Moving through stages and sometimes back again

Shadow and light do co-exist

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On the Road to Acceptance

Like many people, when you first discovered you had diabetes you may have experienced a profound sense of loss. You may have felt that spontaneity had left your life. This is not uncommon, nor is experiencing the 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — as you learn to integrate diabetes into your life. What’s important is traveling through the stages and arriving at the final one, where diabetes is not your enemy but a part of you and how you live.

Denial is a common reaction to diabetes. At times denial can protect us, but not when it comes to diabetes. If you can’t admit you have diabetes, you will not put the appropriate effort into managing it.

Anger often follows denial. You feel, I don’t deserve diabetes! It’s not fair!!!Anger creates enormous stress on your body, mind and spirit.

Next may come bargaining. “Oh, please, if you take away my diabetes, I’ll never complain again…”  But bargaining will not make diabetes go away.

Depression is very common with diabetes. You feel, Why bother? It’s too much. What’s the point? Like denial, if you are suffering from depression, it is almost impossible to take care of your diabetes.

Acceptance is the last stage of grieving and the first in turning a new page. You feel you can take care of your diabetes and live a happy life, regardless of its presence.

Just as life has cycles, so too will living with diabetes. There’ll be stormy periods and then the sun will come out again. You may move through a stage and then fall back in unexpectedly.

Don’t be surprised when this happens. Just make sure that you give grief the heave-ho as soon as you can. There comes a natural time to let go of grieving so you can move on and successfully begin managing your diabetes.

Don’t let diabetes rob you

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Give Up the Guilts

People with diabetes often live with a good deal of guilt. You may think you actually caused your diabetes by eating too many sweets. (That’s not how one gets diabetes). Type 2 diabetes tends to be genetic, and type 1 is an autoimmune disorder.

You may feel guilty if you do not expertly manage the many tasks diabetes requires. But even experts say this can be difficult. Since guilt is not productive, appreciate that diabetes is not an exact science; no matter how hard you work at controlling it, at times it will foil you. Keep your spirits up and experiment with different practices.

Guilt steals your energy; it robs you of feeling happy and contented, being truly present for your loved ones, and above all it interferes with your taking care of your diabetes. Let the guilt go. Know that you will have good days and bad, including days you’ll overeat, are too tired to exercise, will shout at your spouse, and receive blood sugar numbers you don’t like. Just make sure those days don’t turn into weeks and months.

Diabetes is not who you are; it is something you are learning to live with. It does not make you damaged, or broken, or unlovable, or any less a person. It’s not easy being on patrol 24/7, 365 days a year.

Love yourself more fully because you are doing your best, whatever that happens to be right now. Forgive yourself when things go awry. And accept yourself as the uniquely amazing person you are with all your gifts, and yes faults, too.

Living with diabetes takes extra energy, awareness and commitment to your health. So open your heart and let yourself in all the way. When you do, you’ll discover you have an infinite supply of love and resourcefulness to support you every day, even living with diabetes.

Gone Windmilling

The spirit is within you


Well, I would have said “Gone Fishing” but I never have. Rather, I’m off to Holland for 12 days, heading to the airport today. Since I’m in book mode lately, and going on a brief blogging-break, I thought I’d share some reading material from The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes in my absence. The true benefit of self-publishing a book and having a blog.

This and the next two posts are pages from the book. I hope they give you renewed vitality and assurance (if you need them) to do just a little better than you’ve been doing managing your diabetes. I also hope they give you some peace and appreciation for who you are and that you manage a condition every day. 

Someone said to me recently, we are not ill. We were before and upon our diagnosis, but now it’s more accurate to say we live with a condition. A cde also said to me, How we live with that condition either makes us either better.

Let Your Energy Lift You

Often in life, even when you don’t know how you’re going to accomplish something, you discover that just by having a firm intention, the “how” to get the job done shows up. You see with new eyes, hidden doors seem to open, and solutions appear out of nowhere. Intention is so powerful that just by intending to better control your diabetes, you will. Why? Because you will naturally take the steps that support this intention.

Invention can also help you with your diabetes management. You can invent yourself anew as someone who manages diabetes well. See yourself in this new role by holding a mental picture of being a “diabetes pro.” See yourself performing your tasks effortlessly. Feel how relaxed and confident you are. You can become better at managing your diabetes by returning to these images often, or simply by taking healthier actions. Either way, you’ll be on the path to becoming a new you.  

Now let’s look at the power of illumination. You are illuminated, lit from within, when you realize something. For instance, if you know you don’t test your blood sugar as often as you should, or that you could be doing better with portion control, allow that truth to burn so brightly that it burns right through all your excuses — and ignites your intention to do better.

Last comes inspiration. Inspiration is a sense of excitement and purpose that comes from the center of your being. Inspiration unleashes your confidence, strength and power to get the job done. To connect with your inspiration, think about what gives your life meaning and purpose.

Intention, invention, illumination and inspiration are powerful energy forces, and are an intrinsic part of who you are. If you begin to trust them and invest in them, they can help you accomplish magical results beyond your wildest imagination.

The discovery of insulin and how it effects one family

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 5.04.27 PMInteresting read

The first few patients to actually receive insulin back in 1922 make an interesting story in, Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin and the Making of a Medical Miracle.

It all began at the University of Toronto with the discovery of insulin after two years of scientific research and experiments conducted on dogs.

The back story is really the story: the personal and professional struggles of the lead scientist, Dr. Frederick Banting, whose birthday has been taken as World Diabetes Day, November 14th. Banting did not have an easy slog through the myriad of academic regulations and competing researchers’ jealousies. 

Elizabeth Hughes, the daughter of an American diplomat, was one of Banting’s first patients after she managed to live for four years on a starvation diet – the treatment before insulin was discovered. Amazingly, perhaps she lived to be a ripe 77 years old.

While the authors, Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg, guess at times at actual occurrences, the overall arc of the book conveys a true look at the drama of living with diabetes before insulin was discovered and shortly afterward.

We are worth loving ourselves

We can live full, robust, amazing lives with diabetes


If you read my last post you know my book “The ABC’s Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes,” is a hit with the younger set. I imagine it’s the illustrations and her mother’s bedtime voice. But as any good detective, I went back in and re-read my own book. Well, it doesn’t take very long, it’s about 64 mighty, yet short, pages.

I’d like to share the ‘Foreword’ that was written by Susan Guzman, Ph.D. and psychologist at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. While Susan doesn’t have diabetes, she does live with a chronic illness. She is also one of the nicest, most genuine persons I’ve met. Both she and Bill Polonsky, the Institute’s founder, have been an influence on my work. 

What Dr. Guzman says in the book:

“The emotional side of diabetes is often ignored or neglected and yet is such a critical part of living with the disease day in and day out.  It is easy to get overwhelmed, tired, defeated, frustrated and down about diabetes.

In my work as a clinical psychologist at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute we address the emotional and behavioral side of living with diabetes. Through workshops, classes, and discussion groups we offer people a forum within which to share their personal struggles and victories, and discuss and work though difficult emotional issues. Connecting with others who truly understand what it is like to have these thoughts and feelings can cause remarkable transformations. Just knowing that you are not alone with what you are going through, and believing that there is hope in what you are struggling with, can create new ideas, possibilities and motivation.

Sometimes healing needs a change in the way you look at things. It may be looking at your next high blood sugar number and just seeing it as information to inform your next decision, rather than as a judgment of yourself. Or, reminding yourself that it’s impossible to “do diabetes” perfectly, and so aim to do your best. 

At the BDI we have learned that for many people changing their thoughts and behavior regarding diabetes is a long journey, but as Riva says you can appreciate the steps you take. In the end, living with diabetes means taking responsibility and taking charge. I’ve seen when people do that, particularly with the emotional issues of living with diabetes, their management improves, which means their day improves and their life improves.

Riva inspires others to not just live with diabetes, but to thrive with diabetes. With gentleness and wit she challenges her readers to acknowledge and address difficult emotions in an effort to see that we are worth the hard work of loving ourselves.”

Like Susan, I know the emotional side of living with diabetes is just as important as the medical side. If you are having trouble, seek help. And remember, you are worth the work of living well with diabetes. Happy weekend.

“The ABCs of Loving Yourself With Diabetes – a hit with 3-year olds!


Gets raves from toddlers!


I was planning to write something smart and studious about my book, “The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes” given that I just gave a workshop at TCOYD using several of the “loving lessons” from the book. 

But before I could put my mind to it, my mother gave me a better story.

She just spoke to the financial planner we both use, and while on the phone, he told her that every day his wife reads my ABC book to Sarah (their 3-year old). She loves it, it’s her favorite book, and she begs his wife to read it to her. Listen, I told you, you can’t make this stuff up!!!

So, here’s my offer. If you haven’t checked out the book yet and you have a little one at home, I think we’ve just found a new application. 

Make it the storybook you read your toddler. Studies show (well, Sarah shows) that toddlers will enjoy the illustrations and soothing words and you just might absorb the “loving lessons” and grow stronger, happier and healthier managing your diabetes. 


The diabetes blog-o-sphere keeps growing

Ann Gann a newbie blogger


 I think I once checked and there must be over 1,000 people blogging about diabetes. Woohoo! I began to notice, literally lift up my head from my computer screen, back in May when Karen at Bittersweet put out a call to bloggers to join for a synchronized week of blogging [yes, something like synchronized swimming ;-)] and more than 150 answered the call.

First, here’s to all of us who do this relentless thing we call blogging. Second, let me say how grateful I am that you visit. If not for you, I wouldn’t be here, and this is the place I feel the full freedom to write pretty much whatever comes into my head, and heart.

Third, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine who began blogging a few months ago over at DiabetesSisters, Ann Gann. Ann and I have a lot in common and also not so much. That’s why you might want to give her blog a read. Like me, Ann is a peer-mentor and goes around the country giving educational talks to fellow patients. Unlike me, she has type 2 diabetes, is a grandma, lives in a small town, battles her weight and wears a pump. She’s a calm voice in an often stormy sea.

Ann has also been running a diabetes cable TV program in her township of Anderson County, Tennessee bringing county diabetes educators, dietitians school health coordinators and other local resources together to help the greater population of two neighboring towns. In a matter of weeks she took on being the producer, host, scriptwriter, project manager and coffee-bearer. Ann thinks she doesn’t do anything special, but I think a sixty-something year old retired school-teacher traversing the country to educate others, producing a TV show and writing a blog are kinda special.

I encourage you every once in a while, if you don’t already, to take a spin around the blog-o-sphere. Everyone brings something else to the party. Here’s Bitter-Sweet’s list of bloggers captured that amazing week we all raised our voices. You’ll also find a chorus of voices at alltop.

Then come on back ya’ll, as Ann would say, and we’ll carry on again.

My TCOYD Providence weekend

It began with a cold that erupted the night before I was to Amtrak up to Providence, Rhode Island and speak at the Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) conference. Don’t even ask about that night’s sleep, or lack thereof.

The next day disembarking at a little train station in Providence – of course I could only think of the popular TV show of the same name a few years ago – I checked into my hotel room, flopped on the bed half comatosed and toyed for the next two hours with venturing out to find dinner or ordering room service. I love exploring new places – and that includes peeking through restaurant windows and the chance encounter with someone at the bar, or a friendly waiter, so my gregarious nature won. It didn’t hurt that the concierge told me I was only four streets from Little Italy.

Meandering up the road I found Andino’s. A friendly host set up a special table for me. I didn’t mind that I was near the glass and metal door to the outdoor garden which banged every time a waiter or patron entered or left. No, I was relaxing to Frank Sinatra on the stereo, the aroma of real family cooking and in short order the place filled with boisterous locals so who could hear a door anyway?  I couldn’t finish the house speciality, veal Andino, and truly wished I could have shipped it home on ice. Alas, the true disappointment of travel, you can’t keep your leftovers. Ah, but you came to here about the conference.

300 people got their first taste of TCOYD and I learned from my informal polling that everyone was loving it – learning a lot and duly impressed with the presentations, experts and inspirational speakers. Just to name a few CDE/psychologist Bill Polonsky was there, Urban Miyares – who has overcome every diabetes complication and just keeps going like the Energizer Bunny – was our inspirational luncheon speaker and type 1 race car driver, Charlie Kimball, closed the day. Personally, I think Dr. Steven Edelman, founder of TCOYD and type 1 himself since the age of 15, is amazing. Both in his informational delivery spiked with humor, and his passion, vision and execution of bringing education directly to patients. 

There were 80 health care providers also in attendance for credits and my favorite workshop was the afternoon’s “Diabetes Police and Diabetes Criminals Working Together.” If you’ve heard the term “Diabetes Police” you know these are usually our loved ones who think they’re helping when wagging their finger in our face saying, “You can’t eat that!” I guess HCPs fall under the Diabetes Police banner at times too. The session was comprised of both patients and providers and we spewed forth our irritations with the other to clear the air and then sought solutions so that both patients and providers would take away some ideas from each other how to work better together. 

I was on the afternoon roster of workshops and delivered a program to help us all take more loving actions to better manage our diabetes. I also shared the secret mindset that most who are managing their diabetes successfully use. I also shared some great patient stories from my interviews and “loving lessons” from my book, “The ABC’s Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.”I’m happy to report there were very few empty chairs and so many people told me afterward, “We all need to hear more of this!”

So, the weekend was for me just as rewarding as for those who attended. There’s little I enjoy more than touching someone else’s life (so selfish). I got a great dinner out of it and got to say “hi” to my fellow peer-mentors and infamous diabetes bloggers Kerri Sparling and Bernard Farrell. Boarding Amtrak to return home the following morning, truth be told, I was only bummed to discover there was no wifi aboard. When they call “All aboard!” doesn’t that include wifi? Otherwise it was a charmed weekend. 

Through conferences and health fairs held in cities across the nation, TCOYD annually brings thousands of people with diabetes, those at risk and their loved ones into contact with national and local medical professionals and others with expertise related to living with diabetes for a day of highly informative and motivational programs. 

What if we change the question?

Raw foods for 30 days


Now that Labor Day weekend is over and the cool fall breeze is bringing me to life, my thoughts raced back to something that happened earlier this year. (Yes, there’s a video here, but I’ll get to that later.)

I was giving a talk at Time Inc as part of their employee wellness program in June. About 20 employees were there, some with diabetes, some who have family members with diabetes and a few who have pre-diabetes. 

What I remember most about the talk was a very open, overweight man who asked a lot of questions. He had pre-diabetes, was already taking pills for diabetes-related conditions and wanted to know more about pre-diabetes and its link to type 2 diabetes. 

I told him that most people with pre-diabetes get type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years. That there’s a reason why they call it “pre-diabetes.” I also told him you may prevent this by losing some weight and getting active. Both of which he needed to do. 

Not unusually, he gave me many reasons why losing weight and getting active were nearly impossible for him. And then my mouth got the best of me. “So, you’re telling me,” I said, “that it’s almost impossible for you to lose weight and get some exercise?” “Yes, he agreed.” “What if the only choice you had was to lose some weight and get active or die?” He looked at me. Intensely. I could see I had shocked him. I could also see he was thinking. “What would you do?” I asked.

“Well, when you put it that way,” he laughed, “I’d lose some weight and exercise.”  

If you have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes and have wanted to lose weight and get more active, ask yourself the same question, “What if there were no pills for you to take and the only choice you had was to lose some weight and get active or die?” What would you do? It may just help you see that you do have some power over your health, and your choices. 

In the Diabetes Prevention Program in 1992, 3,000 participants with pre-diabetes proved that moderate weight loss (5-10%) and exercise reduced the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 58! A higher percentage than the control group taking Metformin (brand name Glucophage.)

On another note, back to the video up there, here’s one choice I can’t say I subscribe to, but I do find interesting. Eating raw foods. Some swear by it. 

Turning a page at 11:05 PM tonight

Keep the connection going

First, I have to thank everyone for their birthday wishes on my Facebook page today. Quite a delight to see first thing in the morning.

Second, I have to tell you that many people have noticed my infusion site tattoo as I’ve wandered around the big apple this week, giving me the opportunity to enlighten a few folks as to insulin pumping. You should have seen their faces!

Third, a friend once told me that in New Zealand, on your birthday you do nice things for others

So, my first task is to pass along my friend, Manny Hernandez’s (founder of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, tudiabetes and estudiabetes) request for a small donation to keep these amazing social media sites, and the outreach projects Diabetes Hands Foundation does all year, thriving. The work of DHF keeps thousands of us connected and generates continual awareness of diabetes, both inside the community and out. 

With your donation you may receive a copy of the Foundation’s poetry book,No Sugar Added, but you’ll definitely get that lovely feeling of helping others. After I make my donation, I’m going back into the city to return that birthday belt that looked so darn good on the rack and so darn bad once I got it home. Drat!

Happy day everyone.