We've all heard of HbA1c right? The blood tests that give an average blood glucose reading of the previous 2-3 months. Fair enough, it needs to be done and it’s just one of those things that as people with diabetes we become accustomed to. We are being told that in an ideal world our results should come back at 48 mmol/mol –(6.5%) or below. However we all know we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in a world where it's complicated and many things will contribute to unstable blood sugars, which will in turn lead to our results not being quite where we are told they should be.
I know that different people have different feelings and opinions about this test. Recently though, through the wonders that are social media I have seen an article which has been reposted and retweeted many times, referring to the lack of communication when it comes to HbA1c results. Now this article wasn’t referring to patient/HCP communication, it was referring to patients not sharing results openly with peers and family. Their reasoning behind this is that there is a lack of encouragement, a lack of motivation and that during feedback discussions between patients and HCPs the emphasis was that “diabetics must do better.”
Unless you have diabetes its difficult to understand the anxiety felt just before getting the results. What if the result has not improved despite the work we have put in? What if our teams judge us as a result of a bad result? What if it’s still poor despite all my effort? How on earth can I do better?
Its difficult. A sense of being judged just doesn't help…..
I think that we all need to look at how we are working together and combine our knowledge to reach our goals. As people with diabetes we have access these fantastic people to help us make a difference not only to our HbA1c, but to every aspect of our diabetes, physically and emotionally!
I am of course referring to the wonderful people who dedicate their time and attention to caring for us and improving the lives of diabetics every day. Don’t think of the healthcare professionals as the experts though, you are the expert in your own condition and they are there to guide you and give you a little shove in the right direction. At the end of the day, the way that your care is delivered is very much down to you, which is why you must make sure that you are receiving the help and support that you deserve.
Take control of the situation, take control of the help and you will take control of your diabetes! It’s your health at the end of the day, no one else’s so why shouldn’t you be the boss? Take responsibility and set yourself goals to achieve the HbA1c that you know you can have. Share your goals with your healthcare team and explain how much help you want, when and where - and they will work with you to achieve them.
The mistake that I made for many years was to sit and listen, to be talked at but not talked to, to be given goals but not asked for any contribution and I would never ever talk back. I would accept what I was being told and even if I had questions, issues or problems I would never raise them. I was a voice that wouldn’t speak but a voice which had a lot to say.
The pros can sometimes be intimidating, they’re very clever people but think of it like this…. They wouldn’t be in their job if it wasn't for us. We essentially are the boss. Sure they would work in a different speciality but we all know that they absolutely love diabetes and wouldn’t swap it for the world! So for as long as we are keeping them in their jobs with our faulty pancreas’ they will work with us in the ways that we want them to.
The opportunity is there for you to be in charge so why not take it? See what an impact you can have on your next set of results. I’m sure that your healthcare team will encourage you to do this your own way, and you will be helping them out too! Just imagine how difficult it must be to try to identify with people on a daily basis when you have no idea what it is they are going through physically and emotionally. Text books, case studies, research, experiments, meetings and lectures can only teach so much, the rest is down to personal experience and the majority of healthcare practitioners don’t have that personal experience. But they are extremely knowledgeable and you will find that you will make a fantastic team if you both put in equal amounts of effort and share your knowledge of the subject.
Why not try it! Set yourself a HbA1c goal and share it next time and see what happens.