40 Responses

  1. Cindy
    Cindy May 24, 2011 at 6:38 am | | Reply

    Well said!

  2. David
    David May 24, 2011 at 6:38 am | | Reply

    We PWD’s really are on our own and even medical caregivers don’t really “get” it. My pet peeve is the finger-stick I get at the beginning of every doc appointment. If the # is low-ish, the assistant acts like its a big deal and I’m thinking, “you know I live with the threat of lows 24/7/365, right?”

  3. Scott Strange
    Scott Strange May 24, 2011 at 6:46 am | | Reply

    Amen, sister…

  4. Tony Rose
    Tony Rose May 24, 2011 at 6:47 am | | Reply

    Amy – I read this another way. If that person saw you check your BG number in the middle of a session and she was a doctor, then maybe it was just concern for your well-being. She probably knows the seriousness of a low BG number and was simply concerned. Granted, you were there and I could be wrong, but that’s how I read it.

    I can sense your frustration and feel the same way a lot of times even those close to me. Most people don’t get “it” unless they actually have a non working pancreas.

  5. Jasmine
    Jasmine May 24, 2011 at 7:01 am | | Reply

    Love. I wish a slow clap translated to a blog comment.

  6. riva
    riva May 24, 2011 at 7:07 am | | Reply

    One of the best exposes you’ve written – I’m tweeting it! It’s exactly how I feel whenever anyone asks me, “How’s your blood sugar?” or “How’s your diabetes?” Like you, my general practitioner asked at my last visit, and like you, I looked at him and said, “What do you mean?” He hesitated, faltered, stumbled, mumbled, and then said something I don’t remember. This is exactly one of the core issues of type 1 diabetes people don’t get – including doctors, great post.

  7. donna schindler
    donna schindler May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am | | Reply

    I agree with all you said with hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and cherries on top! GRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrr! No one gets it!

  8. Lorraine
    Lorraine May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am | | Reply

    Amen! You go girl. I hope that woman is reading. Perhaps she can post her bra size!

  9. lili
    lili May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am | | Reply

    I know, right? One doctor insisted I tell her my “last” bg, so I finally did – 265. “Why is it so high?” she demanded. “Because I have diabetes.” She didn’t like that answer. Then I told her my A1c and she almost accusatorily said that my last bg must not be representative. Duh, that’s what I was trying to explain when you wouldn’t listen. (Although she also arrived at “not representative” through faulty data interpretation).

    One data popint does not equal a trend.

  10. Doug
    Doug May 24, 2011 at 7:37 am | | Reply

    Its like the standard questions the nurse at the endo asks … ” whats your typical morning BG ”

    In my opinoin its a question designed for type 2s and its designed for a quick easy question and a quick easy answer. Really understanding the numbers would take time that most Drs dont offer.

    The mandatory finger stick in the endos office is also pointless. I guess it would warn them if Im tumbling into unconsciousness from a low or DKA. BUT its pointless for me since I test a lot. Its NOT likely pointless for the Type 2s they see who NEVER test…

    The A1c number is the best answer – It tells them that no matter what your BG is now, over time its either pretty good or not so much.

  11. Jana
    Jana May 24, 2011 at 7:41 am | | Reply

    I second the slow clap idea above ;) Just awesome. Well said.

    For me, this frustration translates *especially* to non-diabetes specialists. I was checking my blood glucose while waiting for some primary care or urgent care doc to come into the exam room sometime (I don’t remember the exact situation), and the doc saw the 185 (which was precisely the couple hours post-breakfast situation) and asked “Do you see numbers like that often? Are you in close contact with your endocrinologist?” As if I needed to talk to my endo because I was 185 post-meal! Ugh. I guess it just blindsides me when I find ignorance in people that shouldn’t be that ignorant.

  12. Wendy
    Wendy May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am | | Reply

    Totally hear ya here!!!!!!

    When checking a child’s number in public, there are always stares. We’ve gotten used to it, but sometimes there’s someone in the crowd who asks…and it drives me crazy. CRAZY! I’ve been managing every finger poke she’s had for almost 6 years…thank you, stranger, for asking “How is she?”

    Well, she’s scarfing her meal, smiling, laughing with her sisters, and telling jokes at the table…looks to me like she’s pretty darn good!

    I usually just smile, thank them for their concern, and tell them that all is well.


  13. Tony Rose
    Tony Rose May 24, 2011 at 7:42 am | | Reply

    Amy – then you are absolutely correct and I now understand. People like that piss me off and are just noisy.

    My last Endo visit I was 68 during the in-office BG test. The tech gave me a juice box and told me to drink it. I said, thanks, but I’m fine. She told me she must give it to patients that are below 70. I told her thanks and left it on the table when I was done with my visit. I know my numbers and dangerous levels better than anyone.

    Diabetes is WAY MORE than just 70-130 mg/dl. WAY MORE and you have to have diabetes to fully understand.

  14. Kristin
    Kristin May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am | | Reply

    SO TRUE! I have been going to a retinologist much more often that I would have preferred over the last year or so. Every time I go in, they ask me what my blood sugar was that morning. WTF? I have no idea why they do that, unless they are trying to ascertain if I do indeed test at least daily. Also, it befuddles me why they ask at some doctor appts, “… and was that fasting?” Look, my blood sugar at any given time is the result of carbs, insulin, stress, the time of the month, recent exercise AND what I plan to do in the next hour or so (like exercise, eat, etc.). A fasting glucose is still the result of all those things. It is not as if I have residual insulin camping out in my body that can smoothe things out over night to make a fasting glucose any better than a glucose at any other time of the day or night. I think one of the most frustrating things about this is the that you would think MEDICAL PEOPLE would get this!!! Maybe not your coworker, but at least a doc, right?

  15. Val
    Val May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am | | Reply

    Amen! I got pissed off at my last eye exam. The doctor asked “how is your blood sugar control?” I responded with “Do you even know how irritating that question is? I have type 1 diabetes. My BG reading are all over the place and never where I want them, despite testing ten times a day and wearing a CGM. But I’m here, getting checked out, like I’m supposed to. I can control when I see a doctor, I can’t control what my blood sugars do.”

    He apologized and said he has to ask when he sees a diabetic, but I still don’t understand why. If my eyes are still perfect and my a1c isn’t, don’t you think I know it would still be better if I had “perfect control”? If my eyes aren’t perfect and my a1c is, what help is that? You know I’m diabetic, check my eyes, not my BG.

  16. Jeanne
    Jeanne May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am | | Reply

    I just did a post on this very topic as a type 3! I was at an event where the speaker talked about the psychological effects on people with diabetes and gave us some “do’s and don’ts” as type 3′s. I was so sad when I realized that, by asking my grandson some of these questions, instead of showing him that I cared, asking him his bg can actually be adding to his frustration or disappointment in his numbers. I guess these do’s and don’t should be taught in med school too!!

  17. Bob S
    Bob S May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am | | Reply

    I find the best answer for that question if the person is not a close friend goes like this. They ask: How is your blood sugar? You say: Perfect!

  18. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell May 24, 2011 at 8:16 am | | Reply

    Amen, amen and amen again. Why do people, including doctors, continue to ask what is clearly (to PWDs) a stoopid question??

  19. Mike Hoskins
    Mike Hoskins May 24, 2011 at 8:22 am | | Reply

    I think it’s part of the same phenomenon that forced me to say “WTFructose” when I see a 299 on my meter this morning at work… Instinctual to dub something “good” or “bad,” or even to more neutrally recognize it as “in-range” or not. Context comes later after that initial response. Yet you’re absolutely correct, Amy, that others responding or asking us about our own numbers should be putting that context first.

  20. tmana
    tmana May 24, 2011 at 8:54 am | | Reply

    I read “How are your bg numbers?” to mean “are they in range for you?” or “are they within your goals?” A1c gives average, when it’s the excursions that can adversely affect your health. When asked by a medical professional who does not normally have access to your logs, I consider the question to be valid. “Are you good?” to another PWD means “are you in range for what we just did or expect to be doing immediately?”

  21. marion
    marion May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am | | Reply

    YES!! This is great!…

    I had a OB actually throw a piece of paper with one blood sugar from over a month ago previous to the appointment at me when I was pregnant and ask is this normal. My best answer was yes, it is very normal for me 30 min after eating a burger on the way to an appointment. but all she could do was lecture and she was one of there “diabetes experts in OB”. This appointment was followed by one at my endocrin, she only had one really pissed patient and understood why. let just say before I left that medical facility I had emailed the heads of both departments and customer service.

    I think this needs to be out in many more places!! this is a great comment!

  22. Sysy
    Sysy May 24, 2011 at 9:22 am | | Reply

    “How are your sugars?” is a question I don’t know how to answer either. My big question is how do we educate others about this without alienating them with our upset tone (which is totally called for)?

    I just don’t know.

    But when I get this question…no matter if I’m 80 or 180, I say, “I’m just fine, thanks.” I also cover up my meter screen every time I test (a weird habit) and uncover it just long enough for me to see the number and then I put the meter away. That tends to give people this message of privacy or something.

    When a doctor asks, I assume they want me to bring up any issues I have that they can help with. I assume they want me to be “in range”.

    It would be great if everyone learned how to best approach this- doctors and the general public.

  23. Kristin
    Kristin May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am | | Reply


    When people try to look over my shoulder to see my meter at restaurants and ask “How are you doing?” I always respond, “Fine, and you?”

  24. Cara
    Cara May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am | | Reply

    Amen!!! The term “good” is strange & doesn’t work. I hate those questions.

  25. Heidi
    Heidi May 24, 2011 at 11:22 am | | Reply

    I always thought blood glucose meters would sell so much better if the “picture” on the front was “real”: give me a meter showing 252 or 206 or even 42! If you notice, they range between “93″ and “105″….

  26. Penny
    Penny May 24, 2011 at 11:23 am | | Reply

    Maybe when people ask, you should ask them their bra size, or how much they weigh, cause that would certainly shake things up. I wholeheartedly agree with you Amy and as a parent of a kiddo with T1, we often get judged harshly too. We are ‘responsible’ for the numbers that are there – as in, what did you feed that kid? when the 259 pops up. Numbers are neither good nor bad, they just let us know what to do, that’s all. Hard for the general non-D population to understand on so many levels.
    Great post.

  27. your Peep
    your Peep May 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm | | Reply

    Man this hits home. What’s good? I’m fighting insurance for a continuous glucose meter because I cannot feel moderate lows (on the approval track). There is no such thing as good. It’s “is your blood sugar where you want it?” I rode 62 miles on Saturday and was happy with my glucose just under 200. Then the rain messed up the meter. For the last 30 miles i had no idea what my glucose was but I must have been “good” since I didn’t pass out.

  28. Mordechai
    Mordechai May 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm | | Reply

    Great post! You really made me smile, I’m totally with you.

  29. Hans
    Hans May 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm | | Reply

    With most docs I know there still is a lot of magic to the morning fbg, the good or not so good or bad numbers. Remember reading 140-160 for years, and whenever I phoned the doctor’s for the numbers of my routine bloodwork the assistant told me that that was much too high and that she wanted me to have a talk with the doctor. Only after that intro did I have the opportunity to ask for my A1c for which she had to turn the page and read my 5.something – and no more word about talking to the doc ;-)

    The numbers in between the morning fbgs have only had their official acknowledgement as somehow meaningful since 1995-98 with the ample evaluation of the UKPDS and the DCCT. Idealy below 140mg/dl 2 hrs after eating has been the only official conclusion from all the studying so far. With the simpleton message that numbers below must be good and numbers above must be bad, mustn’t they?

    And public reaction? Isn’t that more often than once our own reaction to how we expect and presume the public to react? – Most of my 64 years on this earth I could walk and even run quite well without crutches. But even in my best of times I could not hide the effect that polio had had on my left leg. And I was sure for years that everybody in the street was staring at me. I cannot remember when it first dawned on me that people didn’t stare when I didn’t stare. It has taken me quite a bit of really long time learning, that usually the public has been reacting to my anticipations. Nobody has ever asked me for my numbers or units when I tested or injected in public – unless I stared/looked at them ;-)

  30. Diabetty
    Diabetty May 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm | | Reply

    I dunno, as I’ve said before I’m still fairly new to this whole thing (T2), and I for one would be thrilled if my boyfriend or close friends asked me how I was doing, numbers-wise, from time to time. I’d feel much more accountable to someone other than myself if they did. That being said, when my A1c came back this week at 7.0, having been 13.2 at diagnosis, my boyfriend was probably more excited than I was to hear it.

    But if a complete stranger ever asked for reasons other than a potential medical emergency? Swift punch to the kidneys. (I’m exaggerating. But only a little.)

  31. Sysy
    Sysy May 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm | | Reply

    Hans, has a great point. Thanks for that reminder :)

    Sometimes our reactions about stuff like this are so strong because our feelings involve guilt or frustration with ourselves. It skews our perception a little. Just as many out there are ignorant to our stuff we’re surely ignorant to a lot of their stuff.

  32. John
    John May 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm | | Reply

    Wheres that meter with the handy side button that spits out 108 on the screen ;)

    or some in-range random number.. ;)


  33. John
    John May 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm | | Reply

    Since your discussing d-etiquette for people who are NOT diabetics.. Funny you should mention behavioral diabetes institute and not this lovely PDF/brochure discussing things like people reading your meter and passing judgement..

    (PDF is a separate download on that page)

  34. Nopalea
    Nopalea May 25, 2011 at 5:20 am | | Reply

    Great post! It’s so true- those numbers are not just contextual, but personal, and I don’t see why people are inclined to bother asking… I like Penny’s idea about asking them their weight- that might get the point across. lol.

  35. Natalie Sera
    Natalie Sera May 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm | | Reply

    So if they ask me my number I tell them. They usually haven’t got a clue as to what it means anyway. So I tell them it’s fine and change the subject. I’m not shy about my diabetes — I can bore them REAL quick, and then THEY want to change the subject! LOL!!

  36. Nancy
    Nancy May 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm | | Reply

    SOOOO been there… with the opthamologist, too. His assistant asked me what my BG had been that morning and it happened that it was 180-something, instead of the 110-120 it had been more typically. So then the doc comes in and makes a note IN MY CHART that my BG control is “erratic.” Excuse me? You see me once a year and you’re basing this on ONE number. Made me wish I’d just picked an in-range number instead of being honest.

    And my husband doesn’t understand why I’m sometimes a little impatient with health care providers… My current endo, at least, likes to use the software to look at the patterns instead of focusing on specific numbers, which is great to my mind.

  37. Neesha
    Neesha June 1, 2011 at 11:46 am | | Reply

    Oh, the stories we could all share! A friend and colleague of mine, also a nurse and diabetes educator (I am an NP), were at a diabetes conference together one year. We went for drinks with friends before dinner, and not knowing how much carbohydrate was in the mixers, both opted to cover for it later, before dinner. Dinner was with a bunch of diabetes educators, who, when they saw our numbers, were horrified at how we had allowed our BG’s to get that high! The two of us were laughing because of the ridiculity of the reaction. They should know better than to ask such questions! “You just try living with diabetes,” we wanted to tell them. The story still makes us laugh to this day. =)

    Another one – one of the doctors asking me how I allowed my blood sugar to get that low. Excuse me, I don’t allow my BG to become low, it just happens sometimes! I’m sure I gave her quite a strange look in response.

    It’s so nice to have others with diabetes to share the war stories with and be entertained by them together!

  38. Joe
    Joe June 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm | | Reply

    I’m a type 2 and I get that question all the time. “how are blood sugars?” I just usually say that they are fine.
    Why is it that Eye Dr.’s, are interested in the numbers.
    I end up telling them my latest a1c number to shut them up.

  39. Aven Peralto Nichols
    Aven Peralto Nichols June 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm | | Reply

    So true !!

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