Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Success and “Not Success”

I was going to title this post “Success and Failure” but this isn’t about failing; it’s about lack of success. There’s a big difference.

People with diabetes work hard to “do what’s right” concerning their condition. We may take the required meds, make changes to our diet, add exercise and seek out support. It takes lots of effort and determination!

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what the “right thing” is. What food plan works for me, what medications should I take, what should my numbers look like? There are always lots of people who are willing to give you advice. They might be caring friends or fellow PWD, or they could be people trying to sell you something. The best thing to do is experiment yourself and decide what is best for you.

Here’s the thing: we do these things in an effort to improve our health and attempt to keep The Beast under “control” (whatever that is). But what happens when we’re not successful? What happens to us when our best just doesn’t cut it?

The desire to just give up.

It is truly great to read other people’s stories of success; how they made this change or that and had stellar results. I am always SO happy for them! Truly.

“I lost a bunch of weight and my numbers are so improved. I feel great!”

Good for you.

“I started a different food plan, one that shuns junk, and I was able to cut back on my meds!”


“I began exercising and am now running marathons, despite my diabetes!”


These stories are inspiring and help PWD to figure out ways to improve their own situation. The problem is that sometimes PWD do all of the above, or a variation, and they are not successful. That sucks.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 12 years ago and have always managed to keep my A1c in a good range. Slowly, over many years, I’ve made changes to my food plan, tried to exercise more and increased my metformin when needed so that my numbers would remain as close to “in range” as possible. I rarely saw anything on my meter over 180ish unless I really splurged and expected that result. Things were pretty peachy.

Quite some time ago my fasting numbers began to creep up and hung out in the 130s. I didn’t like that but my doctor said, “Your A1c is so good. Don’t worry about it.” No medication change. No acknowledgement of my concern. I had been attending shared medical appointments (a sort of support group combined with a quick dr. visit.) Last April I told the dr. that, although I thought the program was awesome, it just wasn’t something I needed. She agreed and told me to come back in 6 months “since my A1c was so good”. Then things began to change. My fasting numbers crept up to the 140s, 150s, 160s. I began checking before and after meals (which I hadn’t done in a long time). I was often in the 140s before I even ate. Unheard of for me.

½ taco salad (a definite splurge) 187 4 hours after I had eaten.

Chicken strips (another splurge) 210 3 ½ hours later. No dinner that night.

½ apple w/peanut butter – still at 150 4 hours later…and I was hungry.

35 carbs = 134 up to 216.

½ a BLTA sandwich with a handful of fries for lunch today– still hanging out in the 170s.

I rarely share my numbers but I needed you to see that things are different. Instead of staying within range, I’ve been spiking way up and not coming down. (and to clarify, I don't eat those types of things very often. I eat a low carb, sensible diet.)

So what am I doing differently now? Not a damn thing. In fact, I’m eating a lot less and have been gaining weight.

Cue a doctor appointment.

I’m seeing a new doctor (because the other one semi-retired and is only doing share medical appointments and we already established that I didn’t want to do that anymore). He was surprised to see how high my fasting numbers were. We discussed possible medication changes. We talked about the fact that exercise has been difficult lately due to my fibro, but heck I can do better! “Let’s do an A1c and see where you are. If it has gone up dramatically then we’ll see about adding a new medication. If it only goes up slightly then we’ll just wait and see.”

“But what about these fasting numbers? What about these spikes and sustained higher numbers? What should I do about those?”

“They aren’t that bad. Don’t worry.”

Huh. Ugh. WTF????

I am not sharing this to get sympathy or even advice. I’m sharing this because there are so many PWD out there who are doing everything they can to “do the right thing” and make a difference in their condition and sometimes it just doesn’t work! They read stories about how a certain diet makes a huge difference for others or adding exercise “reversed someone’s diabetes”. And there they sit eating low carb and lifting weights to no avail. How do you suppose that feels? Pretty effing crappy.

This post is for you, fellow I’m-trying-so-hard-and-nothing-is-working peeps. It sucks. It’s hard. It’s simply not fair! But, it’s not your fault. You have not failed, you’ve just had the reverse of success. Not success. All we can do is keep on keepin on. Keep trying different things. Keep hammering on our HCPs to help us. Change freakin doctors if you must, but don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers who tell you that “all you have to do is…” Screw them. They don’t know. They don’t understand. But I do and I think you are fabulous!


  1. Kate,

    Having been where you are today for a more than a few years I can understand. I wish I knew how I came out of it. I do not know how I got out of the funk.

    So what I can offer is one thing. Keep trying, getting control again is so worth it. You will find your own path I am confident. I know it will turn for you, and no I do not have great tips. I just know this will turn around. How do I know? Because I have met you and I know you are a true warrior.

  2. Love every single word of this. Do what you have to do. You're a success in my eyes.

  3. I truly have the best friends! <3

  4. Love this story. At the end of the day never give up. Baby steps you will get there. Good luck to us all.

  5. So many things to comment on.

    First, "A1c is an average that does not capture many important variables, including time spent in different glucose ranges and glycemic variability."

    Diatribe has published info on the limitations of A1C testing here: and here:

    But what bothers me the most about what you've shared is how dismissive your health care team has been when you've brought up your concerns.

    You know what you're experiencing. It's important. It's vitally important to your ongoing health and quality of life. Don't let others dismiss what you're feeling and observing. And keep on keeping on.

    Sending you a hug,

  6. Any chance of finding a doctor who will take your concerns seriously?

  7. Another thought. A1c depends on lifetime of red blood cells. If, for some reason, your RBCs don't live as long as normal, your A1c could be falsely low. Is there any chance you're iron-deficient, causing anemia?

  8. Do you swear at your meter? I find that helps me sometimes. 😜



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