A bargain isn’t one when it comes to your health

Now that the hazy, crazy shopping days are over, I recall an incident that occurred three years ago and seems apt to this story. On the brink of winter, I bought a bargain-priced pair of ear muffs off one of those typical tables of cheap goods on the streets of Manhattan. A month later trying to maneuver the cheap plastic band of the muffs over my ears on an absolutely arctic day, a few hours later I realized my bargain ear muffs had knocked my very expensive, designer earring out of my ear. Mind you, this is not how I typically dress, but I was on a job interview that day. The point is my $5 ear muffs cost me big time in the end. Bigger point? While shopping is a fun sport, and the odd bargain a real coup, quality is enduring and you usually get what you pay for. So now that the din of 2007 is quieting and 2008 is revving up, don’t forsake quality when it comes to your health.

I thought of our shopping behaviors and how we regard our health and our treatment regimen because a pharma rep. recently shocked me with the news that many doctors don’t prescribe insulin to their type 2 diabetes patients for fear their patients will shop for another doctor. Call me naïve, but it never occurred to me a doctor would prescribe less than the best treatment for his or her patients for fear of losing them. 

If insulin will better control your blood sugar and is the best treatment for you, yet you’ll shop for a doctor who’ll just tell you what you want to hear and, as many seem to be doing, become your pill pusher, that to me is the worst bargain – a Faustian bargain – a deal with the devil. 

The rep gave me a specific incident where he was talking with a doctor, a type 2 himself, who finally after having so much trouble managing his own blood sugars, “threw in the towel,” in his words and went on insulin. When the rep asked him how insulin was working for him, the doctor said, “It turned out to be the best thing I could have done. My blood sugars are much better and I feel so much better.” “So,” the rep asked, “now you prescribe insulin more often for your patients?” “No!” he replied, “If I did, they would leave me and go to a doctor around the corner who will give them the pills they want.”

Let’s face it, that great sweater in Filene’s basement may make you the toast of the party circuit but how many seasons is it going to last? With a sweater, who cares? With your health, I’m betting you want to see a lot more seasons ahead. Choose quality – in your doctors, your treatment, and in general, your quality of life. While I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, the new year seems the perfect time to explore what options will give you the best outcomes for your diabetes, both today and tomorrow. 

Looking for a bargain, a short cut, the easy way can cost you dearly in the end.     I know. I really miss those earrings.

10:03 A.M – 56 mg/dl

Checking in on Amy’s blog this afternoon, reading her story, In Which I Contemplate the Details, I feel the type 1 bond wrap snuggly around me and spur my fingers to be part of the, “Try as hard as you might, sometimes you have no idea where you’re going to land!” club.

Yesterday I awoke with a blood sugar of 63. No scare there, I felt perfectly fine and I am of the group who like numbers on the lower side of 100 rather than the higher side. I took my usual 3.5 units of Humalog for my steel-cut, slow-cooked oatmeal I make every morning with its dollop of plain, low-fat yogurt, tablespoon of peanut butter, hit of cinnamon, sprinkling of flax seed and wheat germ. 

An hour later I was trembling behind my computer. My brain thought, hmmm… low blood sugar? But it was so out of the ordinary following my everyday routine that I ignored my brain’s suggestion, and invited this one, it’ll pass. But ten minutes later it hadn’t and I couldn’t ignore it so I gave in, got up, and tested. 56! Dang, 56 an hour after breakfast! How is this possible. Isn’t this when all those lovingly prepared oats are rushing into my cells raising my blood sugar? 

My husband asked what I thought happened. He suggested maybe it’s the few pounds I’ve lost. Maybe I’m more insulin-sensitive. Nice try, honey, but those pounds have slowly and gradually sloughed off over the last year, nothing’s different today than it’s been in months. Maybe, he suggested, you mixed up your insulins. Of course, I really had no way of knowing, except that if I had I would now be in a very deep coma and not participating in this conversation. I was completely flummoxed, and then I knew. 

I had met a friend for dinner the night before, and while I ate what I typically eat, and enjoyed the same amount of the grape I typically do, I did do something different. I power-walked home. A solid 40 minutes. And there, in that desire to be even healthier, I created a sustained drop in my blood sugar that carried over to the next morning, and most of the day.

So, as another voting member of the blood-sugar-blues-gang, sometimes you just don’t know why you’re 56 one morning and 186 the next. Sometimes trying to do all the right things, you mess it up even more. But something I know that will always be true is while I didn’t ask to be in this diabetes club, I’m awful glad for all the fine company.