Dealing with diabetes: my way isn’t your way

There is no right way to adapt to diabetes.

There is no wrong way to adapt to diabetes.

My way is the only way!

As individual human beings who just so happen to have diabetes, it is imperative that we remind ourselves of this from time to time.

“Your diabetes may vary”? Taken literally = Nonsense! More like “Your diabetes will vary.”

I am my own chief executive.

I am my own legislature.

I am my own judge.

Thankfully, I have numerous well-qualified advisors helping me shoulder the burden.

Perhaps my way is conducive to me flourishing in life. Perhaps it is not. Ultimately, it does not really matter all that much.

Right focus. That is the main thing.

Adapting to diabetes in a beneficial manner is absolutely essential. To focus on how one has adapted is foolish and, potentially, futile.

Right focus. Focus on what is in your control.

How the hell am I supposed to know whether or not my way is beneficial?! Magic? Visiting an oracle? Luck?

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Analogy: Life is war. What the Eastern Front was to World War 2 diabetes is to life.

More often than not, an indirect approach is superior to a direct one. In war and in life, this strategy holds good.

I can decide to try to change my habits.

Whether or not I will or even can is not completely in my control. This is irrelevant.

Options: to let my habits stay the same, or to take action and discover if they can be improved.

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I focus on meditating frequently, self-reflection, and writing. These are what help me the most.

These form my foundation for self-discovery.

Ultimately, it is up to you to find your own.

The power is in your own hands.

 

Should you trust your gut?

As I reached forward, I suddenly felt myself being tugged away.

I could not do it. I was unable to press the button.

Eventually I broke free, and yesterday’s post was published.

I did not trust my gut.

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“I am responsible for everything … except for my very responsibility, for I am not the foundation of my being. Therefore everything takes place as if I were compelled to be responsible. I am abandoned in the world … in the sense that I find myself suddenly alone and without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility for an instant.”
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

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To be a blogger takes self-assurance. A great deal of it.

In part, it takes trusting your instincts.

You must believe in the ideas you have. Faith in your abilities as a writer is essential.

When I write, I trust my gut.

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“All human activities are equivalent … and … all are on principle doomed to failure.”
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

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Fear can be overcome. People with type 1 diabetes – those who previously feared needles – know this all too well.

Do not let fear be your master!

Do not allow fear to hold you back!

Putting together the puzzle pieces

My sisters diagnosis with type 1 diabetes has brought to light just how sloppy I have become.

She has shown much greater care in managing diabetes than I currently do.

She changes her lancet every other day; I change mine every time it dawns on me that I cannot remember when I last changed mine.

She still uses alcohol wipes; I do not.

She still shows discipline in her eating habits; I am inconsistent.

If I desired to, I could innumerate many other contrasts between us. I do not desire to do so.

I am lazy at times. Openly so. This post is not meant to conceal this…

“…who wishes to concern himself with such dangerous “Perhapses”! For that investigation one must await the advent of a new order of philosophers, such as will have other tastes and inclinations, the reverse of those hitherto prevalent–philosophers of the dangerous “Perhaps” in every sense of the term.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Does laziness get unnecessary flak? Perhaps sloth has been unfairly maligned. Of course, this flies in the face of everything you and I were brought up to believe.

Honorable custom tells us that to be lazy is a bad thing. That it is something to be avoided in oneself, and shunned in others. Why should I bow down to such a stern master?

(On second thought, there are exceptions. Laziness is not always bad. At times, when we are in a merciful mood, we will describe slothfulness with the phrase “laid back”.)

Conversely, why should I make laziness my idol? Is sloth a benevolent master?

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Own thyself.

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Both knee-jerk nonconformism and mindless conformity are less than ideal.

Admittedly, I have engaged in both. Who hasn’t? With that said, I prefer opening myself up to accusations of hypocrisy to selling my ideals for a little comfort.

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I fall short. You fall short. We all fall short. Does this justify giving up?

 “I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser and better.”

~ Socrates

Having picked up on the contrast between my sister and myself, I began to think…

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Not all sloppiness is equal.

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Examine & probe assumptions.

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Exercise:

Periodically ask myself “have I been sloppy in managing my diabetes lately?” List them. Examine. Judge on case by case basis.

Be alive, be flexible

While alive, the body is soft and pliant
When dead, it is hard and rigid
All living things, grass and trees,
While alive, are soft and supple
When dead, become dry and brittle
Thus that which is hard and stiff
is the follower of death
That which is soft and yielding
is the follower of life
Therefore, an inflexible army will not win
A strong tree will be cut down
The big and forceful occupy a lowly position
While the soft and pliant occupy a higher place

Laozi, Tao Te Ching

Battle Language – an explanation

I need to clarify something.

Heather Gabel’s comment a few posts back has made me realize that I have failed to explain why I use battle language. Motivation is not the primary motivator. My reasons are inextricably intertwined with my history.

Let me (try to) explain.

From an early age I have had a profound need to live a purpose driven life. The circumstances surrounding my diagnosis hastened the advent of this need, while other life experiences were an accentuating influence. This need would, in the course of time, strengthen and give direction to my intellectual curiosity.

Given my disposition, I was, quite naturally, inclined towards philosophy and spirituality. Pope John Paul II passing when I was 12 pushed me further in that direction.

In the ensuing years, I found meaning and purpose in faith. I became religious – extremely religious at times.

These years left an indelible mark on my future unfoldment.

It was during this period that I began to see my life as being a journey. Rising above my current situation was seen as a solemn duty.

The desire for complete transformation and the theme of spiritual warfare have been abiding influences. Due to these influences, I continue to see inner conflict and self-development as being inseparable.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War, which I read when I was 16, proved to be a further influence.

Noting the applicability of Sun Tzu’s advice to life in general, I started to, intermittently, explore the similarities between life and warfare, and began using lessons learned from the latter to assist me in the former.

In the language of war, I found a set of metaphors that were useful in helping me as I moved forward in life. They proved to be conducive to transcending the obstacles I ran into.

To expect the unexpected, the fallibility of even the best plans, the role of fortune, the importance of distinguishing between what is & is not in your control and of focusing on that which you can control – these are some of the lessons that have stuck with me.

These lessons are, I believe, beneficial to us all.

Similar yet different

I am a singular individual. Labels do not assimilate me. On the contrary, it’s to me that labels assimilate.

Labels conceal my uniqueness. They hide my individuality.

At the same time…

Each individual is a circle; a label = where circles overlap.

Labels hint at unity. They disclose my similarities with other individuals.

That is potentially beneficial.

Still…Labels  do not disclose me.

I have type 1 diabetes; type 1 diabetes does not swallow me up.

I am young;  being young does not swallow me up.

I am a New Englander; being a New Englander does not swallow me up.

I am an American; being an American does not swallow me up.

I am a man; being a man does not swallow me up.

I am a human; being a human does not swallow me up.

Labels may accurately describe one of my facets. Perhaps they might even explain an aspect or aspects of myself.

A useful negation they might be. Even so, but a fraction of my self is all you see.

Words to live by:

Cherish unity, but do not let love of unity lead to forced uniformity.

Cherish your individuality. Do not let labels obfuscate your uniqueness.

Be mindful.

These jottings are the result of a process of thought set into motion by a comment that Heather Gabel made.  She blogs over at Unexpected Blues. Check it out if you have not done so already!

Mark Twain was right

There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger’s admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on the people to see how they will go. But it gets through more business in spring than in any other season. – Mark Twain

It snowed in southern Maine today! Thankfully it was just a dusting. Still…it snowed. In mid-April. That ain’t supposed to happen!

New England weather is busy indeed! I wonder what other devious designs it has in store?

Mark Twain: a man of wit, wisdom, and…spot-on observations.

Practicing what I preach

My sister is angry about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Do you remember being angry when you were diagnosed?

I assume it’s a common reaction. Assumptions – although necessary at times – are often incorrect. Therefore, I’m testing that assumption of mine.

As for myself, I don’t recall being angry – not initially. I do remember being in denial a week after being discharged from the hospital. That didn’t last.

Stone cold reality refuted my delusion of having complete pancreatic functionality. I soon accepted the circumstances I found myself in, and went with the flow.

At some point I began fighting against the current.

Loneliness. Alienation. That’s what I remember feeling early on. Perhaps those emotions morphed into anger. That’s just speculation though.

I am certain that I did go through a period where I was extremely angry. Most of this anger was due to school though – at least, that is what I attributed it to.

Having spent the majority of my school career with undiagnosed ADHD, I chronically fell (woefully) short of my own expectations – in addition to the expectations of others. My potential remained untapped. Teachers constantly reminded me of that fact. In a word, I struggled.

Naturally, I was angry.

Why was I struggling in school?! What was wrong with me? Why had I fallen through the cracks of the system for so long?! Why don’t administrators and teachers care about helping students who are in the greatest need of help? These were my thoughts…

In retrospect, I can see how these  thoughts catalyzed my anger.  I can also see how my type 1 diabetes might have aggravated the situation I found myself in. Again, this is speculation.

I communicated my emotions only on rare occasions. These instances were the exception, not the rule.

The causes of my lack of communication were numerous, not the least of which being the inherent difficulty of expressing one’s emotions. Perhaps diabetes compounded this difficulty.

As I mentioned earlier, diabetes made me feel alienated. Describing what it’s like living with this chronic disease is futile. The communication gap cannot be bridged completely.

You are marooned on a barren island. Whether you survive is – at least in part – in your hands. Will you adapt to your environment or will you let your environment destroy you? The answer is in your hands.

Amidst a sea of uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: you are alone in your struggles.

Nobody else understands what it is like having to go through life with diabetes. Nobody else can understand.

This is how I felt. I feel this way no more.

This post = me following the advice that I gave to some one else on tudiabetes
This post = me following the advice that I gave to some one else on tudiabetes

Anger, left unchecked, will destroy you. This realization – although seemingly insignificant at the time – was a turning point. It led me to seek change.

In  order to mitigate my anger (and other counterproductive emotions) I began:

  • practicing mindfulness meditation;
  • exercising (there were other reasons as well);
  • writing as a form of therapy;
  • absorbing myself in music

This is what I can think of off the top of my head.

These practices have enriched my life.

My anger has subsided.

I have come to learn that negative circumstances are transitory.

I have realized that there are positives and negatives to all situations. The world doesn’t exist in black and white.

There is always something to complain about.

There is always something to be grateful for.

 

Change of Plans

My 12 year old sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on April 1. Needless to say, my thoughts are centered around helping her to transition to her new life. Therefore, I’m going to put the series of posts that I was planning on hold indefinitely. Doing what I can to help her is more important than this diabetes blog.

With that said, I’m not disappearing from the Diabetes Online Community. The DOC is essential for my well-being.

If you want to stay updated, follow me on twitter @T1DME