The Snowflake Factor

It takes different diabetes math for each person with diabetes.

Scott K. JohnsonBy Scott Johnson

March 2007 — It is said that no two snowflakes are the same. Each and every snowflake has its own unique pattern and design, separating it from all other snowflakes. It is individual and special.

Living in Minnesota (MinneSNOWta?), I have plenty of exposure to snowflakes. It is interesting when I take the time to appreciate the beauty of these snowflakes. It is often hard to single out and inspect a single snowflake, but sometimes when I wear a dark coat while it snows, I can see each flake as it lands on the dark background. It can be very beautiful. It is amazing that each and every snowflake is different, even though there are so many! It is mind-blowing!

People are as individual as snowflakes. We are all different. Even in the case of twins, where the physical makeup starts off the same, the personalities and life experiences make them different.

Diabetes is also a very individual thing to deal with. What works well for one person does not necessarily work well for another. There are no easy equations or formulas that can be widely applied to all patients, guaranteeing a positive outcome. Sure, we have things like the insulin-to-carb ratios and correction factors. But even in those cases, we have to apply those general principals to our unique situation and make the rest up as we go along.

That is not always an easy task.

It takes an unusual amount of understanding of these principals, knowledge about the different variables and factors that can affect the outcomes of tests, and an extreme amount of determination to work through all of these situations and find the values that work for you.

Your care team can help by giving ideas about where to start, and what has worked for others – but figuring out all of the specifics falls on your shoulders. Finding the magic numbers that work is no easy task, but it can and must be done.

Given the atmosphere that most of us experience with the doctors and other health care professionals (having a short 10 or 15 minutes with the specialist), how can we possibly get all of the knowledge and motivation to push through all of the challenges?

It's no wonder we can get so frustrated with it all!

Living with diabetes is a demanding job, and it requires us to take charge of our situations and work through the obstacles. We have to dig deep to find the motivation and energy to keep going with it all. Often times that means finding other resources to help us learn and give us ideas for solutions for things that are troubling us.

The rewards of finding these solutions are immense, and the penalties of failing to do so are steep. It often feels hard to muster up the strength to work it all out.

It would be easy if our endocrinologist could tell us exactly what numbers to apply, what ratios to use, and when. But we are all snowflakes, as individual and unique as can be.

While that can be seen as a challenge when working through the "diabetes math," it is also what makes us who we are. We are all individual and special.

Visit Scott's blog.

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.



Last Modified Date: June 12, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Well maybe not so much a furor as a controversy. The question, bluntly put, is whether or not a single HbA1c reading should be sufficient and adequate to diagnose diabetes — and whether the conditions under which the test was conducted should have any bearing on the diagnostic or non-diagnostic value of the test. The lede from
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