Often if I was asked to describe Diabetes, my instinct was to respond frustrating. Anyone who has Diabetes or has had close contact with someone living with this condition will attest to this. After a particularly frustrating night followed by an equally distressing morning, a friend who has type 1 Diabetes shared this picture with me which she found on the GetDiabetesRight.org Facebook page.
After we laughed, sighed as we shared that “Oh well it could always be worse!” kind of smile, we kicked back into survival mode. That’s what you do when you are faced with the unpredictableness of this disease day after day. You must be resilient.
Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had Diabetes for 30 years, you will have bad days. If it was just what you ate that affected your blood sugar, Diabetes management would be easy. Unfortunately there are so many other variables at play. Stress, for instance, has such a huge impact on blood sugars. Anyone utilizing a continuous glucose monitor can see how emotions affect blood sugars. Who doesn’t have stress? Still some days there just doesn’t seem to be any explanation for the highs and lows…and so you lament over that and there it goes! (I apologize if your blood sugar is rising just from reading this.)
What do you do? Well you don’t give up. You take it day by day, and in those really tough times you take it moment by moment. By anticipating that these days will come, you will be prepared to better handle them. It is important to have a plan of action ready.
Have a support system in place and call/text or better yet try to meet up with someone who understands you and will lift your spirits. This may be a friend or family member. Another option would be joining an online support group.
Reach out to your healthcare provider if you have a question. How long has it been since you sent your blood sugars into the office for review? Even if it has been a while since you have been seen, utilize this option.
MOVE! Get outside and take a walk. Spend some time in the sunshine and see if that makes you smile. Yoga is another option. It can help you manage stress and improve blood sugar control. Any form of physical activity that you like can help. Just remember to check your blood sugar before starting.
Take a few minutes and listen to some uplifting music. A great example is The Greatest by Sia…aka THE DIABETIC FIGHT SONG because you have stamina! Never give up.
I can only imagine what prompted business executive Theodore Vail to state the above but I doubt it had anything to do with DIABETES. Reading this my mind wanders to many past conversations where this would have been an interesting lead into the explanation of my approach to diabetes, which I refer to as a different kind of AA…where the key to effective management of this disease involves ACCEPTANCE & AWARENESS.
No matter the type of diabetes, the diagnosis must be truly accepted. It must be understood that this chronic disorder will be a part of you until death. Otherwise, diabetes will always have the upper hand in this imaginary world of denial. When you choose to own the disease, you can control it. This is the first step.
Now you have a choice. Do you simply want to react to the blood sugar reading OR do you want to anticipate what is happening? You can just treat the high or low blood sugar OR you can try to understand why the blood sugar went up or down in the first place. This will be your new focus of attention to improve future blood sugar readings. Increased awareness leads to anticipation, better choices and better results. This awareness encompasses many areas including monitoring your blood sugars, keeping a food journal and using a fitness tracker. Since it is more than just what you eat that affects the blood sugar, having all of this information available will help you make the proper lifestyle adjustments.
Overall, it is YOUR PERSPECTIVE that must change. The diagnosis of diabetes may provoke varied emotions. Many are angry. Some are sad. Others are ashamed to have diabetes. It is frustrating for sure BUT there are other diseases that are not so manageable. If having diabetes has been part of your journey, embrace it! What is the alternative? If allowed, diabetes can be metabolic cancer that will ravage the body. Don’t let diabetes be this imaginary unconquerable battle left to steal another day.
It is November and while most anticipate all the beauty of fall and the upcoming holidays, for others it is time once again to bring awareness to a disease that affects 29 million Americans and over 400 million people worldwide. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This year people all over are sharing their stories and putting a face to this disease with the theme…
Young and old baring souls and providing a glimpse into the reality of what the day of a person living with diabetes is like. Unfortunately until you experience it first hand or through a loved one, it is difficult to fully appreciate what it is like to have to totally change and manage every aspect of your life overnight. I shared a version of this statement on social media last November in honor of all my patients struggling with Diabetes…
Although Diabetes is frustrating for sure, I have ALWAYS encouraged others that this is a disease that CAN be managed and that is a good thing. Stay strong and positive.
Please take the time to view these stories, learn something new and perhaps even share what you find particularly interesting or moving. #ThisIsDiabetes