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Shift Your Paradigm

To be successful at Sugar Surfing requires us to make a fundamental change in how we visualize or conceptualize blood sugar levels.

Since the late-1970's, the concept of blood sugar measurement has been founded upon the collection of a single glucose value or 'level' from a sample of blood. Ironically, the term 'level' tends to promote a sense of stability. And this 'level' is collected at a single point in time, not over a period.

Interestingly, prior to the days of self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG), we used urine glucose measurements. When blood sugars rose above a certain level (usually 180 mg/dL [10 mmol/L], glucose would begin to ‘spill’ through the kidneys and into the urine. Urine glucose testing is called semi-quantitative' which means it isn’t very precise. At best, it gives a ballpark view of whether one’s sugar control over a short period was relatively acceptable or not. When the procedure was done properly and "by the book", urine glucose levels were meant to measure the sugar collected over a standard period, usually a half hour (a second voided sample). In daily practice, it rarely happened that way. The value was expressed as a number, but was usually better remembered by the color of the solution in the test tube, or on the end of a dipstick. As I’ve said before, colors were less judgmental so I felt less ‘bad’ when my urine check was orange (high) rather than blue (no sugar in the sample). Blue to did become my favorite color, but that could have been coincidental.

Children and some adults are prone to considering point in time blood sugar levels collected by a meter as static. One way to discover if this is true is by randomly asking your child or teen with diabetes what their blood sugar is about an hour or longer after a known BG check. Some might say "I don't know, the last time I (we) checked was a while back and it might have changed" whereas others might say "oh, it's (fill in the blank of the last known BG value)". The former answer reflects a more dynamic mindset whereas the latter is inherently static. If you or your kids think that blood sugar levels are generally unchanging over time, then your (and their) first step into the world of Sugar Surfing is to abandon the concept of static thinking.

Sugar Surfing is Dynamic Diabetes Management, also referred to as 'management in the moment". Embrace the idea that BG values are constantly drifting and fluxing, hopefully within acceptable boundaries. The forces that create this glucose ‘ebb and flow’ can be learned and in most cases tamed or even mastered. It requires applying the 3 VIRTUES: patience, consistency and resilience. These are well described in the book Sugar Surfing.

My point is that blood sugar levels are in constant motion. God designed it that way. As I have said times over the years: "the only person with a straight-line blood sugar is a dead person".

They say that once you master a foreign language, you are more likely to speak it in your dreams. Once you move away from the static concept of blood sugar values and into the dynamic world of flux and drift, a new mental universe of diabetes control options unfolds itself around you. The next step is to learn, practice and eventually master the art of Sugar Surfing as it applies to YOU or your loved ones. Many Sugar Surfing Ninjas are out there. We aim to build a worldwide colony and we are well underway. Your help is essential to success.

You see, as a Surf Ninja you are not just reacting to changing BG trends but creating them as well. Choices are what fuel Sugar Surfing. Make them often, make them wisely. Always learn more from your failures than your successes. And as your begin your journey, be patient. Aim small, miss small at first. Don’t allow minor setbacks to discourage you.

To enter the dynamic world of diabetes self-management, first abandon the static ways. Surf on!

Please share your stories about how you and your loved ones with diabetes imagine BG levels and when that change happened for you.

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