Buying Time

Every hour in control means a healthier future.

Scott K. JohnsonBy Scott Johnson

August 2008 — I've been thinking a lot lately about buying time. I realized this one afternoon when I finished working on a project around the house.

I was in between projects and had a choice to make: I could either find something to do that involved food (my usual "downtime" activity), or find something to do that didn't involve food. My blood sugar was great, and had been steady for the past couple of hours.

I thought that if I could just find something to do for a while that wouldn't affect my blood sugar (much) I will have "bought" myself a few more hours in the target range. Spending time in the target range means I'm doing good things for my health.

I found that it was easier to make a healthy choice there because I didn't look at it as some huge decision, but rather a single, small choice that would buy me a little more time near my target blood sugar. It was not a "good" or "bad" judgment. I didn't "succeed" or "fail." I just wanted a little more time in range.

This can be applied to so many situations, especially with diabetes, where both timing and food are so important.

When my blood sugar is high, I need time without food to let my insulin start working (and ideally getting me back down to target). Sometimes this can seem to take SO long. In reality, most of the time it is a matter of hours. Sure, it depends on many things - why am I high, is my infusion site working properly, etc. - but without any real compromising circumstances, it is usually hours before my blood sugar drops back into range. If I can find something that will keep my mind off of that high blood sugar, the time will seem to go by much faster and I can get on with life. Often times a nice little nap would fit the bill here. Unfortunately I don't live a life that allows spontaneous naps whenever I feel like it! I usually need to find some sort of activity here. Getting up and walking might be the perfect thing. That would help pass the time AND lower my blood sugar! If I can't get outside maybe I can try a brisk walk around the office.

When my blood sugar is low, I need time to let my treatment bring me back up without going crazy with food. The timeframe here is very unique because even though it's just a few minutes, those minutes can often feel like the longest timespan in the world. Your every cell is screaming bloody murder, and the one thing that will fix it is FOOD! But I think we all know what happens if you give in to those instincts to shovel food into your face – you can end up going from low to high in a matter of minutes. Maybe finding some sort of breathing exercise or some other self-centering exercise will help me get through it. This is a tough one to balance though, and I think it will take a combination of techniques to find a solution that works. I also need to recognize that sometimes these low blood sugars affect my brain, which may make it hard to think straight. I'll work to be more forgiving of myself in those cases.

If I want an A1C in a certain range I need to buy that one day at a time. I can buy those days by buying hours. I can buy those hours by buying minutes. Small decisions can add up to bigger payoffs, and those same small decisions quickly build up some positive momentum. Instead of going down the path of perfectionism and right or wrong, I am going to try looking at each decision in terms of earning more time with my blood sugar in range.

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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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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