Success; It's different for everyone
Defining success with diabetes depends on who is defining the success. There are many ways we can define success in managing this disease. Let’s look at two ways of measuring success.
Healthcare Provider Defined Success
The healthcare industry (doctors | insurers) will typically define success mainly in terms of one number: A1C readings. (Remember, A1C is defined as your blood glucose control over the past 2-3 months. The A1C percent corresponds to a blood glucose value.) Good blood glucose control is considered as an A1C below 6.5% (or 7% depending of age and other risk factors).
All of your daily efforts with this disease is oftentimes boiled down to just this one number.
Is this fair?
Sometimes the blinders in the healthcare industry cannot see all your success because of the assumptions they have made. Some assumptions are:
You have a home - Actually, some of our patients are homeless.
That you are disengaged because you are not using a blood glucose machine or taking medication as prescribed. When in reality, eyesight issues, language barriers or educational levels may be barriers.
You don’t take regular blood reading. When the truth is supplies may be rationed because of financial reasons.
Your actions show that you just don’t want to live healthier. But the truth is there are many patients live over 50 miles from their nearest supermarket or in food deserts that have limited access to fresh and wholesome foods.
The healthcare industry sometimes forget that that there is a someONE behind that A1C reading. Using a number to define success is the quickest way to evaluate and develop an opinion.
For those with diabetes, learning to define your own successes is even more important than those defined by healthcare standards.
There is life beyond diabetes and it is up to us to help our patients navigate and find those successes. Diabetes is not always just about A1C and blood glucose, but it is also about how person is feeling and dealing with their diabetes.
Do you take the success markers only set by your doctor or do you use your own personal milestones?
Which types of successes mean more to you? Think about those things you weren’t able to do before that you can do now.
What if any physical or emotional challenges were you able to overcome? Maybe you are taking less sick days from work. Maybe you’ve noticed a change in your energy level and you are able to do more during the day.
Did having diabetes make your family healthier because you were doing better as well?
You may be making own home cooked meals rather than eating out. Look beyond yourself for you successes and how it can influence others around you as well.
So many other things can define success, beyond the A1C, that may be overlooked. This is called patient-defined success, such as:
Playing outside with grandchildren
Taking long walks with dog
Ability to keep up in Zumba class
Knowing how to manage low blood sugar
So yes, we want to reduce our A1C numbers because that is how the healthcare industry measures success, however, do not ignore your own patient-defined successes.
We look at it this way; the doctor is air traffic controller, you are the pilot and we are your copilots of your health.
It is important work with your trusted health care professional to map out what success looks like for YOU and to make a reasonable plan over a reasonable time period to get there.
We know you can.