It’s Hard Work, But We Can Manage

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It’s about 2:45 AM. I have a precious few hours left to write and submit this week’s piece. I tend to do this most weeks, always telling myself that NEXT week, I’ll submit my entry well in advance, and then once again waiting until the wee hours of the morning to sit down and write it. In any event, this time of night seems to be FULL of junk ads. I mean, ALL TV ads fall into the “junk” category, but this hour of the day seems to feature the ones that are even worse than the rest. It’s a stream of “but wait, there’s more” ads, ads for “not available in stores, call now” kinds of items. And on top of the list are the ads for diet pills.

It seems like every single one of these diet pill ads screams the same message: “Don’t change your diet, don’t change your habits, don’t change your routines, just pop a few pills and the weight will FALL RIGHT OFF!” In other words, skip all of the steps you’d need to take to make a SUSTAINABLE and ONGOING change in your health, and just take the easy way out.

Of course, we all know how ridiculous this really is. First of all, who knows whether any of these pills really do a darn thing — there is a reason they’re only advertising at 3 AM, after all. And second, even if they DO somehow magically shed those pounds, the change is guaranteed to be short-lived. After all, if you’re not changing anything about how you’re living your life, you’re NOT going to be able to sustain a substantial change like that, either.

We’re always trying to find that “magic bullet” that gets us the result we want with none of the work, sacrifice, or hardship that comes with really earning it. I see this all the time with music students. They come in and tell me, “I want to play really good jazz piano,” but then they can’t even manage 30 minutes a day of practice time. I’ve had to tell so many students over the years, “you’re not going to go ANYWHERE without a commitment of time and focus — there is no shortcut, and nobody can do it FOR you. Practice, or find a new hobby.”

Living with diabetes, we understand what it means to persevere through difficulty. Every day is hard work when we’re living with diabetes. I don’t mean that in a “self-pitying” way, or even a negative way. There’s nothing wrong with hard work — in fact, hard work is a wonderful thing. It’s something we don’t do much of in this country, anymore, and it’s something we ought to get back, in my humble opinion. But there is no doubt that it can be tiring working day-in, day-out to manage this disease.

When the hard work of managing diabetes starts to feel too heavy, what can we do? Diabetes is extra challenging in this regard. I can always take a day off from practicing if I’m just feeling “stuck” musically. I can use a vacation day if I’m just feeling too burned out at work. I can even take a day off a diet or exercise if I really need the break (though it’s always a risk that a one-day break is the top of a slippery slope toward old habits — but that’s another blog entry). But I can’t take a break from diabetes. Management is 24/7, 365 days a year, including leap year! So what can we do when we feel like we just can’t deal with diabetes?

While we can’t walk away from it, we can certainly find avenues to ease the stress. We can meditate, we can go for a bike ride, we can play music, we can talk to a friend, we can watch our favorite movie, we can sit with a beloved pet. The point is, while we can’t walk away from the hard work of diabetes, and there is no silver bullet that will take care of everything FOR us, we CAN turn to those things that bring us joy, and shift our attention just a little.

Diabetes might be with us every single minute, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat. It’s hard work, but we can manage.

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