Ignoring the variables we can control can be an accident waiting to happen.

Scott K. JohnsonBy Scott Johnson

July 2008 — It all started with a very routine infusion set change the night before. I woke up with a blood sugar of 178 mg/dl. It was a little elevated, but not terribly so. I took a correction bolus. An hour later my blood sugar had gone up, even though I didn't have anything to eat. I was frustrated, and because I've struggled with highs after infusion set changes before, I pulled the trigger on a rage bolus (taking more insulin than necessary just to get my blood sugar down). I figured that would do the trick and push me through it.

Another two hours went by and my blood sugar had not budged. Feeling even more frustrated, I took another rage bolus.

I started dropping (rapidly) right as I started eating lunch. I was really worried that my food would not hit my blood sugar fast enough and that I would have a low blood sugar that I was not able to treat on my own. Fortunately, it worked out fine – but it was way too close.

Around 8:00 pm that night I did a mini mental review of the day that just passed and I thought about how reckless I had been. I thought about how easy it would have been for something to have turned badly. I felt a bit lucky for making it through unscathed, and stupid for making the choices I did.

When I was growing up I was forbidden to ride on any sort of two-wheeled motorized vehicle. My mom, a career nurse, spent some time in the emergency room. She saw enough motorcycle and scooter accident victims that she would simply not let her family on them!

I thought about the day I had and how similar it was to me zipping around on a motorcycle, with no helmet, one eye closed, and going three times the speed limit while doing stunts and tricks. Compare this to driving a car, wearing my seatbelt, driving cautiously and defensively, and obeying all traffic laws. You can certainly get in a bad accident either way. Sometimes no matter how careful you are, things happen that are out of your control. But which scenario is most likely to get you in trouble?

With type 1 diabetes, there are factors that are out of my control. Many things make my blood sugar go up or down, either directly or by subtle influence, that I don't even know about - much less have control over. What about the things that I can control one day but can't reign in the next? But how much sense does it make to surrender the things I CAN control (like the amount of insulin I take or blatantly ignoring my pump calculations)? That is a foolish thing to do and a recipe for disaster.

When I am frustrated, I allow my frustration to cloud my judgment and lead me into some rash actions that could have caused me some really big problems.

I think that is very normal for us who have to fight and scrape for every minute of every day to deal with frustration. But in order to come out on top, even if just for that day, I have to learn to think bigger than that. I have to learn to control (or at least influence) the things I can, and not let the rest of it pull me down.

Like everything else in life, our experiences teach us lessons for living. Now I just need to pay attention to them!

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 11, 2013

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

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