Numbers are Just Numbers

Numbers are just numbers. But, the way you think about numbers can affect your feelings. For example, many people think the number 13 is unlucky. There’s even a fancy term for people who are fearful of the number 13 – it’s called Triskaidekaphobia. But the number 13 can also mean something good.  For example, when you order 12 of something in a bakery, you usually get 13 of that item. That is known as a “baker’s dozen.” The point is that however you may feel about the number 13, it is only a number.

Blood Glucose Numbers

Let’s take a look at blood glucose numbers.  First, you need to know your target range.  The American Diabetes Association recommends a fasting blood glucose level of 70mg/dL to 130mg/dL, and 2 hours after meal – levels of less than 180mg/dL. (Children’s target ranges are usually a little higher.)

If your blood glucose is below 70mg/dL, then you have low blood glucose, also known as hypoglycemia. Your body and brain are starved for sugar. If your blood glucose is above 180mg/dL, you have high blood glucose. Your kidneys begin to “spill” sugar into the urine. Your blood glucose numbers provide information about whether or not your blood glucose is within your target range.

Blood glucose numbers are not “good” or “bad”. Some  people view their blood glucose readings as a judgment, especially when the numbers are not in their target range. Using words like “bad” or “undesirable” when thinking about your number can leave you feeling badly about yourself, guilty and discouraged.

Blood Glucose Readings are Just Numbers

This isn’t rocket science either: Blood glucose numbers are just numbers! They give you information which can help guide you in decision making as you manage your diabetes. Numbers below your target range need to be treated with fast-acting glucose. Numbers above your target range need to be brought down (  taking insulin and/or exercising).

It’s important that you don’t let your blood glucose numbers affect your self-esteem. Remember to think about your numbers as a way to gain information about your blood glucose levels. Do not look at your numbers as a way to label yourself as “good” or “bad.”

Putting Your Numbers In Perspective

Here’s my favorite example of putting your numbers into the right framework: what do you think of the number 104?  If it’s a grade on one of my children’s tests, then it’s great because it means they earned 100, plus extra credit! If it’s a body temperature, then it means you have a fever and you’re probably feeling lousy. If it’s a blood glucose number, then it means that your glucose level is within your target range.

The next time you check your blood glucose, remember that it’s only a number – and you are much more than a number.

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