Today I had Part I of my (annual) diabetes check. The nurse just took some blood to have analysed, so the visit was only long enough to get a sample.
It’s all in preparation for a further meeting on Friday, when the nurse will have the results in front of her.
I pride myself in being quite hands-on these days in terms of my health, and so of course I have a view on what I want to know and what I’m not fussed about.
HBA1C is really the headline value for diabetics, and is well-known. It is glycerated haemoglobin (sugar in red blood cells). This value extrapolates to an average of your entire blood sugar during the last couple of months. Ironically, I’m not too interested in this. I test my blood sugar directly every day with a glucometer, I store every result on the computer, so I know exactly how my blood sugar has been behaving over the last couple of months. No averages required.
One of the things I am interested in, however, is my cholesterol, simply because during my stroke-stay in hospital, I was put onto completely fresh meds, and this included a statin. Just from the perspective of wanting to take as few meds as possible, I’d like to see how it is performing with a view to getting rid. On the other hand, however, the stroke has made me far less active, so maybe I need some help over-and-above diet?
The second particular thing I’m interested in is my level of potassium. During this med-change, I was put on a BP medicine which was also known to reduce potassium. But I wasn’t told this. I wasn’t even told to get a blood test in a few months to make sure that everything was OK. I happened to request a blood test, entirely of my own initiative, about 3 months after the stroke visit. Lo and behold, low potassium! And we found it totally by accident! So this led to a second stay in hospital, right about the time of the Brexit referendum.
So, you know when I’m critical of doctors? Well, this is a big reason.
The upshot from the hospital visit was to change the med to another. This one was known to have the opposite side effect, that of raising my potassium beyond what is considered safe. But in fairness to that particular doctor, he did warn me about this at the time. So I keep tabs on my potassium ever since, certainly for the first six months or so, I requested a couple of blood tests specifically to find this. So now, if I’m having a test anyway, I always ask them to measure my electrolytes (which are the salts in the blood, and include potassium). No side effects seen to date.
The visit was also an opportunity tomeet the new (<1yr) nurse, who seems lovely. It possibly helps that she knows my wife, who, of course, is also a nurse in a doctor's surgery.