It is an absolute pleasure to be a guest blogger for DiabetesSelfManagement.com for the next couple of months. I have written numerous articles for Diabetes Self-Management magazine over the years and welcome this new opportunity to engage in a dialogue with other folks living with diabetes, with practitioners working with people who have diabetes, and with friends and loved ones who care about people living with diabetes.
A little bit about me: I have been living with Type 1 diabetes for 28 years. I am the mom of two wonderful children, ages seven and four, and have been married to a fantastic partner, Fred, for almost nine years. I am a freelance writer and educator and writing about diabetes is one of my passions. In 2002, my book Insulin Pump Therapy Demystified (Marlowe & Company) was published. It is amazing to me how much technology has advanced since I was researching and writing my book! I have been a pump user for twelve years without a moment’s regret.
I view living with Type 1 diabetes as a marathon, and I’m in the game to make it to the finish line with my well-being intact. Some days, the race exhausts me and at other times, I barely notice all of the work that I have to do to keep myself going. To stay motivated about managing my diabetes, I make space for spiritual and emotional expression. Going the distance with Type 1 diabetes comes with its moments of frustration and even depression. To combat these feelings, I turn to my writing, my yoga practice, being part of a loving and supportive synagogue community, and my beautiful family and close circle of friends. One of the gifts of living with diabetes for me has been developing a deep appreciation for life and an ability to not take life for granted. Have you experienced similar or different gifts from living with diabetes? What have they been?
This past week, I was really moved watching the American Idol season finale. There on stage was contestant Crystal Bowersox — an ultra-talented musician/performer who revealed to the American Idol audience that she has Type 1 diabetes when she made an offhand remark about her insulin pump. Crystal, a young woman of 24 who has been living with diabetes since age six, clearly has not allowed living with Type 1 to limit her from pursuing her dreams. In recent interviews, she has begun speaking about how difficult it was to grow up poor and not have the money she needed for her insulin and other diabetes supplies.
If you’re an Idol fan like me (yes, some mindless TV watching is also an important part of my daily destressing routine), you know that the season finale always features an array of established rock/pop music icons, and this year’s finale included a rocker with Type 1 diabetes, Bret Michaels. Michaels, who has been much in the news lately because of his recent health scares, just won The Celebrity Apprentice, where he was raising money for the American Diabetes Association. Throughout the Apprentice season, Michaels put his story of living with Type 1 diabetes (like Bowersox, also since age six) into the series: showing on camera how he gives himself shots, stopping in the middle of high-stakes tasks to eat when he felt his blood glucose getting low. Watching Bret on The Apprentice gave a window for the viewers at home to look through and experience the daily challenges of living with diabetes.
So when I saw both Crystal and Bret sharing the American Idol stage and making their passionate music, I felt a surge of appreciation and connection for who they are and what they are doing. Though we may not be in the public eye or vying for a high-stakes contest, each one of us living with diabetes shares a story about making a commitment to doing what it takes to live a healthy life. We are in this marathon together. Tell me about your story and what helps you to stay motivated to stay in the game.