Last week I had the opportunity to volunteer at a community event taking blood pressures of the interested passerbys. There were those that volunteered readily to have their blood pressure taken, those that were bullied into it by their spouses or loved ones, and then those who simply said, “I don’t want to know.”
To them I smiled and said, “Knowledge is power! Don’t be afraid of the numbers, they are exactly what you need to give yourself peace of mind, or design a customized care plan with your doctor.”
(Psst…. Thanks, Diabetes.)
A lot of the time, my pleas worked.
I had a few gentlemen with blood pressures so high I wondered how they weren’t having a heart attack right then and there. They gave various excuses for the high numbers, and tried to wave each number aside as a fluke.
For each, I wrote the number on a piece of paper and said, “This number all by itself isn’t harmful. It’s the ignoring the number that can be harmful. I don’t think it would hurt to talk to your doctor, or even go into a CVS, and recheck your blood pressure when you feel more relaxed to follow up on this number. High blood pressure is fixable, but only if you act on it.”
(Psst…. Thanks, Diabetes.)
Even though I’ve been taught in class that these men must surely be facing eminent death before they hit the parking garage, my experience with blood sugars has taught me that the alarmist technique is never the best one. A 410 blood sugar to any health professional other than my endocrinologist must seem like a ticking time bomb, but in the real world, I know better.
If I can teach anything to my teenagers, --and trust me, I don’t have high expectations on this front-- but if I could teach them anything, it would be that exact same principle: A high number isn’t harmful. Ignoring the high number is.
Tonight, two of my boys forgot to bolus for their dinners. (I don’t’ know if forgot was the right word, because I asked them to, but regardless,) I have two boys that went to bed an hour ago with 400 blood sugars, which trust me, I know isn’t ideal…
They checked, and they fixed it. That is what’s important. Part of me hates that the numbers don’t faze them, and another part of me revels in the fact that they do test, and they can fix it and forget it, without the guilt and the anger attached to it. There’s a fine line to it all…I don’t know where we land, or how I should really feel, but for now I’ll take into account that they are trying, and that’s satisfying.
I don’t ever want them to be afraid of testing.
When they are going to do something every day/all day, anger and guilt need to be left out of it. I have discussions with them about their body systems, and how high blood sugars aren’t ideal and can cause lasting issues in the future. Just like anything in life, decisions you make now are always more far reaching than we think. "Consequences to our choices" is always a hot topic in this house. They get it, but they also get that attaching emotion to a number is fruitless.
Because no matter what the number, it is a blessing. Knowing what to do next is a priceless gift that I never take for granted.
Knowledge is power. Saying, “I don’t want to know” usually means there is a problem that one is ignoring.
I always want to know.
Even if it is 400mg/dl.