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The power of effort
Every morning I tell myself, it’s a new beginning when it comes to my life with diabetes. No matter the circumstances at bedtime, waking up is always a fresh start. But I didn’t always see things like that. There was a time not so long ago that I dragged the past onto the present and my mornings were spent in the gloom of dreadful numbers, too many lows or other diabetes related disasters. It’s taken effort and diligence to see things differently along with the help of health care providers with an open mindset.
I’ve talked before about the indoctrination that happens in the Diabetes Online Community. How finding what seems to be the right support group on Facebook or Twitter can turn into a place where one can feel shamed and hopeless. This happened to me.
After being told to read low carb books, to avoid this or that, to make sure my time in range was between such and such and comparing myself to others and their perfect flat lines and A1c’s, I started to feel like everything I did was doomed to fail. What made matters worse was when my diabetes educator confirmed that my plan to stick to avocados, eggs and five green vegetables was a good idea because my numbers were so good.
I didn’t realise I could ‘fire’ my CDE, leave the Facebook group and STOP reading those books. I didn’t know that there were other answers because I wanted what I was doing so desperately to work. Things weren’t as desperate as they felt. I was so busy telling myself a story about my diabetes management and what it meant to live with diabetes that I couldn’t be honest with myself.
There is the reality of living with diabetes, and the story I was telling myself. In fact, my relationship with diabetes seemed completely incongruent with how I approach the rest of my life.
I see life as whole and complete. That there is no separation or conflict other than the one I create. The sense of I, the idea I have of myself, creates the problem. Not the external world. Being alive with this knowledge and actualising it in relationship to the very real challenges of living with diabetes has been my effort, called tapas in Sanskrit.
Luckily life is not static and being someone who has always been willing to try and try again even when it feels challenging things have shifted.
But not without tapas.
Before I’d fully decided to put in any conscious effort to see things differently I found myself being drawn to a post on Instagram or a tweet that made sense. I'd read about someone trying a different way of eating or tweaking their bolus or basal rates. Or that they’d found a new HCP or tried out telehealth with a new diabetes clinic out of state. Then someone recommended a book that had helped them or an enlightening podcast.
Instead of watching everyone else try new approaches I took the plunge. I hired a new health care team, I tried a diet much more conducive to my mindset, one that aligned with my core values. I reached out to a diabetes specific psychologist to manage the accumulated daily stress and after making those changes I started to put in the effort to implement their suggestions.
That meant, weeks of trial and error to get my insulin to carb ratio right for a variety of foods. Being willing to experiment with more adventurous exercise. Daring to go low or high even when it felt terrifying. Reframing what I told myself about my A1c and my time in range and quitting Facebook groups that weren’t aligned with my expanded view.
The effort has slowly but surely brought rewards. I’ve been able to eat a wide variety of foods again including my favourite, sourdough toast with avocado. I’ve been on some adventurous walks in wild Africa. I’ve felt more relaxed about the lows and highs and even with a few setbacks have bounced back more quickly. Most importantly I’ve developed strategies that feel sustainable and I keep reaching out for support when I get stuck.
I may be juggling cats while riding a unicycle on a leaky boat in a stormy ocean but OMG I got this!
With great respect