Friday, 10 December 2010

Trial by HbA1c

Today was D-Day; it was HbA1c day. Some people seem to be able to sail through A1c blood tests with very little bother at all. They simply don't seem to mind blood tests, and know that the whole process of having blood taken is an integral part of managing diabetes. The results of the tests tell us diabetics and our health care providers, what the status quo is regarding our recent management. If the results are good, we have been able to keep the problems at bay for a little longer. If they are bad, we can take action.
I am not one of those people.
Don't get me wrong, the latter part of that paragraph is all very clear to me. The only reason I continue to put myself through the process of having tubes and tubes of blood taken, is because I KNOW they are the best way of knowing that everything is still OK.
However, to anyone who didn't know better, Anna at the clinic, waiting for her blood test to be done, is actually crack addict gagging for a fix.
I'll paint you a picture; There are about ten people there waiting patiently for their number to come up on the screen. No-one is causing a fuss, no-one is making a scene. Everyone is just there carrying out the wishes of their Doctor - getting their blood drawn . There is however, a girl sat in the corner, wearing baggy clothes (they make her feel more comfortable) and looking like she might throw up everywhere. She is shaking, twitching, sweating a little and looking as though at any minute she may bolt for the door.
This, is me. I have blogged in the past about the way in which I find blood tests thoroughly traumatic. And not just the result, which in the past has hardly been a reason for celebrating but actually, because the whole process makes me want to hurl.
The beauty of being a human is that we have fantastic foresight. We have this brilliant way of being able to predict the outcome if we make one, or even a series, of bad decisions. Granted, animals have a certain degree of foresight, seeing as you can train a dog not to chew the table and my cats have certainly learnt that as fun as it is, scrambling up the curtains, claws and all, will earn them a time out in the other room (their equivalent of the naughty step).
For this reason, we lock out car doors at night, we try to exercise and eat right, we don't shout abuse at our bosses, we don't buy £50,000 cars when we work in a fast food joint and we work late when we have a meeting the next day and need to get our papers straight. We make decisions every day based on our experiences and we use our gift of foresight to do this. For this reason I remain in line at clinic, twitching and shaking, just so that I can get those results, be they good or bad.
But as good as we are, we aren't perfect at realising what will happen in the future. If we were, diabetics would never eat sweets. They wouldn't drink, smoke or skip insulin shots as teenagers. They would do everything by the book. If we were able to use our foresight perfectly, no diabetic would ever get complications. We know that diabetics are ALL at risk of getting one of the many devastating complications that can eventually manifest themselves. And we know that any blood sugars above 'normal' range will cause that damage whether it is just the initial damage, or adding to what is already there. But it can be really hard to imagine what life would be like with those complications, whether or not we know someone who has one and whether or not we read the many books and Internet articles depicting life after the worst has happened.
That is why, when I think about a cure, it would be the lack of blood tests that would be one of the biggest benefits of no longer having this disease. Not for one second do I think that a blood test even compares to the real complications of diabetes. But the fact is, I have NO way of knowing how I would cope with a complication. I can't imagine the feeling if I was diagnosed with a further condition brought on by this disease. I can't say how I would manage day to day. I can't imagine what something like neuropathy feels like. I continue to respect the complications, which is why I wear a pump, why I exercise, why I try to be careful, and why I strive on a daily basis to achieve better control.
But I do know what blood tests 3 times a year feels like. I know how it feels to never win the battle against the test and wuss out in the waiting room. I know what it's like to need to take the day off because I will sporadically try to pass out during the rest of the day, because now and then I make the silly mistake of thinking about the experience I had earlier on.
Because of this and the fact that I have been lucky enough to avoid any complications up until now, the full blood count, HbA1C, triglyceride, cholesterol, thyroid, electrolyte, liver, kidney and creatinine blood tests will be the thing I would most like to wave goodbye to, should there ever be a cure.
Probably seems strange to some, but for me, the a1c is worse than the wearing of a computer, the daily finger blood tests and even the poor sugar days. For some reason, it just is.
What would you cheerily wave goodbye to, on the day this disease got the boot?


  1. re: Feeling squeamish/passing out during a blood test.

    I think I may have some good news for you. I recently had a blood draw and I passed out (at least I was helped to the floor by a nurse). Prior to that I felt sweaty, heart pounding hard, slight nausea (does this sound familiar?).

    Anyway the nurse tells me I have "Vasovagal Syncope". The vagus nerve, which conveys lots of sensory information to the central nervous system. For whatever reason (and for some people it is acute pain), the vagus nerve tells the blood vessels in the lower extremeties to DILATE. With all the blood pooling in your legs, your blood pressure drops, you get all of the bad symptoms, and you may pass out.

    The GREAT news is that if your feet are higher than your head (you are lying down), this does not happen. So this is maybe not a solution in the waiting room (or maybe it is), but certainly when you have to have a blood draw, do so lying down.


  2. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for sharing I had no idea! Will definately look into that

    Thanks again,