Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. She and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes can feel like a runaway train at times; it’s constantly being predicted or chased and thrown corrections at. At other times, it’s all tucked in and it has an easier, palpable rhythm to it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living with and parenting a child with type 1 diabetes, this is it: there’s no "perfect" with diabetes.
Truth be told, if we set ourselves up in such a way that we’re always seeking something better, something shinier, we’ll always live in a place of disappointment and frustration with this chronic disease. There’s something to be said about "trying your best," and tomorrow "being a new day."
Falling short of perfect is a normal part of daily life with diabetes—even when you’re giving it 100 percent.
Create realistic goals
Goals should be the same day to day, while realizing that every day may also bring unique challenges. Traveling, eating out, illness, lack of sleep, and changes in your exercise regime are just a few examples of daily curveballs.
When things are off kilter, diabetes is sure to be as well.
The American Diabetes Association recommends setting “a few smaller goals at a time” and not trying to make too many changes at once, recognizing that “it takes time to build new habits and break old ones.”
How do you go about setting a goal?
1. Pick a specific behavior to change.
2. Identify how often you will do it.
3. Make the goal practical and achievable.
1. I will pack my own healthy lunch every day but Friday.
2. I will eat salad with every dinner.
3. I will walk two miles every morning before work.
Progress, not perfection
Dr. Howard Wolpert of the Joslin Diabetes Center sums it all up nicely in the New York Times: “The important focus is to try to integrate diabetes into one’s life, rather than having diabetes and its demands control one’s life.”
How do we achieve this? My mantra has always been: person first, diabetes second. I have diabetes, but it doesn’t have me.
Trust me, I know that the never-ending rotating list of tasks can be exhausting. With no end in sight and the same to-do list sitting in your mental inbox day after day, burnout happens at high rates. Which makes it a high priority to pay attention to how we mentally classify diabetes in our daily lives.
Many people become frustrated with their disease. And if they can’t beat themselves up enough over it, they just take a trip to the doctor so they can finish the job off for them.
Start by making an appointment with a provider that you know is a good listener. Many people with diabetes remain confused on important points about their disease and how to manage it. With some simple changes and commitments, I’ve seen remarkable changes in A1c values between three-month checks.
Find a provider that builds you up instead of taking you down; through support, education, and a solid commitment to one’s health, practical successes are achievable.