Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We 'the Diabetics.'

We don't like being identified as 'diabetics.' Diabetes does not define us, we define the health challenges diabetes brings to us. The problems that we face, wage war against, lose to, defeat, and acknowledge make us stronger people. Our struggles are unique and we acknowledge that everyone else has to deal with their demons too. If we all sit together and throw our problems into a basket - eventually most of us will end up taking our own problem back. Problems cannot define us - it is how we deal with the curve balls life throws at us that help to eventually make us better, stronger, more compassionate and less judgmental.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I was afraid. That was indication that I needed more information. To me fear means ignorance and being afraid propels me to ask questions and hunt down answers. Thanks to the web and access to doctor friends I was able to arm myself with enough information to know that I needed to act, needed to take charge, needed to make changes so I could overcome my fear. I had no family history of diabetes, other than cousins with whom I had never discussed their condition. Information is available from medical text books, websites or research papers; in addition I needed to have first hand information from those dealing with diabetes everyday. Forums, social networks, support groups - the people here are the ones I learn from and when I hear their struggles I can appreciate how well I am doing, or build on hope that I can continue to do better.

I come from a culture that has rice and fish as their staple. A culture in which life revolves around food. Where a simple everyday meal is actually 5 courses.
Feast for one!

Everyday Meal
The first thought that came to mind on being diagnosed was, "I have to give up rice." That was 'myth #1' playing its trick on me. As time went on and I learned more, the myth changed to fact, "I have to control the portion of rice I eat." Not as depressing. :) "I need to up the quantity of non-starchy vegetables on my plate." Completely doable. "Fry less, grill more!" So much less time in the kitchen. I like it.
Grains, greens, & fish! hmm hmm good!

That is how knowledge and information slowly but surely took the fear out of my equation of dealing with diabetes.
(Bood sugar - (rice + sweet treats) + doctors) X FEAR = END OF LIFE AS I KNOW IT.
Changed to
(Blood sugar + portion control + healthy lifestyle + medical supervision) X INFORMATION = Controlled Blood sugars and feeling great!

Information put me in control. I was able to adjust to lifestyle changes because they were not dictated by others or by fear, but by my understanding of what was needed, why it was needed, how I could measure and monitor my progress and experiencing how good it all felt. I no longer fear the rice or the rice-pudding on my plate. I have experienced how good robust coffee without sugar really tastes. I have discovered I love bitter melon, kale and carrots. I have developed new recipes of foods that taste even better without potatoes. All, while I continue living life as I always did, just a little more consciously, keeping myself present and enjoying life as a purposeful event.

No, I am not a diabetic. I am this complete, beautiful, irritating, compassionate, 'sweet,' silly, lazy person - who happens to have diabetes. I enjoy living a sedentary lifestyle - reading, writing, watching TV, sleeping and sharing the skills I have acquired over half a century to make the world around me a little better. No I do not identify myself as a diabetic - except to say that diabetes is a part of my life.