A Nod of Acceptance

Giving someone a nod when we see them is often a means of recognizing their presence. It’s not like stopping full-out and saying “How are you?” which can lead to a longer conversation, but it is a recognition of another person and an acceptance of their presence.


When I started working with people who had diabetes, the catchphrases seemed to be “They haven’t accepted their diabetes” or “I guess I haven’t accepted my diabetes.” Sometimes this meant that a person’s diabetes was out of control due to some poor choices, and sometimes it meant that he simply wasn’t paying attention to it. But everyone was looking for a simple explanation for why they were having trouble with diabetes control, and it was chalked up to acceptance.

My impression of acceptance used to be that it was some type of “open-arms” gesture, with a sense of welcoming whatever we were accepting. Since I didn’t believe that this happened for most people who have diabetes, I strongly disagreed with the notion that a person had to accept his diabetes in order to live with it. In fact, I saw many people who hated the condition, like my dad, but managed it fairly well. It seemed clear that it wasn’t acceptance but another term, “adaptation,” that was really important in terms of living with diabetes. I still believe this.

Adaptation is recognizing the reality of a situation, identifying options for how to deal with it, and then acting on the best perceived alternative. If we learn how to adapt, it is a strength we will have forever.

When it comes to dealing with diabetes, a person is certainly encountering change all the time. Change will come with stages of life, physiological changes, stressors, and lifestyle changes. In all of these situations, we must adapt.

I have to admit that I have also adapted my two concepts of acceptance and adaptation. I am now recognizing that acceptance doesn’t have to imply such an “open-arms” invitation to diabetes, but it does mean a willingness to give diabetes a nod of recognition. It’s not always necessary to stop and give it the attention we would give to a good friend, but it is necessary to give it its due: a nod of acceptance that it exists and that, unless we are willing to give it enough attention, it will demand more that we want it to get.

So do you give diabetes a nod of acceptance, or do you try to avoid the reality of its presence?

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  • gerry gfroerer

    I have type 2 & accepted it. With meds & diet change I have it well under control.
    I have discovered all sorts of low carb foods & at one point had reduced my carb intake to much. My avg. count is 105/110. Now I have to work on my calorie count because it’s a double edged sword.(carb count vs calorie count). Ive lost 15 lbs & now working on the next 5.

    Regards Gerry

  • sweetness

    I grew up in a family where all the paternal males had diabetes. I knew it was very likely I would become diabetic. Sure enough. 1st TYPE 2, then 25 yrs later, TYPE 1.5.

    The Rx was LANTUS & then LANTUS + HUMALOG. Injecting to live was a hurdle, a very significant hurdle. I jumped the hurdle one afternoon in the Diabetes Ed Center when the educator was teaching me how to inject. Using a carb to insulin protocal and good results (A1C = 6.9), I accepted my diabetes.

    Just recently something happened to compromise my control: morning glucose in the 150 – 250 range repeatedly for several weeks. Don’t know the cause. However, my acceptance of the disease, through good control practices, has left me very depressed. I don’t know the ending of this story. Looks like some new level of “acceptance” will be necessary.

  • Sharon

    Good article. I’ve had diabetes since my pancreas was removed in March, 2006, throwing me instantly into the world of diabetes. I’ve read everything I can online, in books and magazines, talked with dietitians, gone to support groups and educational programs offered by my hospital. Now I’m tired of it all, the hassle of being tied to a monitor and needles, of writing down everything I eat, not being able to be spontaneous any longer. I’m tired of the self discipline this requires. I’ve accepted and embraced this situation but would love a break from it all. Now that I’ve said that and someone else now knows how I feel, I’ll go back to doing what I have to do in order to live. I had a low today after walking two miles. It crept up on me and before I knew it I was almost disoriented. This was a good reminder to me that I have to do what is right for my body or it won’t function, at all. Thanks for listening!

  • Joan

    Have I adapted to my Type 1 diabetes? Actually I have never considered it before.

    November of 1957 I was told to take my insulin, do not eat sweets or consume alcohol. I refer to this period as the dark ages. :-)) Twenty years of research went by before solutions to living with diabetes were recognised. Among the many solutions was that each of us is slightly different than any other diabetic!

    49 years I have lived with diabtes, married, had two very healthy children, and am in pretty good condition at 71. I count carbs, test 10 times a day, take five to six injection a day of Humalog and Lantus (don’t want a pump). Not all years were blissfully spent, however.

    There were and are years and weeks when nothing “goes right” for me. So? I either miscalculated the carbs/insulin or my system is rebeling for an unknown “new” reason. Adjustments are made and I do what I must each day to ensure a healthy life style. Yes! I have adapted. Is there any other satisfactory choice?

  • Joan

    Sorry to hear about the high BG levels. They can be very frustrating!!

    Wanted to let you know that there have been days & weeks over the past 49 years when nothing I did went right. I finally learned that it was not always ME making an incorrect decision; adjustments were and are necessary over time.

    Some ideas to think about:
    1. The ratio to insulin may need adjustment.
    2. The insulin is compromised in some manner.
    3. Perhaps the ratio should be different for each meal thorughout the day? I have to do this most days.
    4. Perhaps a work related or personal issue disturbs us.

    Keep working at finding a solution.

    Great ability develops and reveals itself
    increasingly with every new assignment.
    Baltasar Gracian

    Take Care Joan :-))
    T1 Nov 1957

  • Renata

    To me when I found out I was hyperglycemic. I was furious! How could I have allowed this to happen? Upon hours of study – I became quite depressed and still angry. My internist – knows nothing about the disease. He said that he would monitor my blood sugar every 6 months or so – not to worry. I purchased a glucose monitor, check the level periodically during the day. My lifestyle has changed. I now eat 6 small meals a day, fruits and vegies and fish and poultry. Working out hard, dropping pounds. I am not ‘good’ all the time but I would say 90% of the time. I continue with martial arts, walking and ‘resting'(very important). It is so hard around the holiday’s – last night I had popcorn and salt at a concert. I find I listen to my body now. I had placed everyone else before my needs all my life-now-I have placed myself first – it is hard for others to accept but eventually they will.Thanks for allowing me to ‘vent’ – I have felt so alone with this thing called hyperglycemia.

  • Ephrenia

    Wow. Have I adapted. I’ve gone from eating junkfood to eating low carb. From sedentary to working out at Curves 6 days a week. From wearing 5x to 2x (and working to go smaller) From staying up late and sleeping in on weekends to being sure to get up for that 7am shot.

    I can really relate to Renata’s comment about putting ourn needs first for a change and others not understanding. I had to get so bad I needed help myself before realizing that I had to take care of myself or I couldn’t do anything for others and would become a burden instead.

    Yes, I adapted. That was better than facing the consequences of not adapting. Acceptance? I guess you have to recognize it before adapting, but you (I) don’t have to LIKE it!

  • Felipe

    I guess you can accept a diagnosis, doesn’t matter the disease, and you can avoid to do anything in relation to your problem.

    For example “ok, i’m a sick drunk boy and i admit it…¿anyone wants to go to drink tonight?”

    Maybe you know that you are not fine at all, and maybe you know the consequences about your disease, but you just don’t want to change the way you live. And it would be a way of acceptance: To know the disesase, the consequences, and keep going in your way that will probably lead you to death. But, ¿if you don’t care about it?

    I mean, a person who wants to “live in a good manner”, accepts a disease and try to live with it avoiding any behavior that could lead to get the disease worst. So, this person take care about himself.

    But if the person doesn’t care about this “living in a good manner”, this person accept the disease but doesn’t change.