Dreaded Question.

As a person living with diabetes, having a laundry list of doctors to see is quite common. And those doctors are, unfortunately, not always diabetes experts. One of the things I am asked on occasion was asked of me recently on a phone call with a nurse from my retina specialist’s office. And it drives me crazy.

“How are your blood sugars?”

Now, I’m sure there are instances where someone could say totally out of control or close to perfect (don’t I wish!) but I think for the majority of us, it depends on what hour of what day. I know they mean well and are trying to get at how “controlled” your diabetes is. But how exactly does one respond to this question? Do you respond with your latest a1c result? Latest finger stick result? Latest blood sugar average from your meter? Current CGM reading? I mean if you ask me that at the peak of my female cycle, my answer is going to be fantastic. If you ask me while I’m battling a cold, my answer is probably going to be terrible. If you ask me that while I’m under a lot of stress at work, my answer will be could be better. If you ask me while I’ve had the time and energy to beef up my exercise, my answer would likely be great. With how very tedious the daily task of managing one’s glucose levels is, and just how many factors contribute to those readings, there should not be such a blanket question as how are your blood sugars. There are just too many elements to answer that precisely. I need to think of a great answer to this question when asked. I’d love to hear suggestions!

11 thoughts on “Dreaded Question.

  1. I need an answer in the next 90 minutes! The last time I tried being honest that I was high at the moment {because I was SICK}, but that just got me dirty looks. I’m seeing someone new today, and I’ve been trying to get my answer ready for the past 2 weeks. I think I’ll go back to saying, “Good. My endo is pretty happy with me,” and leave it at that.

  2. They are present. – They are there. – They are waiting to be dealt with. – They want to be checked. – They want to sync with the CGM (no they don’t). – Well, the blood is flowing and sugar might be consumed. – Or on a serious note: They are not where I would prefer them consistently. The End.
    🙂 xoxo

  3. I like to say “Not atypical” – not to my endo, of course, since we’re generally fine-tuning and trying to tweak patterns and I/C ratios. But to everyone else who doesn’t understand that a butterfly sneezing in Alaska can throw my numbers off? “Not atypical” means “I’m a Type 1 diabetic. They’re all over the place, but I generally know why they’re not cooperating.”

  4. This is such a great way of putting it. I wish doctors would read this post lol. When they ask me I say that from a clinical perspective my overall management is pretty good and if they want to know something more specific they need to ask something more specific.

  5. Maybe I’m a bit snarky, and like you, I understand where the question comes from so I usually comply. But if a doctor is kind of annoying me for some reason, sometimes I ask: “Do you mind if I ask YOU a question, doctor?” They always say “Not at all … go ahead” at which point I say something like: “I know you studied endocrinology in med school whenever that was, but when was the last time you completed CME credits on the subject of diabetes management?” at which point, they are usually stunned and admit that it has indeed been a very long time. For me, its kind of like asking what color the sky is on a given day. The point behind the question is either to lecture patients on what they should be doing to manage a chronic disease the doctor really isn’t well suited to lecture on, or to say something like “keep up the good work” but the question really accomplishes absolutely nothing. Maybe we as a patient community can develop a good response to such a nebulous question?!

  6. well said, stacey. i usually just say, “fine. that’s not why i’m here.” usually does the trick.

    and actually, i was impressed when i went to the ER a few weeks ago. i told the ER doc that my blood sugars were doing fine, and he’s all “Ok,” and didn’t ask me ANYTHING about my diabetes, since it wasn’t directly related to why i was there. it was kind of nice! 🙂

  7. last month i took my kid in to her pediatrician because she thought she broke her wrist (luckily it was just a sprain). anyway, there was a resident there who we’d not seen before, and she was really nice, but she said, “how have her BGs been lately?” i said: a little on the high side” and she said, “and why has she been high do you think?” and i just smiled and shrugged and lightly said “busted pancreas?”. it took her a second, but i think she got it and she kinda laughed to herself, like she walked right into that one. i guess my response depends on how the person asks.

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