Diabetes Tribulations Are Much Like Football Players: Otto Graham

Amylia Grace Yeaman Health Guide
  • I turned 33 over the weekend, 22 of those years with my ol' pal, type 1 diabetes. It hasn't been easy, and it never really is, but one nice thing stood out to me: I don't allow my bloodsugars to define the success of my days. On days when diabetes seems to be running the show, I remind myself that as proctor to my pancreas, I am doing the best I can. If I could have done better, I would have.


    Truth is, some days my best isn't all that stellar. Ok, sometimes my best down right stinks. Other days, it's damn impressive. Most fall somewhere in between. But by embracing how I do what I can but don't have to be in control of everything, I free myself from that mean-girl chatterbox voice in my head (I call her Biffany). I can't shut her up entirely, but I can make a conscious choice to ignore here.

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    One caveat:  This not the same as advocating zilcho responsibility for my choices and their consequences, nor does it man I'm just shrugging it all off because heck, I can't control it all anyway--so why even try? No, no. This is not that. This is simply acknowledging we are not omniscient. We are human and fallible and doing the best we can in a tricky situation.


    Turns out football players have similar challenges.


    When asked to name the most useful skill a pass receiver could have, do you know what Otto Graham (one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time) said?


    "A damn short memory."


    What did he mean?


    He meant it is essential for receivers to be able to quickly forget about a bad fumble-put it out of their mind and move on. He meant one should focus on the ability to make a small adjustment and then let go and not fixate on the error in "trial and error." Keep moving. There is an over-emphasis on stamping out all the mistakes and missteps right away instead of augmenting them by strengthening the areas we are best at and can change.  


    In the end, the attitude football players and diabetics take are not so very different. We all depend upon trial and error, would be wise to listen to our coaches but rely on our instincts. It helps to regularly review our results, take our best educated guess, and think a few steps ahead in anticipation of the next play, tackle or opponent. Stressing over our fumbles and errors in judgment only makes it worse, and then control is harder to maintain.


    Otto Graham's message is one we should all listen to because we are all like him. We have to be able to forget about the humiliation of the last missed pass or how we accidentally dropped the ball (again). We only have this one wild and precious life, and to spend it fully in the present moment as much as possible is the only way we'll ever catch all the opportunities heading our way right. You might also unclench those fists and open your hands to receive.


    What's your best advice for tacking the things diabetes tosses our way?



Published On: May 24, 2010