For work, I signed up to a new healthcare app that would magically and algorithmically measure my health. Health apps frequently annoy the bejeezus out of me. You can tell the ones that have never met a real person and that the boffin who is developing the app lives a lonely life in a cave without regular contact with anything with heartbeat. (Shout out five million to my fave app, MySugr, because it is developed BY people with diabetes FOR people with diabetes so it, you know, works.)
Anyway, to sign up for this one, I had to fill in a few details about my health and wellbeing and then I got a final health score. It was pretty thorough. I added things like my most recent blood pressure, cholesterol reading, height, weight, food (which, despite ridiculously frequent mentions of cupcakes and doughnuts on this blog is mostly fresh, home-cooked and healthy), exercise (ha!) and health conditions. I ticked the ‘no’ box for every single one of those, except, of course, type 1 diabetes.
My overall score came back at 65%. I then was given a list of measures that I could take to increase my health, most of which I already do (other than exercising to which I am a conscientious objector).
I decided to test this little app and re-entered all my data with one little change. This time, I ticked the ‘no’ box for every single health condition.
The magic little algorithm spat out a new result. Suddenly, I was now 90% healthy. The suggestions to improve this number focused solely on doing more some exercise.
So, here’s the question. Am I significantly less healthy because I have type 1 diabetes?
My answer to that question is no. When I consider the level of attention I give to my health today as compared with before being diagnosed with diabetes, I would say that I am a lot more in tune and interested in my health now. I couldn’t tell you what my blood pressure or cholesterol was before I was diagnosed. Can now! I have regular check-ups and screening for things that probably would have slipped under the radar before.
And when I think about friends the same age as me – an age where we start to be reminded of the sorts of things about which we might want to speak with our doctor – I know that I definitely more on the ball than most of them.
Perhaps I have had to reshape what being healthy really means. Maybe pre-diagnosis I would have considered needing to medicate myself each and every day while monitoring my health closely would equal being unhealthy. But that’s not how I think. I think that I am healthy – and part of that is because I do those things. I am not ‘healthy even though I have diabetes.’ I am just … ‘healthy’.
Am I in denial? Have I rewritten what healthy means to accommodate my health condition?
Or is it true. I am healthy. And sure, I could be healthier, but that has to do with laziness and I don’t mean the laziness of my beta cells.