Sums are funny things. If you add up 6+6+6+6+6+6+6 you should get to 42. To work out the average of these numbers, you then divide by 7. Lo and behold, you get an average of 6.
If you do the same with these numbers – 3+11+7+4+5+9+3 and average them, you’ll get an average of…. 6!
Sorry if this is a tad patronising for you, but the point is an important one. If you were a Person with Diabetes (PWD), the first set of numbers would be just perfect if they represented your Blood Glucose readings over a day.
On the other hand, if the second series were your BG readings over a day, not so good. The ‘3s’ would represent hypoglycaemia, and the 11 and the 9 hyperglycaemia. Hypo (‘cold’) and hyper (‘hot’) are not great places to be if you have diabetes. Without going on about it, hypos can mean that your blood sugar gets so low your brain decides to shut down and so do you. Hypers can be just as bad, but the problem tends to be longer term and increase risk of strokes and heart attacks. That said, it’s worth saying that hypers can have a devastating impact in the short term too. Google around and find out more.
It’s long been accepted in medical circles that ‘spikes’ in blood pressure can be a bad thing, and more and more the thinking is that spikey blood glucose is not good news.
Hence the Goldilocks thing. Not too hot, not too cold….but just right.
Going back to the numbers -for the sake of illustration, let’s imagine that the seven readings were perfectly spaced during the day. Unrealistic I know, but simple is good and works for me. This would mean that you’ve spent 100% of the day in the Goldilocks Zone and deserve a big gold star.
With the second series, the two 3s and the 4 would mean that you have spent 42.75% of your day ‘hypo’ and 28.5% of your day ‘hyper’. You would have been in the Goldilocks Zone for only 28.5% of the time. Trust me on the maths – I have a great calculator!
So – example 1 is an unrealistic 100% perfect day; example 2 shows roughly one third of the time in the Zone…
Which means what?
A couple of things to point out- first of all, unless you have fingers that are totally unforgiving at been lanced/ pricked umpteen times a day, you probably won’t take more than eight BG readings a day. This means it’s not easy to work out just how much time you are in the Goldilocks Zone (GZ) but even this rough estimation brings benefits.
Secondly, if you are rich (or fortunate) enough to have a CGM (Continuous Blood Glucose Monitor), you’ll be able to get 288 readings every day. Hence it becomes far easier to track your GZ time.
If you are a seasoned PWD, you’ll be well aware that HbA1c is the standard that most docs and nurses use to decide on your medications, and tell you how well you are doing at control your diabetes.
But have a think about it – the great and the good in Diabetes World are suggesting that what really matters is how much time you spend in the Goldilocks Zone. You might have an average of 6%, but have a range between 3% and 14% – or indeed a range of 5%-7%.
A reality check from personal experience – no matter how hard you try, or how ‘all over it’ you are, there will be days when it all goes pear shaped on you. It’s a sad fact that your condition will be omnipotent, but with all the ‘best will in the world’ you’ll not get it right all of the time. Don’t beat yourself up about it – but also don’t use it as an excuse to abdicating from your responsibility to yourself to do the best that you can possibly do.
Your diabetes, your life, your responsibility….