Coping with Diabetes: A Diabetic's Suggestions
You see my photo to the left there? See that little yellow label with the word "Expert" written across it? It makes me a tad uncomfortable. Sure, I know all the lingo and jargon associated with diabetes and how the body works. I've read a lot about diabetes and keep up with the latest research and diabetes blogs.
But that doesn't make me an expert. Nor does it help me with that "vacation" from diabetes I want. Sure, I'm vigilant. But what makes me an expert is the same thing that makes you an expert on your body and your health:
I live with diabetes.
For the last 21 years.
I'm just a person who has diabetes and wishes she didn't. But I can't wish diabetes away any more than I can wish away my student-loan debt or the twenty pounds I'd like to lose.
And while it's not a life I would've ever chosen for myself, the best life-changing realizations have sprung from this most unlikely of sources. In honor of the upcoming World Diabetes Day, here is the first of my three best tips for living a happier, healthier life with diabetes.
1. Embrace Your Inner-Rebel!
- Most folks don't like feeling like a victim. But diabetes can throw you for a loop. A sneak attack of low bloodsugar while exercising. Unexpected hyperglycemia from stress, hormones, a kinked infusion site, an over-bolus of insulin, etc. These moments shake us up and can leave us feeling vulnerable and out of control.
- No one chooses such things. No one chooses diabetes. No one canalways control diabetes as perfectly as they'd like to. But instead of wallowing, why not choose to embrace diabetes as a manifestation of your inner rebel?
(Ok-I know what you may be thinking--if you are anything like I used to be: Embrace diabetes? NO WAY! Have diabetes define me in some way? NEVER! But hear me out...)
- It's important to take a look at how we frame our thoughts and lives as people affected daily by diabetes. Especially since so much of living with a chronic illness has to do with our habits (habitual attitudes, routines, schedules, self-care, beliefs, stories we tell ourselves, etc.)
Call me silly, but as a poet images and symbols resonate, and I choose to see my Type 1 diabetes as the symbol of my inner-rebel. So this is how I see it:
- I like to think I was born with an outlaw pancreas and auto-immune system with a mind of its own. Like me, it doesn't always do the best job staying "in line" and following the rules and regulations imposed by outside forces-at least not with any degree of regularity.
- In many ways, my auto-immune system and my pancreas are the perfect symbols of my inner-rebel. And like many of us in this economy, my pancreas is pretty much out of a job! Flat broke and unemployed for 21 years. Um, my pancreas that is. If you have Type 2 diabetes, yours might underpaid despite working overtime.
And while I'd like to put diabetes out of business, I can't bank on that. Instead, I rely on what I know works and stays true to the essence of who I am-by embracing my inner rebel by embracing, not fighting, this challenging, but still beautiful, life with diabetes.