I’ve heard the world “normal” creep into my every day conversations more recently. What is “normal” anyway?
For example, I’ve stumped Medtronic and my CDE over the issues I’ve been having with my CGM. My attempts to get answers are usually met with blanks stares and question marks. It appears my sensor only works when it feels it’s convenient. (Yes, I’m convinced it has a mind of its own.) Switching out the entire pump mechanism didn’t seem to improve the situation very much. My sensors still peter out after 3 days and never seem to fully be in line with what I’m seeing on my meter. “Oh! Maybe you need to be retrained on how to insert a sensor. Or maybe it’s a bad box of sensors? Or maybe the sensor is bad too? We have no idea! We know you are frustrated with all of this… but rest assured, this isn’t normal.”
Well, what about the fact that I still continue to drop from a meal bolus nearly 4 hours later? “Oh, that can’t be right. It’s not normal to continue dropping from a meal bolus that late. It must be something else.”
Or how about that my postprandial readings are still not “pregnancy ready” even after attempting to alter my diet, insulin distribution, and so forth? “Well, maybe you just aren’t normal, Jen. Nobody said you had to be perfect.”
So what is normal?
I like looking at stock photography on diabetes products to figure out what normal should be for me.
Perhaps it’s the perfect blood sugar found on just about every One Touch meter box.
We’re all familiar with that one right? Trying to catch that famous reading is like trying to catch a butterfly on speed. Somehow, I snagged it. It’s here for all to admire. However, 104 is actually a high fasting reading. So is this really normal? Or a fancy way of saying you should be averaging this?
Or take a look at the collateral I got with my CGM.
See. Even you can enjoy happy, stress free relationships if you use this product. All diabetics will come away smiling while enjoying a walk on a sunny day. Nevermind that you are relying on a battery powered device to keep you smiling, happy, and alive. Being connected 24/7 probably doesn’t appear normal to most, but we should think we will still be classified as normal if we use these products. (Whipping out syringes in public is also probably not considered normal.)
My personal favorite stock image is on my sensor box.
Because everyone using a CGM can totally eat carrot cake dressed in white while sitting on a white couch. You can totally lead a normal life until the sensor starts beeping at you because that carrot cake has a high enough GI to send you beyond your happy zone. (Also… who actually LIKES carrot cake?!)
This is probably a more accurate depiction of my normal.
Okay, maybe it’s not all numbers, data, and prescriptions. I still have this.
So as we PWDs all strive for some sort of average “normalcy,” maybe it’s just easier to think that there is no normal. Alternatively, my favorite dancer from So You Think You Can Dance, Mark Kanemura, was once quoted on tour saying, “I tried to be normal but it really didn’t work for me.”
Not all of us will be able to enjoy that carrot cake without some sort of repercussion. (Though, if you enjoy eating it, by all means.) Not all of us will dance around in rhinestones and spandex either. My insulin issues, disdain for carrot cake and my obsession for glitter are what make my reality. The tricky part is not wanting to compare yourself, and your data, in an effort to seek out someone else’s normal.