Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweet Life, Glycosylated life....

I once did a post after finding out that our brains were organized like cities. Ever since then, I have been looking for correspondences between how our bodies handle things and the way we live in day to day life.

I know several folks who get their blood sugar done on a regular basis. Say every 3-6 months, depending on what they are advised. Of course, age often colors the attitude with which you regard the diabetes. Fasting and post-prandial (after meals ) blood sugar values, are often the magic numbers that decide your future.

I know folks who couldn't care about the numbers, then some who excessively worry, and some smart people, who kind of eat sparingly a couple of days before the test, and lay off biryanis and paranthas in anticipation. Suddenly, decent values appear on a test, the doctor nods, and folks are back to careless imbibing of stuff, some of it of the careless liquid hydrocarbon type.

The thing to do, it seems is a test called HbA1C. Something that proves that although today you may be the role model for folks, its your history that counts.

HbA1C, also known as "glycosylated haemoglobin" has something to do with the affinity between the haemoglobin molecule and glucose. Your red blood cell, contains a molecule of haemoglobin. The glucose in your bloodstream, attaches itself to this, forming what we refer to as HbA1C.

The interesting part, is that the red blood cells, stick around for 8-12 weeks before they are replaced by new ones, and if a test is done to ascertain the number of glycosylated haemobglobin molecules as a percentage of the total no of red blood cells, then at any given time, it tells how controlled your sugar levels were in the preceding 2-3 months (8-12 weeks). A normal non-diabetic HbA1C is 3.5-5.5%. In diabetes about 6.5% is good.

Sometimes, there are lessons in life that we can learn from this.

What you see on the surface , is often different from what goes on inside.

Like we have a Minister of the State Home Department. You would think that he wouldn't know the spelling of "C-R-I-M-E". But history has a way of happening, just like HBA1C. This Minister recently applied for a passport, no doubt to go on a government junket, and his image took a complete beating when it was revealed that he was being denied a passport because he had 19 criminal cases filed against him. Those little criminal molecules, holding on fast, and circulating, stealthily, in company with the prestige molecules......

Like the rich accomplished, presumably well educated, beautiful girl, who got engaged , as per her parents' express wishes, to someone I know, with what was considered "exemplary" pomp and show, and generated a feel-good sense all around, till it was found, that she was actually interested in someone else, was still in touch with him, and was going through all this only to ensure that her parents were pleased; unpleasant situations would be handled by the same parents later; money was never a problem. If only someone had checked out the attachment tendencies of molecules in her life....

Like the Alphonso mangoes this season, going today, for 200 Rs a dozen; and their historical activity, since coming off the trees over the last few weeks indicates, that these photo worthy royal fruits, have been forcibly ripened using calcium carbide, with scant regard for the fact that it is carcinogenic to humans. And some folks, like those who fudge their sugar situation with last minute pre test diet alterations, continue to mindlessly buy the fruit, because it is cheap and even gift it around. Sweetness and generosity, this instant is important; for all other times, there are always physicians and insulin.

Seeing similarities in life after observing how the human body handles things, is something I enjoy. I don't know if your DNA can code for such things, and whether you can have a gene that predisposes you towards such thinking.

Why talk of DNA's and genes ? Because I think the converse is possible. ....the application of real life situations to the understanding of human body actions....and not everyone is capable of it ....

My late parents -in-law were both diabetics since their 50's , and my son appeared on the scene when they were in their 70's. They were very very particular about managing their diabetes well, and had even won a medal from the Diabetic Association of India, for 25 years of managing their sugar levels very well.

There was often talk about diabetes, sugar levels, wearing footwear all the time, to protect against injuries to limb extremities and so on. ( I , a non-diabetic, never wear footwear in the house, and my son was aware of it.) Of course being a very young grandson , his grandma , whenever she came to stay with us, would indulge him, frequently making some delicious sweets at home, for which sugar syrup was always made, and he would watch....

I once heard him listening to his grandma about how injuries to diabetics, even from things like shoe bites, took a long time to heal. His face lit up. "But of course ! All those medicines you take for the injuries - imagine having to move through canals and canals of thick sugar syrup, naturally slowing the flow of blood ! No wonder the medication takes so long to reach the shoe bite place..... now I know why you must not have so much sugar in your blood ....!"

If there was anything like a reverse DNA , he had acquired it maternally.


  1. I love the way you link up biochemistry and real's all so true!

    As for the sugar syrup...hilarious! Kids hit the nail on the head very often!

  2. Beautiful co-relation of life's facts with the basics of science.

    A very sweet post sharing insight with an altogether different perspective :)

    Loved the little boys reply and the deep thought he'd put into it :)

  3. Enjoyed your medical-human analogies hugely. As an incipient diabetic - I have recently been diagnosed with slightly-high sugar levels - I was very interested and scared by your son's vivid comment.

    And, catching up on a lot of old posts, congratulations for the book you (will) receive from Blogadda. Like Kumble, your posts also have a fine balance - of wit and wisdom.

  4. Lovely, the way you have connected two completely different angles and found a reasoning to it...very much thoughts in one blog...

  5. Liked the way you found the link. :)

    HbA1C - A must to do from now on, I guess.

  6. Very true.. 'What you see on the surface , is often different from what goes on inside'.
    Loved the post.. so many thoughts interwoven and narrated so nicely!!

  7. A very interesting and informative post. Indeed , we can cheat the doctor but not to our own body, who does not forget things in a hurry.
    Loved the way you correlated many seemingly differnt issues .
    I am sure there is a reverse thinking gene, and it has been passed on to your son.

  8. Starry Thank you. The kids make it so simple to understand....:-)

    Chatterbox Thank you

    Sucharita Thank you... and not to worry, the son was always a bit dramatic as a child, (so was the daughter ). But you know, not to worry if you are marginally diabetic. They often first recommend diet control etc. Just wanted to say that cinnamon powder , 1 tsp taken daily , has been proven to help. See

    Sindhu Thank you

    UmaS Thank you, and HbA1C is useful for sure...

    softypinkngloriousred Thank you...

    Kirti Thank you...

  9. What a wonderful set of analogies!