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Guest Post: Painting by Numbers.

I think "Instructions Not Included" is a very cool name for a diabetes blog (or, as I'm quickly learning, a mommy blog).  I'm excited to have Becky from Instructions Not Included stepping in today here on SUM to guest blog about all the freaking numbers.  NUMBERS!  People with diabetes know the drill - there are so many numbers to juggle throughout the day that if you aren't a math major, it can be pretty daunting.  Becky acknowledges that, but she also gives a beautiful twist at the end that I just loved.

Thanks for posting today, Becky, and be sure to check out her blog!

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Becky from Instructions Not IncludedI am twenty five years old. I stand at five foot and a debatable number of inches. My last HbA1c was 6.2%. Cholesterol was 3.4. By the end of today, I will have done approximately 1340 injections. I will have tested my blood glucose levels over 2555 times, testing seven times a day if everything goes well. I have filled and disposed of four sharps bins, two are sitting filled up under my coffee table, and I'm working on my seventh.  Today is my 365th official day of having Type 1 diabetes, which makes me a whole year old. Time flies.

Numbers are fascinating. They really are. I'm always keen to look at the numbers on my test results - it's in my nature to want to understand what's going on. I think there gets to a point though, and it happened to me recently, when you just want to yell 'stop!', because there are just too many numbers. It reaches overload, and you can start to feel as though you're either drowning in them, or it's all there is to you.  

It's all about the numbers. It's this amount of mmol/l. It's that many grams of carb. This percent and that percent. Turning this into a fraction, working out the carb value. Dividing and multiplying. Adding and subtracting. Diabetes has done so much more for my maths skills than watching Countdown ever did when I was trying to pass my GCSE.

I've always found it strangely reassuring that though I rarely see my consultant, he remembers where I work, knows that I take ballroom dancing classes, and remembers my housemate. But yet I know that it's my numbers he's really interested in.  Unless I say something to concern him, it's what's on the paper that matters.

I did a bit of research, based off a hazy memory I had of some figures of what the human body consists of. According to the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, the body is made up primarily of oxygen, which clocks up at 65%, followed by carbon (18%), hydrogen (10%), nitrogen (3%), calcium (1.5%) and phosphorus (1.0%). Then there is potassium, sulfur, sodium and magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, fluorine, chlorine, iodine, manganese, colbalt, and iron, all at under 1%. Finally, trace amounts of lithium, strontium, aluminium, silicon, lead, vanadium, arsenic and bromine. And if you made it through that, I'm seriously impressed.

So that's what makes up a human body. But is it what makes up a human being? Sure, I'm 65% oxygen and 18% carbon, as well as all the rest, but that's not what makes me me.  When I was talking to Andrew (my housemate) about this post, and that I was researching what makes up a human body,  and he said something that really struck a chord:

The elemental form of almost anything, is almost worthless. Take a diamond, for instance – it's just a lump of carbon. Same thing we stick in our pencils. Change its chemical composition, and it's worth far more.

That's very much what I'm trying to say.  I might have a HbA1c of 6.2%, but I also compulsively buy pyjamas, and have at least 11 pairs. I test at least seven times a day, but I also don't like to walk with someone on my left hand side (strange but true).  These are some of the things that make me who I am. Diabetes and all its related statistics doesn't define me. I'm sure that it's true of you as well.  So maybe every now and then, when we're swamped with all these numbers, it's a good moment to take a deep breath, and remember some of the things that make us a diamond rather than a heap of carbon.


"...it's a good moment to take a deep breath, and remember some of the things that make us a diamond rather than a heap of carbon."

HOW LOVELY! Great post, thank you!

wonderful post! :)

Thank you for writing this (and Kerri, for hosting). It's one thing to have a thought; it's another to put the effort into polishing it and making it presentable to others. But you did, and it was worth it. It was just what I needed to read.
I'm 25 too, except I've had this disease for 19 years now. But lately, I am drowning in the numbers. I feel so weighed down.
Your post really helped!
Good job and keep blogging.

That is a beautiful post. Thanks for that!

Great post!!! I loved it :)

Becky thanks for the joy of your thoughts. May you always enjoy good numbers on the way to a very happy life.


[Becky] + [writing] = GENIUS! :D

What an amazing analogy..and so beautifully conveyed. Thank you for putting a smile on my face today. :)

This was great - thanks Becky!

Thank you! I just started crying, but don't worry too much, a good cry. I have been feeling like carbon for a while.

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