This a1c means an average blood sugar of about 163. This is not "really terrible" but it's not great either. Studies have shown that you are at lower risk of complications below an a1c of 7.0. There is definitely room for improvement.
It depends upon how or what you define as "terrible." If you subscribe to the ADA standard that an A1c at or below 7.0 is "tight control" or normal (big mistake in my opinion), you will be richly rewarded with the development of diabetes-induced complications in your future. Diabetic complications are an insidious process because there are few physical symptoms and the progressive damage is done "silently." The most "noticeable" indicator is neuropathy which far too many patients (and practitioners) tend to dismiss as an inevitable but not-too-serious "natural progression" of the disease. However, elevated blood glucose is an equal opportunity destroyer. While neuropathy may be the first noticeable symptom, you can rest assured that comparable and progressive damage is also transpiring wioth your internal organs, retinas of your eyes, skin, and blood vessel walls. It may take anywhere from five to twenty years for glycation damage to progress to the point where symptoms become self-evident. However, by then it is often too late to do much about it except to "live with it" (for the rest of your life and the condition may very well continue to degrade/progress after that). Want something more convincing? Do some volunteer work at your local hospital and visit their dialysis center or physical therapy unit (for amputees). It will be a sobering experience after you discover how many of those patients are there because of diabetes. Sadly, at least for seniors, the mean survival rate after an amputation (even if it's only a toe) is a mere 27.2 months (due to the cardiovascular events that required the amputation in the first place). What's more, those remaining months of life are neither enjoyable nor pleasurable. But, of course, that really applies to the last decade of life for most diabetics who are suffering from serious complications. Is an A1c over 7.0 terrible? It all depends on what your own personal values are in terms of what constitutes an enjoyable or acceptable life.
If you're interested in what is "normal" and the level at which damage begins, try these two links at the BloodSugar 101 website (Jenny Ruhl, the site's operator, tells it like it is):
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