Appreciating parents of kids with diabetes, and the parent in all of us

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The excerpt below is from my book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes 26 life-lessons to stay strong managing diabetes. I also wrote another page for the book that I never used. It’s for those of us who have diabetes to parent ourselves. It’s below with the title: “G is for Gently Nudging Yourself Forward.” 

Excerpt: “G is for Grabbing onto Hope for You and Your Little One”

For parents, diabetes can feel like the death of your dream- a child who’s happy, healthy and has every opportunity. The theft of childhood, a new family dynamic, finding the right doctors, exhaustion and worry are now fixed aspects of your life.

You may even feel guilty or like you let your child down missing the warning signs of diabetes. Know that this is not your fault; you couldn’t have prevented it. Forgive yourself, you are the source of your child’s strength now.

Help restore a sense of normalcy for, and around, your child. And don’t neglect your other children, who are also affected. Create special days to celebrate each one of them.

Remember, children take their cue from you and every day remarkable things are happening to change the face of diabetes.

Reflection: Teach the people closest to you how to do blood sugar checks and let them take over now and then. Think who you can ask for support from and what they can do to help. Keeping yourself strong, safe  sure – and not sleep deprived – will most help your child.

NOTE: Here’s one advance on the horizon for Type 1 diabetes.

G is for Gently Nudging Yourself Forward

“It’s not where you start it’s where you finish,” If you’re over 50, you might recognize this line from a show-tune. It’s also a pretty good motto for life. If you want to accomplish something it doesn’t really matter where you start from. What matters is putting in the effort. When you first heard you had diabetes maybe, like the ostrich who buries his head in the sand, it was too much to face and you ignored it. Forgive yourself for any past mistakes. What matters is what you do now.

Decide today you will take one step to take better care of your diabetes. One step. Not five or six or ten. You can open a book about diabetes and read one chapter. Read one internet site. Take one class in your area. If you think you should be eating less or better, exercising more, checking your blood sugar more frequently, do one of these things today. 

In other words, gently nudge yourself forward; let the parent in you provide a shoulder to lean against while you’re moving forward. As you progress, pick another step to take. The finish line is the place where your diabetes is in good control and one step at a time is the best way to reach it.

“Gently” also means be kind to yourself, because changing habits takes some work at first. Don’t decide to run a mile today if you haven’t walked down the street lately. Don’t cut your calories in half, you’ll only overeat tomorrow. Don’t check your blood sugar every hour, that’s neither easy nor kind. But do decide on something realistic you can do from where you are right now.

Remember too, some days will be easier than others. Be extra kind to yourself on the hard days.

If you take small, steady steps forward, no matter where you start from, it’s pretty sure, “You’re going to finish on top!”

Reflection: Write down 1 new step you’ll take today. Be very specific: what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, how much you’ll do, how you’ll do it. Then do it!

You don’t walk alone with diabetes

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While I’ve been sharing each Thursday d-lessons to help you develop emotional strength to manage your diabetes, these are also ways to meet any challenge life may throw at you. So, here’s today’s excerpt from my inspirational D-book,

“The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.”

Excerpt:

When you have faith that you can meet the challenge of diabetes you do not walk alone. You have a direct channel to your inner strength and wisdom; a force that can help you accomplish almost anything. 

Don’t let your faith be beaten down by someone you knew who suffered with diabetes. They may not have had faith or made the best choices or had the benefit of all that’s available today to help manage diabetes.

No matter what, know that there are gifts to be found when you walk this road in faith. So put your worries down and trust yourself. Know that you have an inner well of strengths to draw on when you need them. If you “act as if” you are successful managing your diabetes, you will be.

Reflection: Recall a time you brought your heart and passion to something so fervently you didn’t doubt you would succeed. Decide now that you will bring this same spirit to how you manage your diabetes. Then “act as if” you already do.

As you might imagine, there are 26 more extensive life lessons in the book to help you develop the emotional resilience to manage diabetes – and any life challenge.

“Believe” in your power to manage diabetes

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If you missed my last post, I’ve decided to post pages from my first book,“The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.” I wrote the book out of a personal passion and deep belief that we best manage diabetes when we have knowledge, tools, and – emotional strength to make good decisions every day and ride with the ups and downs of diabetes. 

The book is shares lessons to develop your inner strength and wisdom. I consider it a gift to give yourself or a loved one who is living with diabetes. Here’s an excerpt from “Believe in Your Power.”

Excerpt:

Life will test you; in fact, it probably already has. When life tests you, it’s an opportunity to find your inner strength, to renew your resolve, firm your commitment, clarify what’s important to you and create new ways to achieve your goals.

Having diabetes can be your opportunity to reach for something higher. It can reveal to you just how strong and capable you are. 

Open your heart to your own possibilities. Focus your attention inside yourself and hear your own wisdom say, “I am powerful, I am capable, I control my diabetes.”

Your power to be stronger than diabetes is within you.

Reflection: Today, think about or write down 3 strengths you have that can help you manage your diabetes. For example, mine are being responsible, organized and able to ask for help. Reflecting on your strengths makes them more present and can help you manage your diabetes.

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

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

 

Gets raves from toddlers!

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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. 

😉

A wordless conversation about life with diabetes

Over Passover I left my Apidra insulin and syringe on my brother’s dining room table where we had just finished the seder meal. We had all expected to go back in for dessert, but dessert happened spontaneously in the kitchen with everyone stuffing honey cake and chocolate covered strawberries into their mouths too engrossed in conversation to move back into the formal dining room. Thus, my insulin and syringe were left to themselves on the dining room table unnoticed, and I didn’t realize it until I returned home hours later.

 

It wasn’t a big deal as I had extra insulin at home so I emailed my brother and asked if he would bring my insulin and syringe to a family gathering, a baby naming we would both be attending, two days later. Sure enough, when I saw my brother again, he handed me a little plastic baggie and inside, safely nestled, were my insulin and syringe. You should probably know at this point my brother and I never talk about my diabetes, except on the rare occasions when his ad agency is pitching a diabetes product and he comes to me to learn something, or find out something. I was 18 and he was 13 when I got it, and I have always felt while he is certainly sorry that I have it, the resentment he felt as a teenager who all of a sudden had his parent’s attention removed, started his drift away from me, and it has remained, and with it he has adopted a comfortable ignorance. 

 

However, as I took the baggie from his hand, I saw that little plastic container as a sign of tenderness, and concern. I imagined that his having to handle my insulin and syringe gave him pause to think about what it’s like for his sister to live with diabetes: To take injections several times a day, check her blood sugar throughout the day, and do all the other things I have to do; whether he really knows what they are or not, he knows there are things I have to do in order to live. I wondered too if it created a conversation for him with his two girls, 14 and 17 years old, who’ve never talked with me about my diabetes, but have seen occasional signs of it, whether it’s taking an injection or asking their mother what’s for dinner so I can figure out my carbohydrate intake and my dose.

 

Maybe you’re thinking, so why doesn’t she just start a conversation about it? Some habits are hard to break, and some familial patterns, harder. And while I go across the country and talk to patients about managing their diabetes, there just never seems to be an appropriate opening to start a conversation about diabetes with some family members. My work is rarely a topic of conversation when we’re together and when it is it is more like, “So, did you finish the book yet?” 

 

One day, however, I do think a real conversation will come along about living with diabetes, maybe it will come with his girls when they are old enough to get to know me on their own, not just the seven times a year they see me at holidays. 

 

Yet, unknowingly leaving my insulin and syringe behind, perhaps began a conversation, perhaps between my brother and his girls, perhaps between my brother and myself, just without words. And right now that’s O.K. For rather than get in anyone’s space, I prefer to just recognize that my lifeline came thoughtfully wrapped when my brother handed me my insulin and syringe in a little plastic baggie.