Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Airplane Analogy

Scott Hanselman has come up with a very interesting way to educate folks about what living with diabetes is like.

In brief, his analogy goes something like this:
You are flying from L.A. to New York. You have to maintain a consistent altitude the whole way.

Food raises blood sugar (altitude.) Insulin lowers it. Non-diabetics don’t have to think about altitude, as you all have a working pancreas (autopilot) and don’t sweat altitude. Diabetics, on the other hand, have to constantly wonder if they are at a safe altitude. Staying at a consistently high altitude (high blood sugar) will eventually make you sick; while a low altitude (low blood sugar) will kill you quickly.

Here’s where the analogy gets interesting. Remember in the analogy we are flying from L.A. to New York, except we only get to check our altitude seven times. And, we only get to change altitude (take insulin) less than ten times. But, when I check my blood sugar, I’m actually seeing the past. I’m seeing a reading of what my blood sugar was 15 minutes ago. And, when I take insulin, it doesn’t start lowering my blood sugar for at least 30 minutes.

Now, imagine yourself in that plane with an altimeter that shows you the altitude 15 minutes in the past, and a yoke that changes the altitude – but when you press on the yoke, your altitude won’t change for a half-hour. It would be a challenging trip.

Click here to read the entire "airplane analogy."

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