I am dedicating this to my friend Dee who has concerns that she will develop the mindset of an ‘old Diabetic’. This mindset consists of being scared to death that having short-term high blood sugars will cause amputation, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
As a result of these fears, in the past many ‘old Diabetics’ learned to avoid high blood sugars, purposely running very tight sugars on old insulin such as Lente®, Humulin® L, NPH, Humulin® N, Toronto® and Humulin® R. As a result the experiences of multiple moderate to severe low blood sugars occurred daily and weekly. ‘Old Diabetics’ were not taught the mindset that a severe low could kill them or cause damage as well. I know this all to well because I am one of ‘those’ ‘old Diabetics’. Sadly, today many still live life like this despite the new technologies and choices we have to manage our diabetes.
I am not supporting anything more than the targets set for you or the A1C you need to achieve to attain a healthy life, but I do believe achieving these go beyond numbers and are associated with the mindset of getting there.
Whether you are an ‘old Diabetic’ or not, being diagnosed and living with diabetes can be empowering AND daunting. You change your lifestyle to live healthier, a big bonus! After feeling good about your accomplishments you suddenly experience a setback. So frustrating!
Do you recall this picture? Do you see an old hag or a young woman? Can you change your perception of what you initially see? It is so hard!
It is the same with our diabetes. What do we see when we look at our lives with diabetes? How do we change our perception?
Is this picture of a lane a challenge that may be snowy and slippery leading to the unknown, possibly a struggle to walk back up, heart beating fast, muscles burning? Oh the worry over what could be a beautiful journey if the perception is changed. Or do you see the pleasure of an enjoyable walk with relaxing views including a beautiful winter blue sky in the horizon? Do you see it?
How can I reassure you that you can manage your diabetes and avoid the things you fear? Honestly, I can’t.
What I can reassure you is; YOU are not bad. You are you as a person first who lives with a chronic disease called diabetes. Don’t connect the two as to who you are and your accomplishments as a person.
You are not your sugars. You are not your diabetes. When I hear the statement “I’ve been bad.”, the next words out of my mouth are; “Hey, do you have diabetes???”. We both laugh and I say, “That’s why you have high and low blood sugars!, HEY, You have diabetes!!”
So how can I reassure you? I have changed my view of being an ‘old Diabetic’.
I see the picture differently now. Do you know why? Living with diabetes isn’t just about me. What I understand now is that if I choose to not ‘play the game’. If I choose to not adhere to the rules, if I choose to keep my perspective as an ‘old Diabetic’ and not learn a new perspective, I am not the only one I am hurting.
Who saves me or helps when I decide to run too tight and too low? Who is SO scared that they may lose me because I was afraid of a short term high or got crazy keeping my sugars too tight? It’s not me!
I have given my heart and soul raising my 2 beautiful children into young adulthood, I want to continue doing that. In particular to my son Kurtis as he begins his life living with diabetes independently.
I want to live life. I want grow old with Steve and be able to fully enjoy our journey together. I don’t him to worry about me. He has to deal with my choices I make with my diabetes now and in the future.
So, with this, these are my reassurances to you:
You can live with diabetes.
You will change your perspective each day on how that will happen.
Through trial and error you will find your groove.
Do not fear the unknown. Work with what you have today and change your game plan and perspective as need be. BUT stick to the rules.
You are not bad no matter what the numbers say, the only change you need to make when you see them is to make it better, for your sake and for those you love.