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1% of a Small Number

03/03/2014 10:52

When does a 1% matter to you?  A vivid example of a time that 1% mattered to me was in my final term of university.  Graduating literally was dependent finally on one of my option courses ironically.  It was Political Science & the course mark consisted of only 1 exam at the end of the term.  The exam consisted of about 100 multiple choice questions with the incorrect answers subtracted from the correct numbers. The professor was crystal clear that his tolerance for the guessing approach to multiple choice questions was profoundly low. Still though, I had been raised to finish everything on my plate & I kind of looked at life itself through that lens as well.  In that spirit, I found that I could not bring myself to leave any question unanswered even though there were many questions that I was not confident about.  The questions that I was uncertain about, I went ahead & answered anyhow.  When I think about it now, I would never do this at this stage of my life. The way that I looked at life’s decisions, tolerance for risk & mixture of naiveté were much different naturally than they are now. Oh my goodness, if I could tell my younger self that taking the course was a bad idea & that hanging my entire course mark on one exam of that nature was also not a great idea I would have.  The day that the marks were posted I drove 2 ½ hours each way back to university to look specifically at my Political Science mark.  It was the one & only time in university that I saw such a low mark staring me in the face yet I was jubilant because it was the determining factor in me graduating on time.  The mark on that exam was a D-.  That mark was scary & terrific all at once.  You better believe that 1% meant everything to me at that moment & for a long time after that.

Did you find that when you were first diagnosed with type 1 or another “365” health challenge that you became a near scientist in that you wanted to learn everything that you could right away about the diagnosis?  I know I did.  I went at break neck speed & read everything I could get my hands on.  When the answers frankly were less than helpful, I decided to cut out doing this anymore.  That does not mean that I don’t embrace learning because I absolutely do.  It is just that there is not too much that I can see that has advanced in the last 6 years as far as type 1 diabetes goes.  I am thrilled to have my insulin pump that’s for sure.  The loop has not been closed & I have chosen not to wear a continuous glucose monitor for personal reasons.  I know one thing for sure & that is that if a major breakthrough in type 1 is found, I will know about it at once because I belong to a number of wonderful type 1 support groups & news travels fast…good news even faster.

When it comes to statistics, I will confess that I am not crazy about analyzing numbers.  My barometer of common sense begins to get quite heightened if I see studies that appear to be manipulated or have not considered the basics.  What I am more interested in & frankly absolutely care about is people & not numbers.  When we are diagnosed with type 1 we get cast into a world of numbers 24-7.  There is the carb counting & the insulin to carb ratio & our bolus & basal & how about sick day management & exercise ratio & hormone ratio & stress ratio & on & on & on.  When I look at a cookie I see the number 15 on it.  Then if we are interested as well in calories, then we layer on another level of numbers.  Speaking of numbers & percentages, at the end of April, I go to my next appointment to find out the dreaded A1C number & a point here or there matters.  It feels every time quite equivalent to driving that day to see what my poli sci mark was.  The last three results (18 months) I have had that D- feeling all over again.  This April, I am determined to break through & get an under 7%.  The difference between a 6.9% & a 7.2% to me is a big deal.  Each one of us are beautiful originals so we each work with our endocrinologist to determine the  A1C goal for ourselves.  The thing is that I have seen an “A” or for me one gorgeous 6.1% A1C in the past & several 6.8% over the past 6 years so I know I can do it again.

From time to time each one of us hears the statement, “what are the chances of that?”  It could be in reference to something wonderful or something awful.  A case in point is that when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an adult over 30 years old, my first endo automatically said that the chances were small that this would happen.  That of course got my brain wondering what the chances were even though a voice inside me at the same time was yelling at me that the statistics did not really matter because the reality remained unchanged.  Basically I was told that there is only a 10% chance of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes & then within this 10% the chances of being diagnosed with it as an adult were very low.  Since I could not land on a percentage, I viewed the situation as a D- for a little while.  Then I decided that was not serving my attitude well so I made many changes to my thinking & got my old self back at least spiritually or on a soul level.  I do what I can regarding the physical side of type 1 to do my very best yet I do not award myself any percentages or grades anymore.  If I know that I am doing my very best then the results are what they are.

Just out of curiosity this morning I decided to do a little bit of information gathering & see if there are any new insights into why type 1 is on the rise & to see if there are any more advancements on causes of type 1.  Vividly, I remember reading over 6 years ago that perhaps nitrates, cow’s milk at a young age, viruses and environmental were causes of type 1.  Today, I read basically the same possibilities & the same conclusions being that frankly the scientists remain unsure as to the causes of type 1 diabetes.  That brings me full circle back to thinking that I will stick with the view of if there really is something new, I will hear about it through other friends with type 1 diabetes as well as my endo.

What really got me thinking about 1% & the significance of a small number is something that I have been battling for 3 years now.  For the past 3 years I have had brutal abdominal pains.  Lots of medical tests have been done & I have found out what I don’t have so far but not what I do have.  The thing is though that over a year ago I went onto a new prescription for the abdominal woes & I got worse & worse & worse until last week the pain was so unbelievable that I went back to my doctor & asked to be taken off of the prescription because I have been having additional problems on top of the problem I went initially to see about.  It is strange because about a month into initially taking the prescription I felt worse & my gut feeling (no pun intended) was that the prescription was giving me side effects.  I had asked about this & was told that this was extremely unlikely.  Still, I thought that I would research the drug a wee bit further & see what side effects had been reported.  There it was in print, there was a 1% chance of the side effects that I was experiencing.  Still, I thought, it is unlikely that I would be in that 1% so I continued taking the prescription for over a year until last week.  After a few days, the side effects started to go away.  I still of course have the original problem which I have a myriad of medical tests to undergo in the coming weeks however the additional physical problems that I attribute to the prescription have subsided.  I am reminded that I should have listened to my intuition.  When my body tells me something, I should listen whether there is a 1% chance or at 95% chance.  I am determined to find out what the actual diagnosis is for the abdominal troubles that have plagued me over the past 3 years.  In the back of my mind I wonder if these are compliments of type 1 diabetes as well.  The list is getting longer yet I am thankful that as far as the very major complications, so far, so good.  Throughout it all the one thing that does not become a number or a statistic is my attitude towards physical challenges or other life challenges.  I am still playing the song by Chumbawamba really loudly on the especially challenging days…you know the chorus, “I get knocked down but I get up again!”  That’s my short term plan & that is my long term plan.

Bigger than that, we are not our numbers or any other number.  Numbers are numbers yet people are so much more…incomparable really. 

My heart’s hope for you is that the number that makes you smile the brightest is the number of new friends you make each & every year.

Smiles, Saundie :)

Have a beautiful week & see you next Monday for the next blog sharing :)