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Changes

Wednesday nights at 9pm Eastern is the weekly Diabetes Social Media Advocacy twitter chat (#dsma).  This week’s (3/7/2012) topic was about laughter and diabetes, and honestly it was a pretty damn funny chat!

One tweet caught my eye though during the closing remarks.  I remembered reading it on my drive into work the next morning  and it went something along the lines of

we shouldn’t allow diabetes to change us

While I can certainly understand the sentiment, I’m not sure that is a realistic, let alone fair, request for the vast majority of us.

** I’m speaking here as a Type 1 diabetic who has been changed by having diabetes, so my view may be a bit jaded, tho still humbly correct. 🙂

With the constant demands placed upon us by this disease, we must change in order to adapt to the incredible stresses placed upon us.  Those around us will be changed as well and I think this change should be taken as part of the package.  In fact, this would apply to any chronic condition.

If we don’t acknowledge the changes that are forced upon us, how will be we able to truly accept what diabetes is in relation to our life?  I wonder if those of us struggling with the turmoil that a life long chronic condition brings would view that statement as being in the same vein as “complications, eh? guess you didn’t take good enough care, now did you?”

I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way but, as someone who has been at this for decades (and granted I have issues, lol),  I see that statement as very naive in a fashion.  “Just have a great attitude and it will be ok!”

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, it’s not that clean cut.  We will change because of the constant physical and mental stress that is placed upon us.  We’re human.  The financial and emotional stresses that accompany diabetes will take their toll.  We’re human.  As we go through different phases of our lives, there will be additional changes.  We’re human.

As I’ve been exploring things with Morpheus, I’ve become convinced that not only are changes inevitable, they are normal and to be expected.  As advocates our words can, and do, reach people that we don’t even know.  I often wonder if the length of time a person has had their condition affects not only the perception of encouraging statements but also changes the statements we might make to more accurately reflect what we perceive as important and/or encouraging. So instead of the above phrasing, I think I might say

Diabetes will cause you to change. The trick is to accept those changes.  Acknowledge them so you can roll them into the new you instead of those changes becoming the new you

© 2012 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com

  • Lee Ann Thill

    I knew exactly where you were headed with this after I read the quote from twitter… and my initial thought was also that it was a very naive sentiment.  All of the things that happen to us in life change us, so why would diabetes be an exception?  Diabetes and all that comes with it – the psychological effects, the effect it can have on relationships, financial costs, and of course, the physical toll – change us.  To try and compartmentalize it, pretending it’s some discreet entity that we can forever keep at arm’s length and out of sight is totally unrealistic.  Like it or not, it changes us – a lot – and recognizing, accepting, and learning to work with it (as opposed to fighting against it) will go a long way toward fostering happiness with diabetes.

    •  Thanks Lee Ann

      Compartmentalizing it led to ignoring it. And that led to a lot of the issues that I’m working through with Morpheus.  Given the environment I had growing up, I’m not sure I could have avoided being where I’m at today.  There was no outlet, so everything got buried

  • On the issue of change, I might add the following: “Don’t fight the Change.  Accept it. Respect it. Care for it. Nurture it.  It keeps you in better control and uses a lot less energy than battling and resenting it.”

    But I guess that’s too long for a tweet.  I’m too wordy…guess that’s why I haven’t joined Twitter yet.

  • Bennet

    I think life is a constant process of change. What I hope diabetes doesn’t do is alter our individual core values as we change in life. 

    It is my experience that diabetes functions as a catalyst. It make reactions and changes happen that may not have otherwise have happened. 

    What I hope doesn’t change is the humor that is in the hearts of so manny. If by not changing people mean that they are going on the journey but unwilling to give up the characteristics that give them a unique perspective on the changes they face, I’m cool with that.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. 

    •  At least for me, I don’t think my core values (how I was brought up to act) really changed.  They did get suppressed though by the overwhelming issues that kept shouting for attention that I kept ignoring.  It’s a matter for me to figure out how to really get it all balanced

  • Debra_Gardner

    As a person who was dx’d last year at the ripe ole’ age of 49, I’m here to tell you diabetes changes “everything”. I am not the same person I was before D. What I do with that fact is what makes or breaks me. I have to figure out how to do the things I once did with no thought of my bg, where now that number determine everything I do. Hope that makes sense. We are currently on a long road trip. I need to be prepared, lIke a girl scout. No such thing as spontaneity anymore. But I do what I have to do to live as closely as possible to my pre-diabetes days.

    • Well, spontaneity is somewhat possible, if you plan for it.  Yes, that is an oxymoron.  I have a “go bag”.  Actually my backpack which has spare supplies and I can grab when I head out the door.

      But there is a lot more things to consider and as you get more and more experienced, you’ll learn tricks that can make life easier.  You’ll get used to all the number juggling and it won’t seem so burdensome.  But then again, just like the rest of us, you’ll have days where you want to go AGGGHHH!

      I really like the last sentence of your comment “But I do what I have to do to live as closely as possible to my pre-diabetes days.”

  • Chloe

    Perhaps the statement wasn’t meant so literally, in “don’t let it change who you are inside”. Yes, diabetes changes things greatly, to the extent that those who don’t know well of it can’t even begin to imagine but perhaps the statement was more of “although you’ve been dealt this harder hand in life, don’t let it take over you, if before diagnosis you went out for dinner on Saturdays, don’t let diabetes affect you now”. Maybe it was meant that although diabetes will flip your life in ways you’d never imagined, don’t let it control your life as it’s only a part of you, your diabetes doesn’t define you, but it’s just another “quirk” you have to deal with =)

    •  You’re right, Chloe, that statement could have any number of interpretations.  I like to think that my version of “normal” includes diabetes.  But my normal is at the 40 year mark and someone at say the 10 year mark could have a different take altogether.  Not to mention life stages…  I’m way beyond wanting to have kids, but others aren’t.

      One of the things that really makes our community strong is that we engage in conversations just like this one

  • shannon

    “I often wonder if the length of time a person has had their condition affects not only the perception of encouraging statements but also changes the statements we might make to more accurately reflect what we perceive as important and/or encouraging”

    yeah, i totally agree with this. my kid was only diagnosed 2.5 years ago, and already i know i said things in the beginning i wouldn’t think of saying now. so yeah, good post, thanks.