Reaching Diabetic Nirvana: Dream on, Alice

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Diabetes can be so darned annoying! I was taking three antibiotics and one was discontinued. Good, right? Well, I’ve had to increase my basal rates just a tad. I’m getting tired of my insulin needs going down when I’m taking antibiotics but, as soon as I stop one, my requirements going back up! And that means the infection or inflammation or whatever is going on…is still going on.

It almost makes me want to give up and let whatever is happening, happen. Almost. I’m not altogether stupid. I just want whatever is going on to stop. I can only take so many chronic health situations and, as far as I’m concerned, diabetes is enough.

Except…oh yeah. I also have arthritis and asthma. Frankly, diabetes is the least onerous of the three, as far as I’m concerned.

January 2 will mark 25 years since I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Who knows how long I’d had it before diagnosis. People can have Type 2 diabetes for a number of years before it’s diagnosed.

At any rate, in the nearly quarter century since my diabetes was confirmed, I’ve probably experienced about all of the classic stages of grief as described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

If “acceptance” means that I’m ready for whatever comes, I don’t think I’ve reached it yet. Besides, I’m still stuck in the “depressed” stage. Can you reach acceptance if you haven’t yet passed depressed?

Back in the day, the depression was pretty bad. It’s gotten a lot better. Not only have I gained some — if not total — acceptance, there are these wonderful pills out there… Or, as they say, “better living through chemistry.”

I no longer assume the fetal position and cry. It’s been years since I’ve muttered to myself, “I have to do this the rest of my life?” as I checked my blood glucose, gave myself an insulin injection, or took baby steps at counting carbohydrates. I’m pretty good at carb-counting. I understand why things happen and can make adjustments as needed on the fly.

Most importantly, I understand that things aren’t going to work some of the time, no matter how much I know or how many times I’ve handled the same things with no problem. I’m usually accepting of that. However, not always. It is frustrating when you work to maintain the best control you can and “stuff” still happens; “stuff” that might not have happened if it weren’t for too many years of living with diabetes.

It is better now than in the beginning, when “no,” “don’t,” “can’t” and other negative words were the only ones used when discussing diabetes care. I felt as if I were being stuffed into a box labeled “diabetic.”

Fortunately, before I went totally bonkers, I got to a place where I was liberated from the box and taught how to fit diabetes into my life instead of changing my life to accommodate diabetes.

It’s long been my contention that many people fail to work on managing their diabetes because they’ve only heard the negatives. Perhaps it was in the past and they believe it’s still that way. Perhaps it’s still that way in some places (in fact, I’m pretty sure of that).

I wonder what would happen if everybody newly diagnosed with diabetes (of any type) had one-on-one, individualized self-management education that allowed them to fit diabetes into their lives. Where nonjudgmental educators took individual preferences into consideration and tailored the sessions to address the needs of that particular person.

What if the education was free? What if the educators were paid a decent salary? What if everybody with diabetes got an update every year?

How many limbs would be saved? How many kidneys would continue to function? How many heart attacks and strokes would be prevented? Would there be as many blind people in the world?

Will enlightenment and peace — and acceptance — ever come to all of us? Will we achieve a kind of diabetic Nirvana?

It’s a good dream, isn’t it?

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