Type 1 life adventures
My brother and I may not have mastered the Rubik’s Cube but we were pretty ace at clocking his hand held Pac-Man game. It was about getting the right score with all of your lives intact: the magical 99999 back in the 80s before electronic games ventured into and beyond six figures.
Now, as a Type 1 diabetic my life is all about hitting the right numbers 24/7, with minimal loss of life.
Although it’s smaller and more chic metallic grey than bright yellow, there is something about the shape of my blood glucose meter that reminds me of that Pac-Man game. And it’s playing little games in my own head that helped me adjust to my diagnosis and to continue to manage being T1.
There’s the point in time numbers and the long term ones. The immediate ones I measure 6-8 times a day with a blood prick test to help me gauge how much insulin to inject with food, or to confirm those emerging sensations that I need food now, now, NOW to avoid a dodgy hypo. Then every 3-4 months the amount of glucose stuck to my freshly brewed red blood cells gives the lab coat people the summary of these accumulated days. These HBA1c results track my chances of avoiding diabetic complications (like kidney damage, amputation, vision loss, and stroke) down the track.
So the day to day stuff is like the qualifying rounds and then the HBA1c feedback tells me whether I’ve won the quarterly game. I condense it into small chunks rather than struggling against it as a daunting ‘for the rest of my life’ challenge. There are many moments of feeling exhausted and annoyed by the vigilance this illness demands. But treating it as a game to be ‘clocked’ helps me cope. And when I get readings that don’t quite match my expectations I stop to reflect on what has transpired to explain the score. So I am continually building up my playbook of tactics and strategy.
My results generally fall within the range of a non-diabetic (except for that one 6.5 arising from the icky nine weeks devouring gluten carbs to get a coeliac biopsy earlier this year). Each quarter there is a gap between getting my blood tests and visiting my endocrinologist. I decree these days to be bye rounds. I don’t go crazy bananas but I relax the regime a little. Then I see Dr Leo and the reset button gets hit. I’m usually buoyed by the good results but even if they are not so flash it marks the start of a new game, for which I am ready to roll.