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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

An Engineering Degree and Diabetes

I was always top of the maths class in school, it was just one of those things I was naturally good at. Maths comes easy to me. When I went on to study Engineering at University I would sit through first principles lectures getting frustrated with the Professor or Dr writing on the board.

There is no way you are going to be able to solve that equation, you've got that wrong, start again.

Four or Five steps later he would turn around and say "This cannot be solved, but if we add a Coefficient of Friction here we can then carry on." By the time we got to the end of the lecture we had a magic formula for determining how deep a foundation needs to be for a bridge (or some other aspect of engineering) complete with half a dozen fudge factors, no, sorry, Coefficients.

Each formula comes with a book full of tables. Each table shows the value the engineer needs to use for each coefficient depending on the climate, the weather, the purpose, shape and size of the structure, how long it's going to be there for etc..........

Diabetes is a bit like engineering. Blood sugar management and insulin calculations depend on an unsolvable equation. We have these little formulae to use to calculate how much insulin to give and a whole pile of fudge factors. Coeficients that depend on activity, age, hormones, type of food, what the food is mixed with, does a friend have a cold, what were the blood sugars doing over the past 48hours ... this list goes ever on.


There are no books full of tables to use to give the magic numbers. I have to work those out for myself, it's all a case of trial and error. Over time our guesses become more educated due to experience. To make life more complicated both Roo and TJ need different sets of tables. They respond differently to insulin and food.

And what's worse is, I have to throw my tables away every month or two. As the children grow, they change, and so do those "magic numbers".

Learning the Hard Way

1 comment:

  1. really glad your engineering skills come in useful. It's an interesting analogy. Fortunately Tiffany and Reuben are also mathematically talented and will be able to manage the diabetes regime themselves soon.I have real sympathy for those diabetics who struggle with numbers and concepts. Good blog!


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