20/20 Hindsight

20/20 hindsight is a saying often used to express the idea that if I would have had then the information I have now, I may have taken a different course or made a different decision.

I think that most everyone, to a degree, lives their life like that – using past experiences to help color their opinions or influence their decisions for situations at hand.

For a person living with type 1 diabetes, this phrase can take on a whole new meaning. The basic idea is the same, but it is magnified a million-fold. Not so much the concept of it, but rather the number of times through the day the concept is used.

Chess board with some moves displayed by lines and arrowsHow many times during the course of an average day, are we presented with a scenario where we don’t know exactly what to do? Some mix of recently passed events (food, insulin or exercise), current state of things (stress, etc) and anticipated events.

Our recently passed events and anticipated events may also be strongly influenced by unproven theories. Ideas like “I’ve been high a lot today – is my infusion set working right?” or “my blood sugar is being ‘stubborn’ today”.

Now, if we are being attentive, we can make our best guess (that’s really all it is sometimes, right?) and see how things turn out. Storing that scenario with all it’s variables, and looking to draw upon it and it’s outcome the next time we run into something similar.

In one aspect, that is how life in general is – it’s not much different for us, except that we have, quite literally, tens of thousands more “things” to store and remember each and every day.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the synaptic connections for all of that. Sometimes I just simply don’t have the capacity to remember how a particular situation worked out – even if it’s one I’ve been in time and time again.

I feel a bit dim-witted when I am in a “spot” like that. Recognizing (again) that I’ve been here (in this scenario) before (again). Not having the slightest clue on exactly what to do, and feeling uncomfortably familiar with that feeling. Why don’t I remember what I did last time? How come I can’t remember if what I did last time turned out good or not so good? I know it was not a disaster – because that I would remember for sure (right?).

Then, however the situation works out this time, I have that “20/20 Hindsight” thing going on. “Well, maybe I shouldn’t have had that last juice” or “I really should have eaten more for lunch” or “back off/ramp up on the insulin next time”.

If I had the information then that I do now, I might have made a different decision or taken a different action.

But we manage to do pretty good most of the time. I don’t know how. Maybe because we are constantly and continuously put into these scenarios all the time.

What if we tried to document all of the factors in those scenarios, the actions we took (or didn’t take) and the outcome?

And what good is documentation if you don’t reference it to help you as you encounter similar situations through the course of the day.

Let’s literally imagine such a system. What would it look like? How would we record that information? How would we reference it? Do you have different “time points”? One hour post scenario, two hours post scenario, three hours post scenario, etc.

Where would we store it all?! There’s no building big enough – and that’s just me! And think about the growth rate!!

And what kind of cross reference system would have to be in place? How in the world would you find anything? Do you “red flag” those that didn’t work well – or worked very well?

Let’s see – I’ve got three components from scenario S-47563.876567, with a sprinkling of things from scenario S-27364.776453. I need an outcome at the two hour post scenario mark similar to O-47532.774987 because I’ll then be doing something like S-11234.982245. At the end of the day I need to end up with an outcome of O-ALL.GOOD with no occurrences of O-OH.SHIT outcomes. Ok, got all that? So, what exactly should I do now?

It is, honestly, pretty impressive that we are able to do as well as we do.

Sure we get burned out and frustrated sometimes, but is it any wonder when you think about everything that’s constantly swimming around our mind?

And on top of all that, we somehow find the capacity to live mostly successful lives too.

We are simply amazing.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…