Dr. William H. Polonsky
Dr. William H. Polonsky

I’ve had diabetes 35 years and it was only two years ago I heard something so profound it blew me away. So empowering I wanted it to be the first thing you read here. I was in an emotional coping with diabetes workshop given by Dr. William Polonsky, PhD, CDE and founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. He was speaking at the Taking Control of Your Diabetes conference I attended. He opened by asking us, “How many of you have heard diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness? If so, raise your hand.” Hands all over the room flew up. “How many of you have heard diabetes is a leading cause of stroke and heart disease?” The hands stayed in place — up. “How many of you have heard diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease and limb amputation?” Well, now everyone’s hand was up, right? We’ve all heard this.  “Wrong!” he said. We sat dumbfounded. “Poorly controlled diabetes is a leading cause of these things.” See those first two words? Wow, I had to replay it again in my head. When does any doctor, magazine article or TV ad ever stop to give us the fine print? Pretty much never. So here’s the very fine take-away:  keep your blood sugars in good control and you’re not the people they are talking about when they jabber, jabber diabetes leads to all this stuff. For me, it was a truly enlightening moment and a gift that keeps on giving.

I took one other crucial thing away from Dr. Polonsky’s workshop that day. Literally, I took it away. Well it was being given out, I didn’t steal it. A little stickie to put on my meter. It shouts “Hey it’s just a number!” every time I come near to test. Not vocally of course, but I see it and then hear it in my head like a little mantra. Chances are you know we’re not supposed to look at our blood sugar numbers as ‘good’ or ‘bad, (even though they call it testing) or take them as a statement of our worth (hard to do when your meter’s screaming 265!). No, we’re merely supposed to use our numbers as data, you know feedback for course correction.  Well, I have to tell you this little stickie really helps. So here’s my advice — write it on a little piece of something sticky like a label and slap it on your meter. There’s a whole lot of mind-shifting power in this 2 cent, primitive, pre-digital tool.  

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