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After a Disappointing A1c Result, 5 Things I'm Doing to Get Back on Track

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Ilene Raymond Rush - Blogs
By Ilene Raymond RushAward-winning health and science writerMay 28, 2021

When it comes to managing my type 2 diabetes, perfection has never been the goal. Instead, I’ve tried to keep my eating and exercise in the “good enough” range -- good enough to keep my weight in check and sugars low. Avoiding perfection has helped me deal with days that I overeat or slack off on working out. Or simply don’t feel like taking my blood sugar reading one more time.

And overall, my approach has worked pretty well.

Or so I believed, until I received results of my most recent HbA1c test, which measures average blood sugars over the past 3 months, and saw that it had jumped from 5.7 at the start of the pandemic to  6.7.

Yikes.

While I had still kept my numbers under 7 -- the standard goal for people with type 2 diabetes -- my trend was definitely up.

I know my endo, who I see in a week, will want to discuss why this is happening and how to deal with it. But before I head to my first face-to-face visit with my doc in over a year, I’ve started to map my next moves:

1. Avoid denial. The easiest route is to ignore the rise. After all, I’m under 7 and feel fine. But knowing how increased blood sugars can create all kinds of future complications, I’m reminding myself  that how I feel at this moment doesn’t really matter. What counts is how a continued drift upwards in my HbA1c numbers might impact my future health.

2. Assess, assess, assess. I have to be honest: The increase wasn’t a total surprise. While I’ve continued cardio, weightlifting, and yoga workouts during the pandemic, none has been as strenuous as my pre-pandemic group exercise classes at the Y.  And while I added only a pound or two during COVID-19, long days and nights in isolation meant some additional snacking on dried fruit, popcorn, and dark chocolate, which couldn’t have helped my numbers.

3. Squelch stress. Given the events of the past year, there has been no way to avoid stress that can cut into sleep, lead to irritability, and boost blood sugars. While our daily lives have improved with the vaccine, many of us, including me, still harbor free-floating anxiety about the future. Keeping up with exercise and relaxation techniques, be it yoga, massage, or meditation, is more important than ever.

4. Remain vigilant. While skipping an occasional blood sugar check is fine when my readings were low, I need to tighten up to see how my body is dealing with food and exercise. The older you get, the more beta cells you’ve burned, and while my body may have been able to squeeze out a little extra insulin in the past to cover some indiscretions, that supply may be running low. Careful tracking can help me see if changes have occurred.

5. Don’t panic. Rinse and repeat.

As I said earlier, I never aimed for perfection in my diabetes care. Even as I start tightening up my care, I know that if I can’t fix things on my own, I may require extra medication. But before I reach that point, I’m going to do some tinkering in the hopes that the next time I take the test, my numbers will be trending in the opposite direction.

Wish me luck!

Photo Credit: jarun011/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author
Ilene Raymond Rush

Ilene Raymond Rush is an award winning health and science freelance writer. Based on her own experiences with type 2 diabetes, she brings a personal take and a reporter’s eye to examine the best and newest methods of treating and controlling the disease.

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