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?