I’ve been playing basketball at the YMCA for a little less than three years now. It’s great fun, even better exercise, and I’ve gotten to know many of the guys that come down to play ball.
There is one guy there who does some work in type 1 diabetes research. I’m not very clear on the details, but this guy is brilliantly smart and his work has something to do with islet cell transplants. He’s the kind of guy that you enjoy playing with or against. Good sportsmanship and a hard work ethic.
I feel very good having someone in the gym who knows more than the average person about diabetes. I trust that he can and will help me if I get into trouble with a low blood sugar that I can’t treat myself.
In between games today (yes, my foot is mostly better) we had a chance to talk for a few minutes. He asked me what my blood sugar was and I showed him my log (i.e. a yellow “post-it” note). I was very happy with a nice steady 155 mg/dl. Over an hour earlier I was at 145 mg/dl. With intense full court basketball in between those tests I felt it was a day I could mark in the “Victory” column!
This guy looks at it, sees my 155 mg/dl, and says “that’s a bit elevated isn’t it?”.
Can you imagine the look in my face? A slight shock and confusion, mixed with annoyance and uncertainty.
I guess I took it for granted that this guy would know a little more about how diabetes works in real life. Now my initial impressions were shaken a little bit.
Any other type 1 diabetic on the planet would have given me a high five for keeping my shit so steady during such intense exercise!
As I start to recover, remembering that this guys experience with diabetes comes from a laboratory and not from real life, I try my best to explain that during exercise like basketball I am perfectly fine having a little “fudge room” with my blood sugar, otherwise the exercise would make me go too low.
I fully understand (and agree) that my performance, both physical and mental, is better with a perfect 85 mg/dl blood sugar. But my experience has taught me that no matter how perfectly I balance all of the ingredients (planned breakfast, basal rate adjustments, sport shake beforehand, strategic sips of Gatorade during exercise, etc.) the recipe does not always yield a stable blood sugar that is so close to the low range, especially during exercise (which is impossible to quantify).
Many days I play basketball I am happy to walk off the court on my own two feet without experiencing any play stopping lows. I’d rather be high than too low.
Book diabetes and real life diabetes are so different aren’t they? I hope I was at least able to give him a glimpse into how diabetes affects my life.