Glass Half Full: Life With Diabetes

The other day my six-year-old said to me “Mom, the good thing about having diabetes is that you’re not fat.” I laughed and thanked him for pointing out one of the pros of diabetes. Too often I focus on the cons of living with diabetes because, frankly, there are so many. But what good does that do me? I like to think of myself as a glass-half-full kind of person, but when it comes to diabetes I tend to look at the glass as nearly empty. So in honor of my six-year-old’s observation, I’ll focus on a few positive aspects of living with diabetes.

Living with diabetes has taught me to say yes. When I was first diagnosed, my parents promised that diabetes would not keep me from doing anything my friends were doing, and I believed them. When I wanted to spend a semester in high school traveling across the country in an Outward Bound–type program called “Mountain Classroom,” they said yes. They believed that I could do it, so I believed it too. When I wanted to live in Italy for a semester in college, my parents said yes. By the time I graduated from college the habit of saying yes had stuck, and I said yes to running a marathon and yes to jumping out of a plane and yes to driving across the country and yes to marriage and yes to motherhood. I’m not sure I’ve ever said no because of diabetes.

Living with diabetes for three decades has taught me to prioritize my health. I eat a healthy, low-carb diet, I exercise daily, and I try to get eight hours of sleep each night. I make time for myself and for my friends and family. I go to my doctor regularly and test my blood sugar frequently. These habits help me stay fit and healthy, and set a good example for others.

Living with diabetes has taught me to listen to my body. I am highly attuned to my physical self, and after all these years I’ve developed the ability to shut out the distractions of the outside world and pay attention to a yawn, or a feeling of thirst, or blurry vision, or shaky hands, or unwarranted sluggishness. When I’m not feeling “right,” I stop what I’m doing and respond to the call of my body. I’ve found that this habit helps me listen to the physical and emotional needs of others.

Living with diabetes has taught me to ask for help. I was raised in a family of independent self-starters. People who would rather rub two sticks together to build a fire than ask to borrow a light. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, it made me extremely uncomfortable to ask for help when my blood sugar was low. I learned the hard way that not asking for help could land me in the hospital, and eventually, I saw that people wanted to help. When I was diagnosed with depression[1] last year, I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t in fact, a supermom, and I asked my family for help. There was not even a second of hesitation before my family wrapped their arms around me and circled me with love and support, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Living with diabetes is an exhausting and often frustrating journey, but it has made me who I am. It has made me a stronger person. I’m glad my six-year-old reminded me to look at the glass as half full, because I’d rather look at what I’ve gained instead of what I’ve lost.

There are steps you can take to make drinking alcohol safer with diabetes. Bookmark[2] and tune in tomorrow to learn more from nurse David Spero.

  1. diagnosed with depression:

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Amy Mercer: Amy S. Mercer is a freelance writer living in Charleston, SC, with her husband and three sons. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 14 years old and has written two books about living well with diabetes — The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes: Authentic Advice on Everything from Eating to Dating and Motherhood, and The Smart Woman's Guide to Eating Right with Diabetes: What Will Work. (Amy Mercer is not a medical professional.)

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