glancing down at the paper, looking up at the nurse.  "Are you sure?"  "Is this mine?!"  "Yep, looks like you're doing a great job."

It turns out I had not recovered before my doc entered the room.  "How are you?"  "What's new?"  "How's the legal field?"  "HAVE YOU SEEN MY A1C YET?!"  "Now, Jill, remember, the A1c is not a number.  It doesn't define you.  The important thing is that you're making improvements and working hard."  He has this speech down after encountering my emotionally fragile post-test states...I guess I never really have enough time to fully recover.  "IT IS 6.3," I interrupted.  "Wait?  Really?" he asked glancing down at his chart.  "Get out.  High-five."

I was still high-fiving myself hours later, jumping around our apartment and singing out to A "6.3! 6.3!"  Yes, it's just a number.  It's an imperfect measurement of my control over this disease.  But, number that reflects improvements in conquering what has been the most difficult, continual evasive task of my life.  Big improvements.

What is an A1c?  This test reflects your average bloodsugar for the past few months by measuring the percentage of your hemoglobin coated in sugar.  The test dates back because each red blood cell can live about 120 days.  A non-diabetic individual's A1c will fall somewhere between 4.0%-6.0%.  Theses numbers reflecting an average blood-glucose range between 70 and 120.

Historically, I have done okayish.  I didn't necessarily meet target A1c goals, but I wasn't too far off.  And 72% of diabetics under age 25 do not meet the A1c goals for their specific age group.  As a child and teenager, my A1c scores ranged between 7.5% and 8.5%, reflecting an average blood glucose range between ~170 and 200.  As I became an adult, technology advanced, and I became more disciplined, I managed to get my A1c between 7.0% and 7.5%.  Generally, an A1c below 7 is identified as a goal for adults.  Certain patients may be able to set a goal below 6.5, including those who have a short-duration diabetes, long life expectancy, and no cardiovascular disease.  I don't really fall into that intensive group because I was diagnosed at such a young age and have had the disease so long.  But, since I'm hopeful for a cure, I have always set personal goals as if I were in that group.

This past spring, I finally dropped my A1c below 7.0% with a number at 6.9%.  And yesterday, for the first time in my entire life, I clocked in at 6.3%, which equates to an average blood glucose of around 134.  I honestly did not think an A1c that low was a real thing for a diabetic.  I had heard of people who claimed they had A1cs in that range, but I attributed that to a superhuman vigilance.  "Those people probably don't do anything other than measure their disease," I'd always think.

As it turns out, I did not become superhuman.  I was shocked that I'd made such drastic improvements.  I'd improved some technical aspects of my diabetes care, but as I think back, most of my changes were general health changes that made caring my diabetes easier.  This post is getting super long, so I'll sum my changes reflections in another post soon.  In the meantime: HAPPY!

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