One Plus One Does Not Always Equal Two

I have come to the conclusion after living with type 1 diabetes for so many years, and more than a decade speaking with and listening to the stories of hundreds and hundreds of people living with diabetes in all its forms, that in diabetes, 1+1 does not always = 2.

If you listen to the often well meaning folk who tell you diabetes is a simple equation, you will be greatly misled and sadly suffering guilt, frustration and all sorts of other hard stuff, on the days when this equation is blown out of the water.

As far as I can see, this is particularly so for those of us living with type 1 diabetes but I also know my lovely type 2 friends and family who have these days.

I once asked my Endocrinologist about this and in his words it is because “insulin is an imprecise science”. The bottom line is that thanks to the amazing Banting and Best we now have insulin. Thanks to all of the wonderful researchers and pharmaceutical companies developing better types of insulin all the time and better ways of delivering insulin, we now have better quality of life. But – this does not a pancreas make.

You know those days. The ones where you wake up and for no reason known to diabetic kind the meter, one of your best and most hated friends, beeps and says “20 mmol” (360 mg/dl) . The days where you do exactly the same as any other day yet suffer a number of hypos. The days where you swing from one extreme to the other. The days where you want to throw in the towel, have a time out, turn into someone else, run away, or simply scream.

These are the days where a good friend in the DOC (diabetes online community) can really be your saviour.

Often there are reasons. Reasons such as hormones, stress, a virus coming on, a bad night’s sleep, delayed emptying of food into the blood stream, a dodgy injection or pump site, insulin that is off, old or the cloudy type insulin’s that are dodgy in how much you actually absorb each time you inject, varying levels of activity, the time of day, how long you have had diabetes, a guesstimation of carbs in the meal you ate because nobody ( and I have experimented with this at conferences with a table full of diabetes educators and dietitians) could possibly tell exactly how much carbohydrate was in the meal you just ate, an over bolus because you were sure the last time you ate this your blood glucose went up, forgetting to take insulin or not taking enough, excitement, your age, the weather, because it’s Thursday.

Oh yes there are often reasons, but they can be reasons that are impossible to find or understand – or simply the biggest reason of all – injecting insulin is not a substitute for the amazing way the human body runs things.

So that is all. Some days are diamonds – you know the ones where you wake up with a blood glucose of 4 mmol (72 mg/dl) and all the decisions you make about food, exercise, activity levels, which way to go to work, how much to have for lunch and what pair of shoes you want to buy – all fall into place and you have a smooth ride. Other days? These are the dog days. The ones where you wake up high and spend the day chasing your tail, up and down, until you are shattered, angry and sad, all at the same time.

If you are having a dog day today try to hang on to the fact that there are others of us out here having one right alongside you. And, who knows, tomorrow might be a diamond day. Just depends on whether the diabetes fairy decides to sprinkle her blood sugar dust on you while you sleep.




  1. Helene Wild on May 4, 2012 at 8:45 am

    thanks Helen 🙂

    • Helen Edwards on May 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Hi Helene thank you for reading! 🙂

  2. Kerryn Shrimpton on May 4, 2012 at 8:51 am

    What a great read – thanks

    • Helen Edwards on May 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Thanks Kerryn 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Ben on May 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for that Helen, know the feeling quite often and cannot work ouy why, why why.

    • Helen Edwards on May 7, 2012 at 6:48 am

      it is good to know lots of us have those days!! Makes it easier to handle 🙂

  4. Jacinta on June 18, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Reading this blog made me feel almost normal again. Knowing that my BSL is simply a number and yet how it can also make me feel so many different things in such a short space of time. Thank you so very much!! 😀

    • Helen Edwards on June 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

      you are welcome! 🙂 glad it had that impact