Share-a-thon: What has living with a chronic condition taught you?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2013-12-25 19:25:43 -0600
Started 2013-12-08 19:40:51 -0600

When I talk with my clients about living with their chronic conditions, one of the phrases I often hear is “I’ve learned…” They often tell me about life lessons that have improved their outlook on life and their quality of life.

It seems to me that these life lessons are gifts for hard work and perseverance in coping with chronic conditions. Gifts that provide a new perspective on life. Greater awareness of what’s really important and what’s not so important. And what it takes to be happy.

With another year about to come to an end, it seems like a good time to reflect on the year, the challenges we have faced, and what we have learned from our experiences.

I posted an article recently that talks about life lessons and chronic conditions. Here is a link:

It would be great to hear what you have learned. How about sharing?

18 replies

jjuullzz 2013-12-20 15:26:51 -0600 Report

Hi there! I'm new to this site, but thought I would chime in…
Living with diabetes has taught me so much. First and foremost, things could always be worse. I see so many people struggle with so many problems, and I am thankful that I have diabetes, and not something worse. I have learned so much about food, nutrition, and I love finding ways to make my favorite dishes healthy and diabetic friendly!

I have also learned to love exercise, and the important role it plays in my overall health. It makes me feel good and happy.

I love to help educate people on why I count carbs, and how I calculate how much insulin to give. I find people are mostly genuine and always curious. And at the end of a conversation, I always feel great knowing someone else understands a little more about an illness that affects so many.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-12-21 23:10:06 -0600 Report

HI there jjuullzz,

Nice to meet you. I am glad you are here!

You have a really empowered attitude. Sounds like you have taken control of your diabetes, and have gotten educated and are taking really good care of yourself. And educating others is a great way to stay focused -- when you are an example to others, that is an incentive to keep up the good work.

Thanks for chiming in!


Yerachmiel 2013-12-11 08:06:25 -0600 Report

Life itself is a chronic condition! There is only one exit condition and the only question is the length and quality of the life, as well as HOW the end is played out.

Having lived through 52++ years of diabetes, and having started at age two, I don't have ANY memories of NOT having it. I have outlived all early predictions, have recovered from blindness (never get vision back), a fractured foot (diabetic feet are not repairable and cannot heal), gastropaeresis (you'll never be able to eat again) and myriad other predictions of gloom and doom.

I've learned that life is for LIVING, DOING, GROWING, LEARNING, TEACHING, in any situation one finds themselves in. How many parents have told me that I could never understand their child (or their own) fears and attitude toward the diabetes as I didn't have it as a young child? How many doctors have told me that if I would watch my diet I wouldn't need touse medications?

Look at EVERYTHING in life as a pure BLESSING and that is what it will become. If you have been given this, you CAN and WILL make it, if you want to.!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-12-11 21:37:05 -0600 Report

Hi Yerachmiel,

Very interesting philosophy of life. I like that! Let's make the best of our lives, growing, moving forward.

Wow, you are a walking success story, if not a walking miracle as well. That's what I call resilience.

Attitude of gratitude!


jaydoubleyou23 2013-12-09 21:52:10 -0600 Report

I honestly think type one has changed me for the better. It doesn't bother me to think about living with it for the rest of my life, because it's who I am now. It really taught me how amazing and fragile life really is, and made me thankful that I have an opportunity to change myself for the better. I am thankful that we have insulin to keep us going, and it's not something that we cannot control. I know that there are hard times, and certain side effects that happen out of our control, but at least we can do the best we can; that's all that I ask for.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-12-10 22:34:23 -0600 Report

Hello jay!

Nice to see you! I totally appreciate your words. Yes, life is amazing and fragile, we have this one life to make the most of. And chronic conditions can really drive that point home. Thanks!


GabbyPA 2013-12-09 19:30:26 -0600 Report

There are many things diabetes has taught me. One of the biggest things it has done for me is give me a voice. I used to just roll over and be a "yes" kind of person in many ways. Not anymore. I research, ask questions and don't let my doctor intimidate me anymore.

Another thing it has done for me is put me in touch with the healthy person inside of me. I was in there, but I was drowning in junk food, laziness and apathy. Now I am very active in the pursuit of healthy living with the foods I eat, the activity level I have and caring about myself. I am just now learning to put my health in a higher priority over may things. That has been my latest challenge.

I know I will keep learning more and more. That is the one thing about a chronic illness, it keeps on "giving".

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-12-10 22:32:16 -0600 Report

Hi Gabby,

Thanks for checking in! I often hear from clients how they have learned to speak up for themselves, to ask questions and expect answers. It raises the stakes, and gives you a push to get more involved in your healthcare. And as you said so well, your self-care. You have to make yourself a priority.

And yes, the gifts of learning just keep coming.

Always appreciate your wisdom!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-12-09 14:04:32 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Gary, I don't have a problem living with a chronic disease. I look back at the foods that we were served growing up. Even though we always had fresh veggies and meats, we also had a lot of starches and sweets to go with it. Dessert was always available after dinner. When I got older those habits stayed with me. In a sense, being diagnosed with diabetes was a blessing. I learned how to eat and plan healthier meals.

As you know, I don't make yearly changes. I make them sesonally. I don't look back at what I could have done or should of done. I look towards the future at what I can do and will do. Reflecting and delving in the past might help some people to move forward or it can cause some people to remain in the rut they are in. No matter how much you reflect or look at what has happened this past year, there is nothing anyone can do to change those events. The smart person who has made mistakes can take that as a teaching leasson and learn not to keep making the same mistakes.

A new year or new season is time to move forward. If you spent the last year not taking care of yourself, use the new year to make changes that will help you. If you depended on others to be supportive, it is time to branch out on your own and learn to be more reliant on yourself. If you live in denial, anger and frustration, it is time to accept that you have a chronic disease and get that weight off your shoulders. People over time are going to stop feeling sorry for you and stop dealing with you. When a person depends or even expect people to be there for them through thick and thin, over time they lose themselves. People eventually get to the point where they are tired of always being the helper and realize they are helping someone who refuses to help themselves.

Diabetes is not a death certificate and can be controlled if the diabetic takes the time to self educate, communicate with doctors, get the naysayers out of their lives, and develop a more positive attitude.

I have not stopped doing any of the things I was doing prior to being diagnosed. I have never depended on any one to make me happy. I can do that myself. I am still self supportive and self motivated. I enjoy life as much as possible because diabetes will never control my life. I control my diabetes.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-12-10 22:17:48 -0600 Report

HI Joyce,

I always really appreciate your wisdom and empowered attitude. The message of taking responsibility for yourself, doing what you need to do and not expecting others to do it for you, always comes through loud and clear. This is so important for diabetics who, on one hand, have to take so much day-to-day responsibility for their own care but, on the other hand, have the opportunity to take control and really impact their health. As you said, it starts with acceptance, not fighting it. And attitude is so important.

I agree. Keep looking forward. The past has passed.



Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-12-11 11:20:30 -0600 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary. I think a good diabetic is a responsible diabetic. You really can't keep being in denial, not taking care of yourself and expect to not be frustrated, angry and depressed. Much of what happens to so many people in life is they fail to be mature enough to be responsible for themselves then expect others to be there to bail them out when they screw up.

I have no plans to make things any harder than they are of have to be. Diabetes doesn't have to be challenging or frustrating unless you choose to make it that way.

dagger1234 2013-12-08 21:30:58 -0600 Report

I can honestly say I've learned living w/ a chronic condition has taught me how to love myself, mind, body and soul. Also, I learned how to be responsible with priorities over fun. It has definitely made me grow up and realize that maybe the cause of having diabetes isn't a bad thing after all. My brother was diagnosed with diabetes before me and is still eating like crap. My older sister has pre diabetes and still eats like crap also and told me when she heard I had diabetes "that's the one thing I tried to avoid". Not that I was mad but it made me realize that maybe showing them how serious I want to lose weight and control my diabetes will help them they can prevent it more or try harder to love themselves more.

Being Asian/Asian American, we have a higher risk of having diabetes. Both my parents side had diabetes. It's horrible but I am managing. I won't give up and I'm slowly working to be healthier.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-12-10 22:10:30 -0600 Report

Hi dagger,

Thanks a lot for jumping in and sharing your life lessons here. And what a great one. We have to love ourselves first! That means taking the best possible care of ourselves, including eating right, exercising, showing ourselves the love that we show others. It's sad when family members have the same propensity toward diabetes, or have been diagnosed, and don't take it seriously. But I agree, set a good example. Actions speak louder than words.

Sounds like you are on the right path. Take care of yourself! And stay in touch.