A life touched by type 1 diabetes is hardly espoused by just one — it becomes the family's disease to embrace as well. But how does one possibly find contentment in a lifestyle that is occupied by counting every crumb and aiming insulin at it?
People will often ask me, "How do you do it? How do you manage this disease for yourself and your daughter and not lose your mind?" Instead of curling into a ball in a corner somewhere, I try my best to live positively and in the present moment.
It may sound cliche, but truly try not to let tomorrow rob you of the joys you can experience today. Trust me, I know it's easy to let this happen, you may not even be aware that it is (it's sneaky like that).
The Unique Challenges of Managing Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a rather unique disease: just when you think your dart is on target, a fluctuation occurs demanding quick adjustments. Variations can be minute to minute; rather than day to day as seen with other diseases.
Until the early 1920's type 1 diabetes was a disease that brought on certain death. Due in part to advancements in pharmaceuticals (namely insulin) and creative technologies, today there is an extended and greatly improved quality of life with Type 1 diabetes — but not without the users investment in their health.
Regardless of advancements and promises of a healthy lifespan, this disease demands daily vigilance and can be downright difficult to manage. A chaotic sense of self may emerge from a life tattered by worry, self doubt, guilt and failed goals.
Let's face the music here: There is nothing "perfect" about life with diabetes. If that is your target, you are certainly setting yourself up for potential failure.
Parenting to this disease presents a mixed bag of challenges as well. We are asked to do two completely opposing tasks simultaneously day after day - control and let go. Ironically, they are impossible to do together.
Tips to Find Control, Peace with Diabetes
Finding a zen spot is incredibly important when managing a chronic disease otherwise one will be railroaded by it. Take this disease by the horns.
Become an active participant in your care. Viewing this disease as something that has happened to you is a difficult approach to settle with. Type 1 diabetes is manageable and should not serve to restrict your life dreams and goals.
Learn what you can control. Education is powerful, learning the skills to manage this disease on a daily basis is empowering.
Focus on the positive. The power of positive thought is huge, even if you feel like you are circling the drain. Explore yoga and meditation to calm the mind and relax the body.
Find comfort from others. Tap into others that are living healthfully with this disease, learn their tips and tricks. Most importantly, it's a life line with someone who understands what you are going through, someone who can offer support and pointing you in the right direction for information and resources.
Establish a physician alliance. This new connection you are forming with your physician is best viewed as a long-term relationship. If you are not happy with the package (office, bedside manner, availability, etc.) consider consulting with a new provider and perhaps you will find a better fit.