Dick was convinced he had stumbled upon a revolution in diabetes care. He wanted to share his results with diabetes patients everywhere. So, he followed the usual protocol for sharing advances in medical research, he wrote his results up and submitted them to medical journals. However, journals were not interested in his paper. They thought that more studies needed to be conducted, or that most patients would not use the new glucose meter. Dick thought that the doctors were wary of losing money. If a patient, like Dick, could measure his own blood glucose levels and adjust his diet and insulin, why pay a doctor?
Ultimately, Dick Bernstein chose a different route to help other patients. He went to medical school, starting at the age of 45. Then opened a private practice as a diabetes physician to directly counsel fellow patients. He’s also written several books, to help patients who don’t live in his area. It took another ten years, but eventually doctors started recommending patients measure their own blood glucose, and self-regulation of blood glucose became common.
When Dick Bernstein first started testing his own blood glucose, he was amazed at the , caused many complications. The goal was clear, keep blood glucose levels as low as possible, but if there were going to be large short term fluctuations ensure that these fluctuations go up, not down! If your blood glucose levels went from 70 mg/dl to 150 mg/dl for a few hours, it was no big deal. However, if your blood glucose levels went from 70 mg/dl to 10 mg/dl at any time, it would mean certain death.
For those patients who were not measuring their glucose levels eight times per day, like Dr. Dick Bernstein, how could they know how well they were controlling their blood glucose levels? What was needed was a blood test that showed not the instantaneous blood glucose levels, but instead the average blood glucose levels over the past week or month.