Checking my blood sugar takes less than 30 seconds. Truly – upcapping the bottle of test strips, inserting the strip, pricking my finger tip, squeezing blood onto the absorption pad on the test strip, waiting the five second countdown of my meter to see the result up on the screen, and then taking the strip out and turning off the meter.
Great. No big deal. Easy-peasy, and other rhyming phrases.
Let’s add in the responsive elements. First, I anticipate the result.
Have you ever had go force yourself to check your blood sugar because you don’t want to see the result? You know you’re high, so you want to avoid confirming it because seeing that number adds to the emotional failure quotient. Have you ever forgone checking your blood sugar because you know you’re low, choosing fast-acting glucose sources over the 30 second confirmation routine? The process of checking blood sugar isn’t just the installation of strip, pricking of finger. There’s oftentimes an emotional hurdle that needs to be leapt over first, forcing me to attempt to view data as data instead of data as self-worth.
Then I perform the glucose check.
Then I respond mentally. What is that number? Do I have insulin on board? Have I exercised in the last hour or two? Am I planning on exercising? Do I need to correct the number, either with food or insulin or exercise, to bring it into range? Am I okay to leave it alone?
Normal questions like, “Am I hungry?” come to mind oddly late in this hierarchy.
But before the mental response, I respond emotionally. A blood glucose result of any kind stirs up emotions, even when I try to immediately squash them. There’s pride built into a 100 mg/dL. Anxiety built into a 50 mg/dL. Guilt baked right the fuck into a 300 mg/dL. This is what keeps me from viewing my data as simply “data,” because every number represents something I’ve done or didn’t do … and I need to remind myself more that the thing I’m honestly not doing is making insulin. The rest is a basket of beady variables that spill out unpredictably.
Checking my blood sugar is important because it gives me a view of where I’m at and helps me set the pace for where I’m going. But it’s never “just a blood sugar check.” It’s more than that. There’s so much mental and emotional real estate dedicated to a 30 second process.