I was supposed to have my HbA1c checked in July. JULY. Nearly half a year ago, and bearing in mind that I need to get it checked every 12 months, that ain’t so cool. (If HbA1c means nothing to you, have a looksee here. Or here for the real, proper, accurate, non-rambling, non-Jen explanation). The whole point of me starting this blog once upon a time was to make sure I faced my diabetes head on, grabbed the insulin by the syringe and expose the bad as well as the good about life with the Big D. It was all booked for York hospital as per normal, and I was ready to trot off and get THAT number which – in some eyes – is the benchmark of good (or not so good) control.

Then life happened. In the space of seven days I’d gone from living in a teeny East Yorkshire village in rural bliss, to landing on my Dad’s doorstep 250 miles away, ready to take an unpaid trial week in London with absolutely no guarantees of any kind of job. This happened to occur the week before my HbA1c appointment, and it kind of went out of the window.

I’ve tried to justify this before, in that I know I take my diabetes very seriously these days, and had been recording good readings, had no deterioration in my retinopathy check and had generally been taking good care of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I drink wine, eat chocolate and could exercise more, but a crime to diabetes that ain’t. I may have diabetes, but I’m still human.

Four months on, and job, life, sanity all (loosely) in check, and I FINALLY got an appointment sorted. I had it done in a wee GP’s surgery in Basingstoke, and there may have been something about that that made me so much more blaze about it than normal. Normally, and irrationally may I add, I make sure I am IMMACULATE with my control in the few days leading up to having the bloods done, like it’s going to have some sort of miraculously dramatic impact on a reading that’s an average of about two months’ worth of sugar levels. And bearing in mind that I’ll do between 2 and 4 blood tests each day, depending on how busy/lazy/active/forgetful I’m being, whereas a HbA1c takes into account the sugar that’s storming through your blood 24/7. It’s COMPLETELY insane to get worked up about this, because as long as you’re trying as much as humanly possible, you know you’re not going to be slapped on the wrists like a naughty six-year-old.

The thing is, I HAVE been trying. When I was in the Northern rural idyll, during the week I spent at my mum’s, and the whole time I was commuting from Dad’s, I was pretty ace. With so much of my life up in the air I guess the diabetes was the one thing I could try and maintain a sense of normalcy with (I get the feeling I’ve said that before. Jen Grieves, fluent in cliché, people). Then I hit the city. BOOM. It seems that because the rest of my life (perhaps with the exception of the love life, but that’s probably a WHOLE other blog) is finally sorted, super-sized, bloody

-fantastically-ridiculously-full-o’fun, my diabetes is suffering as a result. Or so it seems to me, and we all know that our diabetes isn’t subtle if it’s feeling disgruntled.

Worse still, – or better, depending on how you look at this – more than a couple of my friends, keeping half an eye on my sad existence on Facebook, have noticed the slight upping in the Jen Does Playtime ante. An unfortunate combination of hangover-based status updates and slightly merry looking photos (What? It’s Christmas!) has led my dear friends to rightly believe I’ve been having a whale of a time since I landed. But with the partying really does come some, err… ‘questionable’ choices when it comes to our dear friend Type 1. The stomach-lining/hangover-soothing bread-based meals, for example. Or – and this one’s pretty special even by my standards – take for instance the night when, having finished a packet of Ramipril, I’d got another packet out of safekeeping and took one as per. But I must have been more than a little tipsy because it took me two whole nights of dosing to realize I hadn’t in fact got the Ramipril out at all, but my pill, which had changed packaging so looked different from the packet I was halfway through. So for two days I had in fact had no Ramipril whatsoever, but a double dose of (unnecessary) baby protection. Nice one Grieves.

Please don’t start to think I’m turning into some kind of crazy, out-of-control monstrosity of my former self. I’m really not. I’m just 24, and I’m just having FUN. It’s December, life is sweet, and I’m swanning about like Girl About Town because I can, and it makes me happy. Come January it’s going to subside, mostly due to the fact that my wage is not conducive to running around the city spending money like an asshole.

And my diabetes certainly hasn’t gone out the window to the extent it has done in previous years. I’ve learnt those lessons and I learned them hard. I’m still doing blood tests, even if the result doesn’t always please me as much. I’m still taking my insulin, even if I do need the odd higher dose than usual. But such is life, and unfortunately my diabetes has to come along for the ride.

So really, back to the small matter of the HbA1c, I should have been TERRIFIED going into the surgery, given a good solid few weeks of not-so-angelic behaviour. But I knew that for every gigantic hoummus and mushroom ciabatta I’d consumed with a carb count of about 6000, I’d made sure I’d had the insulin to match it. I knew for every carb-heavy meal I’d had, I’d made the next one carb-free. I’d somehow gone nuts while simultaneously keeping one eye on what was going on (even if that eye is sometimes squinting through a white wine haze).

My fears were further allayed when, upon walking into the Room of Doom to get my results, I was greeted by the kindliest looking nurse I’ve ever seen. First off, she was Irish, and I have a deep affection for the Irish (that, in some ridiculously warped way, may read as mildly offensive to god only knows who, but can I put a disclaimer in here now that I’m being genuinely serious, thanks), but THEN she said the following:

“Grieves… I know that surname… did you have a Granny called Amy?”

She knew my dear, beloved, amazing, wonder-woman of a Granny. There isn’t enough time, or words, to talk about how stupendous Granny Grieves was to me, but needless to say I unashamedly welled up when Shelagh (yep, we’re on first name terms now) came out with: “I can just picture her now, sitting where you’re sitting.”


I wanted to leap across the room and hug her at that point, so the following half-hour of prodding and poking was nothing to me; I was just sat floating in a fuzzy warm glow thinking about Granny G. My blood pressure was 125/75, a glorious reading if ever there was one. And then came the big moment, when I was snapped back to reality and the impending Number of Horror I was about to be slapped around the face with.

Shelagh: “Have you had your HbA1c result yet?”

Me (Slightly squeaky, apprehension setting in): “Noooo…”

So we both leaned in, peering at the computer screen, eyes squinting in an unquestionbly sober way as we looked for that little number, as I muttered to myself, breath baited: “Please be in the 7s, please be in the 7s…”

“Ah, there we are, dear,” my new best friend pointed at the screen.


55?!!!! What the hell does that mean? For a fleeting second I thought I’d gone completely off the scale and hit new heights of insane diabetes behaviour. Drinks, pizzas, potatoes, insulin – it all flashed before my eyes. But then I realised that if it was actually 55, I’d probably be dead.

“You know we’ve changed the measurements, don’t you dear?” I was asked.


So again; more anticipation, more build up, more tension as we made our way over to a very confusing-looking conversion chart and once again started our search for that elusive number.

It felt like eternity.

“Ah, there we are. 7.2”



Then I really DID want to leap over and hug her. 7 POINT BLOODY 2. The lowest reading I’ve had, in fact, since I hit college and got introduced to alcohol in the first place. So, maybe I’ll reap the effects of my antics next time, but for now I’m somehow a superstar diabetic, without actually being one at all.

Happy Christmas To Me.

And God Bless Granny G.


P.S. Happy Christmas to everyone in the whole wide world. Hope you have an amazing festive time – eat too much, drink too much, be merry, be happy and healthy. xx

Just a little something I prepared earlier...


2 comments on “HbA1PHEW

  1. Wonderful result Jen! I always love reading your blog 🙂

    Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  2. Merry Christmas to you too Alan 🙂

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