Do Something You’re Afraid Of

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It’s Fabulous Friday where we celebrate ourselves or at least remember to.

When we’re afraid of doing something because of the possibility of failure, we don’t honor the incredible people that we are-capable of just about anything.

So today, I ask you to consider doing something you’re afraid of.  And diabetes will seem a little easier.  At least that’s what I have experienced this summer.

You know that movie with Jim Carrey where he says “yes” to everything and it changes his life?  Well, I kind of did that this summer.  I responded affirmative to everything that came up.  Did I overschedule myself a few times?  Yeah.  Did I freak out over some of what I was attempting?  Oh yeah.

But, it was so worth it.

Of course, I don’t mean trying something dangerous.  For me, it meant public speaking, doing more health coaching, participating in as many diabetes related projects as were offered to me even if they made me uncomfortable or seemed difficult.

Part of my fear was not having much downtime and having to multi-task.  But I learned I could mentally get myself to accomplish routines that would have killed my non-housewifey self a year ago.  I did treat myself to ice cream during times of panic, I’ll admit.  I did watch all 11 seasons of Frasier on Netflix (this was therapy because the incessant laughter the show gave me relaxed me and kept me sane-I swear!)  Yet, I realized by working almost every hour of every day that I had only been afraid of a little discomfort and no more.

Something I’ve also been doing that I’ve been afraid of is getting rid of a lot of my possessions.  The funny thing about that is the thought of doing it is what hurts.  Actually doing it feels totally liberating!

For the first time since I can remember, I’m looking forward to Fall and Winter.  This is a big deal for me because I struggle with cold weather and the emotional and traditional Holidays.  But, now I’m all sunshiny about it and I don’t recognize myself.

Doing something we’re afraid of sparks something really great in our minds.  It gives us a feeling of immense relief, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad!” and a major sense of accomplishment “OMG I did it!” and my favorite part, it gives us a feeling of wanting to push further and raise our personal bars to a new level.  Essentially, doing things that scare us help us dream big.  And if dreaming big turns into actionable steps…well, monumental joys await.

So I encourage you all to try something you’re afraid of.  Even if it seems insignificant.  If you’re afraid of it, it matters.  Try it.  It eases anxiety and paranoia that we people with diabetes tend to have extra amounts of.  And the confidence boost and feeling that anything is possible will lift your spirits.  And maybe you’ll get a renewed strength and motivation about your diabetes management.  I know I did.

What have you done lately that you’re afraid of?  Share in comments!

Thoughts on Diabetes Guilt

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I answered a few questions for a video project recently and wanted to get my thoughts out in written format.

The first question was if I had ever felt guilty about having diabetes.  Personally, I have never felt guilty about having diabetes but I have felt guilty about other things such as not eating right, not checking my blood sugars often enough, or skipping exercise.

The way I’ve dealt with this is to first recognize that I’m not perfect and second of all be brutally honest with myself about my efforts.  For me, guilt comes from not doing what I know I’m capable of.  So since I don’t make insulin, I don’t feel guilty about having diabetes, but I certainly try to be aware of what I’m doing in order to get what I want such as good health or great blood sugars.  If I feel guilty about how I’m eating, it’s usually because I know I could be doing better.  I view guilt as a sign that helps point me in the right direction.  And since I’m not a fan of guilt, I use it as a pointer and then banish it for productivity and dignity purposes.

I find that making a plan of action and setting goals is a really great way of diminishing guilt.  Once we are on a path towards our goals, we feel empowered and we know we’re working hard and then there is no room or place for guilt.

I have been treated differently in the past for having diabetes.  It’s understandable because of how most people have a certain level of ignorance about diabetes.  So I find education is key.  And when it’s not appropriate to lecture or teach someone about diabetes, I just smile and feel confident knowing that most people don’t mean to offend and those who do aren’t worth my time.  Walking around angry about the public’s ignorance about diabetes is immature.  I mean, are we saying everyone needs to know the ins and outs of our condition when we don’t know the ins and outs of hundreds of other conditions?  Yikes.

For those who don’t have diabetes, I do have a suggestion.  I’d suggest that they simply not assume when it comes to anything about anyone else and be open to learning, instead.  The great thing about this is it should work on just about anything!

The best tool I’ve found for handling misconceptions out there about diabetes is to put all my energy and focus on living my best life because I’ve found that when I do that, I look and feel better and that speaks volumes to people and sets them straight often before I open my mouth to correct them.

Many people feel that type 1 diabetes is easy and all about just taking insulin.  It’s been very empowering for me to write a blog that family and friends read because it’s allowed them to learn more about what diabetes is really like to live with, without being lectured.

So all in all I’d say that leading and teaching others by example and focusing on ourselves is a great way to fight stereotypes and misconceptions out there.  Placing much of our energy outside of ourselves is a bit of a waste, in my opinion.  And very importantly, I’d say that it’s important to decide that no one is going to make you feel bad about having diabetes.  If they get to you it may be that you have some feelings of your own to work through and if that’s the case, work through them.  My philosophy is to take responsibility for our own feelings and actions.

I like being in a place where guilt doesn’t weigh me down and other people have little power over me.  I think we all deserve that.

Interview with Type 1 Living Abroad, Ariana Mullins

 

Remember earlier this year when I interviewed Nathan ShackelfordHis blog is still one of my faves.  Well, he said I might like to check out his sister’s blog.  Ariana Mullins has type 1 diabetes like her brother, but doesn’t blog about it.  Instead she blogs about her family’s adventures living in Europe.  She is a fantastic writer (she just wrote my favorite blog post ever) and takes some amazing pictures.  Do check out her blog, it’s a beautiful reminder of what living a healthy, fabulous, and grateful life is all about.

I asked her some questions about how she manages her diabetes and what it was like having diabetes and living in Europe (and other places):

How long have you had type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed 21 years ago, at age 12.  By the way, I was diagnosed by my dad and his glucometer, and never even saw a doctor  about my diabetes until I was 14.  My dad and older bother are both type 1 diabetics, and we were living in a rural area in the Philippines. My dad helped me work out my insulin dosages, taught me to estimate carb counts, etc.  My brother sent me my first insulin wallet, (which I used for the next 15 years!)  I decided right away that I wanted to be healthier than any non-diabetic, and took everything related to self-care pretty seriously.  Six months after diagnosis, I left for boarding school, on another island– so I was really on my own!  When I did finally see an endocrinologist, he was amazed that I had an A1c of 5.6!

What’s your motto in life?

“Never make decisions based on fear.”  I think I have lived this philosophy pretty well with my diabetes.  I haven’t let my diagnosis keep me from doing anything I really wanted to do, with the exception of snorkeling and scuba diving.  I used to snorkel all the time as a kid, but once I became diabetic, the idea of being in the middle of the ocean with low blood sugar was just too hard to justify!  Other than that, I have not let my diagnosis keep me from living as fully as possible, trying as many new experiences as I can.

Ariana and her brother, Nathan:IMG_1246

What is your diet like and why do you eat that way?

I eat low carb, and follow more of a paleo-type of approach.  I love food, and love to cook.  We originally started eating a grain-free diet because of food allergies that my daughter and husband have, but I quickly realized that it was great for all of us, and simplified my life a lot, since I was already not eating much starch anyway.  We eat plenty of meat and eggs, lots of vegetables, coconut products, and plenty of fat.  If we’ve been to France recently, then there’s plenty of great cheese on the table, as well!
I don’t crave a lot of sweets, but I do make room in my day for dark chocolate (usually 80%) and am happy to try out grain-free dessert recipes for my family, although I don’t usually eatmuch of those treats.  We always eat very well, though, with an emphasis on great quality items.  Who wouldn’t be happy to have a nice steak with herbed butter, grilled asparagus, olives, and a fresh, herbal salad for dinner?  Add a glass of red wine and some chocolate for dessert, and I feel like one lucky lady!  I never feel deprived, and absolutely love eating all of the great food at our table.

I think that one of the most positive, proactive things a person (regardless of health concerns) can do is to look at their food supply– what are we really eating, and where did it come from?  How was it produced?  Taking an interest in our sustenance is extremely rewarding, and eating well does not have to be expensive or difficult.  It’s true that eating quality food is a real priority for me, both in terms of budget and effort, but I don’t spend more than the average person (in fact, probably less!) and we feel incredibly wealthy when we sit down to eat together.

(Sysy speaking-she isn’t kidding.  Below is her cooking.  It’s what I want for dinner.)

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What in your opinion, is the toughest thing about living with type 1 diabetes?

I think the hardest part is just that it’s always there, on my mind, and impacting the smallest decisions in my day.  What I eat, when I eat.  The type of exercise I do, when, how long, etc.  Although diabetes doesn’t limit me much, it impacts everything.  When I leave the house, I have to think about whether I have something on hand in case of hypoglycemia, and whether it’s enough, or where I could get more, if needed.   And I am always counting…  The insulin I took, what I ate, when, what I will eat, what my last number was, what happened yesterday or the day before, trying to anticipate what my blood sugar might do.  There are so many variables– how much sleep I got, the amount of stress I am under, how old my insulin is, which ratio of insulin in my system is basal, how long a bolus dose will be working… The list of factors is endless, and it can be overwhelming at times, when there is a problematic dynamic happening that I need to figure out.  I can do everything “right” and still not get the numbers I am shooting for.  Diabetes takes a ton of mental energy and patience, and when other things in my life are a little wild, it can feel like too much!

Do you ever fear your daughter will develop it?

Yes, I do fear that she might.  Genetically, the chances are not too bad, but there is always that possibility.  Honestly, this is another reason that we eat the way we do– I want to give her the best health foundation that I can.  I do my best without being obsessive, and the rest is really not up to me.  It’s not something I think about every day, though, and it really wouldn’t be the end of the world if she did develop diabetes.

With her adorable daughter, Amelia:IMG_5617

Is it challenging living abroad with type 1 diabetes? What places have been the most challenging/least challenging?

I don’t find living abroad with this diagnosis to be much more challenging than living in the US.  In Germany, I did have to do more work to find a doctor that spoke English.  My diabetes is the same here as it would be anywhere else in the world.  I think it would be more challenging living in a really hot country, where I had to think all of the time about keeping my insulin cold.  Or a place that I couldn’t find supplies so easily.  But so far, it’s not hard at all.  We travel quite a bit, and that of course presents some challenges, but usually nothing too serious.  And of course,  the travel is so worth it!

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If you can’t find glucose tablets, what do you use for lows?

Fruit– I often carry an apple in my purse.  I can’t find Smarties candy here, which is my #1 choice.  Fruit leathers are pretty good, though, and if I am out and about, then getting a little bit of fruit juice is fast and effective.

How many times a day do you check your blood sugars?

This actually varies.  Since I have some limitations of test strip supply, I use a “save and splurge” sort of strategy.  I might use tons of strips for a few days, while I am figuring out a dynamic or blood sugar problem.  Once I have logged all of that information and have something to work with, I will make changes, and then check less obsessively, to see how things are going.  On average, though, I’d say I check 5-7 times per day.

Why did you decide to move abroad? Were you worried about how you would manage with your diabetes?

We decided to move overseas because we wanted to live in Europe.  It’s really that simple!  When we found out that my husband could get a good job working for the US government overseas, we jumped at the opportunity.  We lived in Germany for a while, and now we have been in England for over a year.
To be honest, my diabetes was not even a factor I considered when making the decision to move.  I think this makes sense, if you take into account my first years as a diabetic– completely self-managing in a foreign country.  I had not gotten exceptional care from doctors in the US, and the cost of insurance, co-pays and things like that never made me feel like I was particularly lucky to be a diabetic in my home country.  Once, I went to see a really great endo in Portland, and they booked my appointment and said they would accept my insurance.  But it turned out that they wouldn’t– I found this out after the doctor had run a whole bunch of labs (which just revealed that I was super healthy!) and we ran up a bill of $1,000 for that one visit, during a time of financial strain!  I could not even afford a follow up, which would have been the more valuable visit.  See what I mean?  There are great resources for diabetics, but not necessarily available to the people who need them.

So, here in England, the way they manage diabetes is not that great, either.  But they do cover prescriptions and supplies 100%!  Honestly, it is the patient that manages their diabetes, not the doctor.  So I would rather be empowered by having the supplies and medications I need, than lots of face time with doctors and nurses.  That said, there is a diabetes clinic nearby, and I can call one of the nurses, send them my logs, etc., whenever I want, for help.  The technology is a bit behind, though.  Not many diabetics use pumps here, since the funding is limited, and CGM supplies are not covered.  I am currently on a waiting list for a pump class, and then subsequently getting set up with a pump.  I don’t know how long it will be, and it’s not something I am expecting next week, I’m just waiting to see how it plays out.  Interestingly, you have to sort of prove your worthiness to get a pump– a reasonable A1c, and adeptness at carb counting and adjusting insulin.  I know these are kind of basic in the US, but I think it’s more rare to find PWDs who are very engaged in their own management.  This observation is simply based on the way things are handled– I haven’t met another PWD here yet!

What advice do you have for someone with type 1 who is considering moving to England (where you live now)?

I would recommend that they work to get their diabetes well-managed, through whatever resources they have available to them at home first.  It may vary depending on where in England they land, but I don’t think the management resources here are great.  They would need to be pretty competent with trouble-shooting and investigating issues on their own.  Sure, there are doctors and nurses here to help, but it could take a while to get an appointment at a diabetes clinic, or to find the exact type of help they need.  For example, if I had been working with a great endo before I moved here, I would have tried to set up a way to stay in contact with them, and pay for consults over the phone or via email.  On the other hand, if they qualify for NHS coverage, then they are going to love getting all their supplies for free!

The thing that most positively impacts your diabetes management?

A curiosity about the human body, and health in general.  Being diagnosed at a young age definitely sparked my life-long interest in health and nutrition.  Our bodies are really amazing.  They are always working hard to do their best, and deserve our best in return– the best nutrition we can find, plenty of rest, play, etc.  It makes me sad when I see people feeling angry with their bodies, or fighting them– the body is always working really hard, and never tries to sabotage us! The discomforts or troubling symptoms I may have are just forms of communication.  If I pay attention and respond, I can take great care of myself!  Don’t let the challenges of living with diabetes overshadow all of the really wonderful things that we are capable of through such exquisitely designed structures!

Where in the world would Carmen Sandiego be if she had type 1 diabetes?

Probably in Germany!  The best diabetes technology always seems to be coming from there, and they also have a great healthcare system that allows diabetics to get the care that they need, with minimal personal expense.

Any last words?

I don’t usually write about diabetes, so this was a positive exercise for me, in terms of articulating my experience with this condition.  Diabetes is actually not a big part of my identity.  I learned from an early age that I didn’t like being thought of as “that diabetic girl.”  People either felt sorry for me, or felt like they needed to get involved, or (worse yet!) tell me their best diabetes-related horror story.  No thanks!  Life is so interesting, and there is so much out there to experience, so I do my best to strike the balance between taking good care of myself, and just living and enjoying everything else around me.

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With her husband, Jeff.

Thank you for letting me share a bit about my experiences, Sysy!

Anytime!  Thanks for being so candid and helping prove that people with diabetes can do anything.

How I Just Be Happy and Manage My Diabetes

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The secret to happiness.  I’ve heard wise people say that we don’t find happiness, rather we simply be happy.  And I always scoffed at that because I thought, “um…easy for you to say, you don’t have diabetes or this or that or blah blah blah…”

And recently, despite being really short on finances, despite having type 1 diabetes, despite living in a world that feels more scary every day, I’ve been really happy.

And I suddenly understood that thing about just being happy.  How many of us think that once we change jobs we’ll be happy?  Or once we lose weight we’ll be happy?  Or once we find the one, we’ll be happy.  I did all three of those at one point in life and was hit over the head with the realization that life felt the same because I was looking at it through the same gray tinted lens.  I went back to thinking I’d be happy if I had this or that and so the search for happiness just went on and on.

I also used to think I’d be happy if I could have well managed diabetes.  Just now, I sat looking at my kids happily squealing over a praying mantis (and petting it no less), and thought, why do I manage my diabetes well now and didn’t back then?  It’s not that I work harder than I used to.

You see, instead of trying to find happiness lately, I just be happy.  And it works.  And while I used to try to manage my blood sugars, I now just manage them.  Just like I am happy no matter what happens.  I manage my blood sugar no matter what it takes.  Being happy means making the choice to be happy, even under difficult circumstances (which are bound to be present).

Well, managing blood sugars, for me at least, means choosing to manage my blood sugars.  Managing my blood sugars even if I don’t want to eat right, even if I don’t want to give a shot, or check my blood sugar.  Even if I don’t want to make any of the sacrifices that non-diabetics don’t have to make.

Some say they don’t want to work that hard, give up that much, or strain to be happy while feeling hurt or anger or pain.  But what I figured out was that hurt, anger, pain, and hard work are inevitable and a part of life.  Those who try to escape these feelings are simply relocating them, losing control over their lives, and not even reaping the benefits.

So try choosing to be happy.  And choose to manage your blood sugars.  You know what to do.  You know what it takes.  You’re worth it.  And it’s not nearly as hard as dealing with the consequences of not doing it.  Ironic, but true.  And am I always happy and always managing my diabetes well?  Nah.  That would be non-human of me.

Now I know this was a big simple post and general and all that.  I’ll get in deeper soon, I promise.

Caring About Health is Patriotic

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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

~Aristotle

This isn’t a political post.  It’s a post directed at you and me, the individual, who makes up our place and culture.  We have a lot of power in our hands and we should use it.

It’s always been clear to me that a holistic approach to all things in life is a good idea.  After all, holistic simply refers to an emphasis on the whole and the interconnectedness of all the parts.  It has nothing to do with shunning modern medicine or being a vegan.

When it comes to health, holistic just means that there should be an awareness on the whole.  So in the case of a person in terms of being a patient, it means that their emotional and mental state matters as much as their physical state.  It’s all connected and everything has the potential to affect everything else in the body, mind, and spirit.

Is a cheap and effective treatment somehow less than an expensive and equally effective treatment?

Our modern healthcare system seems to think so.  There are hundreds of equally effective, safe, inexpensive treatments for ailments out there but our system almost always defaults on the high tech, risky, and extremely expensive ones instead.  In the end, we’re bankrupt and unable to sustain any health.

So I think now, more than ever, do we need to recognize that grandma new a few things about preventative health and natural remedies and combine that knowledge with the fantastic information we have today.  It’s about integrating allopathic and alternative medicine for the best possible outcome for the patient.  It’s Integrative Medicine and we should have never been so cocky as to rely only on expensive drugs while forgetting all the simple tools for prevention.

I know it’s hard to learn about something that isn’t interesting.  I’m lucky in a sense because I love reading about this stuff but I know it’s not that way for everyone and I respect that.  But, I would say that it’s imperative that we all not only research on the presidential candidates as part of our good citizen job requirements but that we also learn more about health and wellness.

I don’t mean anything fancy or intricate, I mean, watch a few documentaries, learn about our food and health system.  The first step to better health is an increased awareness about how we live.  And think of how important good health is for a country.  Part of our duty as citizens is to do what each of us can to ensure good health for ourselves and our children.

This is all important to you because if you don’t feel well, good luck on reaching your hopes and dreams.  Feeling less than great or feeling ill really puts a damper on one’s plans.  And since life is generally challenging enough, we don’t need to add health-related obstacles into the mix.

I think much of our problems in this area stem from our culture and the way we tend to follow what is mainstream, feel a bit nervous about straying from the norm, and fail to question authority and common knowledge.  Common knowledge isn’t necessarily accurate knowledge.  And questioning isn’t harmful, it’s just investigating, double checking, being sure that something is the right way to go.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that I hope our state of affairs will inspire us all to take some time to educate ourselves about how people have stayed healthy over the years.  How did people manage before modern medicine?  Why do some cultures have much better health than ours?  What can we adjust in order to save ourselves and our kids?  Health-wise, our ship is sinking.  But rather than despair, we just need to be the spirited, proactive people we are, before it’s too late.

I grew up wanting to be a doctor, totally impressed by what they do.  I didn’t know how much power I had as one simple person. Once I educated myself a little and safely adjusted my lifestyle, I was blown away by how cheaply and simply I could heal my body and stay healthy.  If most of us could manage something like this, we’d all have a lot more health, happiness, and money in our pockets and then a lot more resources and attention to give those with more serious health issues.

And isn’t that what we all want?

No Words

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No words can express the pain the DOC is feeling right now.  One of our most inspiring, genuine, and sweetest members, Meri, who blogs at Our Diabetic Life has lost her husband to cancer this weekend.  She has four boys, three of whom have type 1 diabetes.

I and many others can’t wrap our heads around how this family is supposed to manage.  There is a huge emotional impact coupled with a financial and physical one that will be very heavy to bear.

I find myself wanting to help but don’t know how.  All I’ve been able to do is donate to help cover the costs associated with this family’s tough journey.  I blog to let you all know about this family and to let you all know that there is a way to help if you feel so moved.

Please send your prayers, thoughts, positive vibes and energy, financial donation-anything you can to help.

I find having type 1 diabetes a lot of work-just for myself.  This woman is going to have to manage her three son’s diabetes and deal with the loss of her soul mate and partner in parenting at the same time.  I simply can’t fathom this.  I cry just thinking about it.

But knowing Meri through her blog, I’ve found out that she and her family is the definition of strength and grace and faith under pressure.  We don’t ever want them to feel alone on this tough road ahead.  We’ve come to know them as part of our DOC family.

So again, if you can help, here is the link.

I’ll be back soon with blogging.  Right now, it doesn’t feel right to write about anything else.

Thanks for reading.

September/October Resolutions 2012

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“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” 
~Albert Einstein

My goal for the past two months was to focus on finishing my nutrition school studies (check!) and get through A1c Champions training (check! check!).

I’m excited to move onto the next two months with more time on my hands.

Ana’s goal for these next two months is to get informed on the presidential candidates and vote.  I think this is the first time Ana will be old enough to vote (right?) so yayy Ana!

My goal for these next two months is to focus on diabetes advocacy.

I plan on giving a lecture about diabetes somewhere in town.  I plan on blogging often again.  And I hope to support all those great initiatives out there in the world of diabetes advocacy leading up to diabetes awareness month.  I’ll let you know what those are so you can help, too!

Remember, if not us, then who?

Upcoming Diabetes News

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I’ve been so busy lately training for peer mentoring and public speaking, nutrition studies, and listening to my kids finally talk (yayyy!!!)  But there are some awesome diabetes and health related things going on that I really want to report.

Thankfully, my friend Stacey wrote a post encompassing all this news so please, please, go here and check out all the great initiatives going on!

And since today is Fabulous Friday and we focus on self-love, I just want to leave you with this quote:

“Wouldn’t it be powerful if you fell in love with yourself so deeply that you would do just about anything if you knew it would make you happy? This is precisely how much life loves you and wants you to nurture yourself. The deeper you love yourself, the more the universe will affirm your worth. Then you can enjoy a lifelong love affair that brings you the richest fulfillment from inside out.”

~Alan Cohen

Clarifying Our Message as DOC Bloggers

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In talking with a friend recently, I thought about how bipolar diabetes blogs may seem to the outsider.  Often, in the DOC or Diabetes Online Community, people blog about how we are empowered patients, how we are happy despite our serious condition, how we like to be called “people with diabetes” instead of “diabetics”, and how we are lucky to have an illness that we can have so much control over.

On the flip side, it’s not unusual to read a diabetes blog that seems written for an audience who isn’t aware of the ins and outs of diabetes.  It’s common to read blogs about how miserable diabetes can make us, how our rights are infringed upon, how others aren’t sensitive enough to our plight, and how we feel like complete failures for living with a condition that is as misunderstood as it is impossible to perfectly control.

Many of us feel a need and an impulse to talk about our feelings on our blogs.  And since feelings come and go and their intensity ebbs and flows, this gives the appearance of instability.  The overwhelming majority of people who read diabetes blogs have diabetes so traditionally, this hasn’t been an issue.

Many of us also feel compelled to advocate on behalf of our condition and those who have it and therefore we write posts that are aimed at those who don’t understand diabetes and may need some educating and awareness on the topic.  And this works to some extent because family and friends who don’t have diabetes tend to read our blogs.

However, you can see how limiting this is.  Friends and family are already more compassionate to what we experience in life so who else is reading a diabetes blog to learn more?  A few doctors perhaps?  The newly diagnosed.

For those who start reading a diabetes blog without knowing much about diabetes, it’s understandable that the impression they get from the DOC is that “these people need to make up their minds!”  Are we happy and triumphant e-patients who are the boss of our chronic condition or the miserable and depressed victims of a terrible uncontrollable disease?  Well, we’re both and everything in between.

This is understood by me and all you other people with diabetes out there so it’s no biggie.  Except, lately, formal advocacy efforts and the media have both become very intertwined with us bloggers.  And I believe this means we need to amplify our awareness a bit about our writing.  We need to be very careful about how we say what we say.  Is this a drag?  Kind of, yeah.  But, with power and influence comes responsibility and as diabetes bloggers we are essentially representing other people with diabetes, disclaimer or not.

I don’t mean we don’t blog about what we want and say what we want.  But I think there are a few things we could do to help.  Here’s what I mean: (by the way I’ll be working on these myself)

1.  Be clear who your audience is.  Are you writing to those who don’t know about diabetes?  If so, make sure that’s clear to the reader.

2.  Be clear about which type of diabetes you’re talking about.  We need to ban together to make the types of diabetes more clearly distinguished by society.

3.  Before you publish your post, read it as if you were a newly diagnosed or the loved one of a newly diagnosed.  Do you feel like jumping off a bridge?  Consider adding a little something so the reader understands you and is put at ease.  Example:  Writing about how tired and depressed you are to be battling diabetes?  Think of one positive thing and add it.  It will help you and them.  At the very least make sure a reader can gather that you are simply expelling emotions that do not represent 100% of your emotional repertoire.

4.  Be careful about using absolute statements about diabetes.  It isn’t all good, bad, uncontrollable, controllable, easy, hard, always, or never.  If it is that way for you, preface with “I think” or some other sign of ownership.  Also, be careful with citing studies as proof for an absolute statement about diabetes.  Even studies are wishy washy.  They can’t help it.  We’re working with a zillion factors here.

5.  Be careful with causation and causality.  Learn the difference.  Just because your mom breastfed you and you still got diabetes doesn’t mean that breastfeeding doesn’t lower the risk for others-to the tipping point of them not developing type 1.  Just because someone is a thin type 2 doesn’t mean obesity doesn’t raise one’s risk for type 2 diabetes.  Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they don’t have a high body mass index and aren’t clinically overweight.  When we say something isn’t true based on our very limited experience/knowledge, we’re not doing our community any favors.

I’m astounded by how bloggers are given more and more attention and opportunities to represent our community.  I think it’s fabulous.  I also think we could be a little more prepared so that when our time comes, we represent our community in the most helpful way possible.

Because working towards awareness, compassion, understanding, and a cure is something we’ll only achieve together.  And I know we all want those things.

Here’s a thought provoking post from Nathan of Edibles…The Diabetic Edition that I’d love for you to check out.  His insight helped spark the thoughts for this post.

“Kids First, Diabetes Second” Book Review

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“Kids First, Diabetes Second” is the first book by Leighann Calentine, who has a young daughter with type 1 diabetes and writes the popular blog D-mom.com.

This book is for someone who has a child with type 1 diabetes.  Whether your child has just been diagnosed or has had diabetes for a while, this book would be a great resource to have at home.

Leighann seems to be one of those moms that is really organized and determined to figure things out.  Her child has only had type 1 for six years and yet she has worked to bring order and efficiency to their routine all the while, prioritizing her child’s experience of childhood.

I really respect these efforts.  I think it’s very sweet to see parents work so hard to acknowledge their child’s feelings and unique struggle while still taking care of their health with something as delicate and volatile as type 1 diabetes.

This book has helpful and practical information on many common scenarios involved in raising a child with type 1 diabetes like school, birthday parties, sports, and play dates.

I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone who has a child with diabetes.  Leighann is one smart cookie and I would expect anyone to get lots of value from this book.

That said, speaking as someone who did grow up with type 1 diabetes and is now an adult who can look back, I’d like to share a little bit from my experience.  It’s unique to me but perhaps not so uncommon and I think it may serve as a gentle reminder on the emphasis we may give diabetes:

Now that I’m 29, I can honestly say I don’t regret those times I felt left out at school.  They didn’t scar me.  The times I went to birthday parties and couldn’t have cake were not big deals.  Or maybe at the time they were to my young mind, but I learned to appreciate the true meaning in a get together, which was the friendship and fun and laughter involved.  Other kids may react differently to experiences like this so I understand that everything varies depending on the personality of one’s child.

Now that I’m 29, what I do regret are all the times my blood sugar was less than great as a child with diabetes.  Childhood is a short period of time compared with adulthood.  To face complications in young adulthood is a scary thought or reality that no cake or ice cream could ever relieve.  In adulthood we contemplate having a family and we need to be healthy to do this.  In adulthood we need to get through school or some kind of learning experience and be productive and build a life for ourselves and it really helps to be healthy.  For our bodies to grow appropriately in childhood and our brains to develop well we need stable blood sugar management.

I tricked my parents as a kid, so they’d see a good number on the meter when really, I had mixed my blood with saliva to shield them from a high.  But their efforts were very much on keeping our blood sugars controlled even if it meant missing out on something edible and delicious.

Looking back I feel as if it was a gift and a lesson to me and now I can say that I’m not worried about fitting in or missing out on foods and I’m more concerned with being true to my unique self and focusing on the bigger picture.

To me, part of the bigger picture is that our society and it’s habits around food are in such a dangerous state, that instead of figuring out how I can fit in it, I am figuring out how to live well despite it even if it means not enjoying many things.  Actually, I’ve learned new things to enjoy so that I don’t feel deprived, my blood sugars stay stable, and I’m also leading the way for my family.

I am teaching my two young children not to fit in to the American way of eating and many aspects of the American way of living because I don’t see it as healthy.  And I hope that makes it easier for them to be healthy and happy adults who instead of figuring out how to fit in, choose a better alternative.

So while I have NO DOUBT that Leighann will raise a healthy and intelligent daughter with diabetes and her book is full of information that is not to be missed, I hope you’ll keep in mind that as a child enters adulthood, diabetes may tie for first.  It ties for first in my life and I’m ok with that because I have found no other way to stay very healthy.  And that allows me so many more pleasures in what I hope will be a long, long life.

To buy this excellent book, go here.

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