Support in Action!


I was really impressed and touched by the responses from readers related to last week’s blog entry on anger (“Anger! What Do You Think It’s Good For?”). I consider it courageous to risk sharing the feelings you have about this condition.

I also think that a very meaningful connection takes place when people reassure one another, as with the comments you gave in response to Mark’s initial comment. It confirms for me the value of support—and clearly shows that it doesn’t take a psychologist to help you feel better. Amazing stories can help, like Ephrenia’s, who lost 70 pounds and is encouraging Mark by suggesting that things will get better. Or the realization, voiced by multiple readers, that with education and determination, life with diabetes will continue to improve. Or Scott’s reminder that feelings come and go—they are not permanent and, with time, improve. I am most impressed with Garnet, who has lived with diabetes since before many of today’s technological advances and whose comment provides some scope about how much has changed and gotten better. (I remember the glass syringes and the Clinitest too, from my dad doing it.) Thanks to you guys for giving each other what I believe to be the most important part of coping with diabetes: support.

I spent this past weekend with some diabetes educators who are also amazing people. We are all volunteers with the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and our meeting took place all weekend in Chicago. This group of people gets together to plan how to support the educators across the country to help them improve how they give those who live with diabetes better education and support.

Most of the people who are on this committee have been doing this work for 10–20 years, and I want to say that they have made a huge difference in how diabetes is managed. I remember the way it was controlled when my dad was alive and, as Garnet points out, things today are totally different. It is not just technology that has changed; the means of teaching and the understanding of individual differences has also improved. We don’t always get it right, but we keep trying to get it better. So the next time you see your diabetes educator, if it feels right, thank him or her for the effort they are putting in.

And keep offering support to those around you who are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

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Joe Nelson: Joe is a psychotherapist in private practice in Minnesota, where he specializes in the psychology of chronic disease and sexual problems and works with couples, families, children, and teens. He has been a Licensed Psychologist since 1985 and has earned a master’s degree from St. Mary’s College Winona, a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota, and an associate’s degree in human services from the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Joe has worked with troubled youth in Chicago and Minnesota and on a special project on Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. He was the first social worker hired by an affiliate of the American Diabetes Association. He worked at the International Diabetes Center for 20 years, directing psychological services there for 12 years. A Certified Sex Therapist, Joe co-developed the Sexual Health Center at Park Nicollet Clinic.

Having practiced meditation for over 30 years, Joe offers instruction in mindfulness-based meditation to patients in groups and as individuals. Joe is married, has a 23-year-old daughter, and enjoys scuba diving, motorcycling, golf, and being outdoors doing almost anything.

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