I visited the diabetes clinic on Thursday and went through all the standard procedures – checked in with the receptionist, waited for the phlebotomist, got my bloods taken (there is something oddly satisfying about making it through a clinic visit without having to see any blood but also weird that my ear lobe is now being pricked), waited for the nurse, got my weight taken, waited for the doctor…and this is where I got a surprise.

I haven’t been the best diabetic in the world over the last few months mainly because I’m coming to the end of my PhD. This involves writing a thesis (about 200 pages). My thesis will include the research I’ve been working on over the past four years. I’m studying health economics and my thesis is looking at what influences food choices. For example, did you know we make an estimated 200 food choices each day? And I guess when each food choice involves carb counting and other diabetes related considerations, us diabetics make a lot more than 200!

Anyway, I haven’t been a good diabetic. I’m quite stressed as I’m working to a tight deadline, I’ve stopped playing football and do hardly any exercise because I’m spending nearly all my time in the office. This means I’m snacking a lot more in the office when I work late. Also, when I don’t work late, I feel tired in the evenings and pass the time in front of the television trying to unwind, which usually involves snacking on things I shouldn’t be eating! Over the last few months, I’ve also been testing less, usually only once or twice a day.

The only positive change I’ve made over the last few months is alcohol related. I decided at the end of February not to drink until I finish my PhD and I’ve surprised myself and my friends by sticking to my word. Usually, I’m a big fan of going for two or ten pints which is why it’s surprising that I have managed to stay away from it.

So, to summarise, I’ve stopped exercising and drinking alcohol, I eat a lot more snacks and don’t test as much. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting good news on the HbA1c front at the diabetes clinic appointment. When the doctor told me my HbA1c is now 60 (7.6%), the lowest it has ever been, I was surprised. As you can see from the graph (shout out to Mydiabetesmyway) above, I’ve never been good at this whole diabetes thing, but I have got better over the last few years.

Well done Liam, you’ve lowered your HbA1c…why is this not a good thing? I think it could be a bad thing because I’ve finally come to realise what people mean by diabetes taking over their life. I never understood this before because I never thought of diabetes as an excuse to stop me doing anything (except drinking bottles of Lucozade on a hangover). Right now, my PhD is consuming my life but I’m OK with that because it will be finished in a few months.

On the other hand, I’ve lowered my HbA1c by cutting out exercise and alcohol. Also, if I test more and stop snacking as much, I can probably lower it further. But I’m not sure what to do. Should I sacrifice things like alcohol to look after my diabetes? Should I let diabetes take over my life in order to be healthier?