I am sure by now many people have already long forgotten their New Year’s resolutions (I mean, it has almost been a month since we made them!). I am always thinking about how I can do something differently with this disease that I have been so graciously blessed with, and how I can make my life a bit easier and inspire others to do the same. No matter if you have lived with Type 1 diabetes for most of your life, or if you have just been diagnosed (or even misdiagnosed with Type 2 when you are really Type 1), or if you are just getting used to a change in diet and lifestyle due to a Type 2 diagnoses, there is no time like the present to do things a little differently. Here are some ideas:
- Take time to update yourself on diabetes research, technology and cure updates:
- Regardless of whether you follow the JDRF, ADA or any other diabetes organization; take the time to ask your Endo next time you are in the office what they know or have learned about regarding the fight for the cure, the artificial pancreas project, or stem cell research. Things are changing all the time out there as far as funding from both federal and private organizations for a cure for diabetes, and unless you do your own research, how do you know exactly where your donations are going? It’s also nice to get your facts straight, so that the next time someone asks why the doctors can’t just give you a new pancreas, you can kindly explain some important facts to them.
- In regards to technology, take a step back and look into what’s ‘hot’ and what’s ‘not’ by lurking around the online diabetes community. Read blogs and forums from people like brokenpancreas.org, tudiabetes.com, despitediabetes.com or me! Check out a blog posting I wrote a while back about technology. It’s important to decide what’s best for your needs when it comes to taking care of your diabetes. While an insulin pump is great for some, it may not be for everyone. Do your homework, and don’t be afraid to challenge the medical device and insurance companies. It may take a lot of leg work, but if it’s something that is expensive and life-changing for you, it’s worth the upfront work!
- Volunteer, get involved, or make a connection:
- It’s okay if you don’t have a free second in your day to even check your email, let alone spend hours volunteering for any cause that is near and dear to your heart. Life is tough these days, and with the economy the way it is, and many people working like dogs to just pay their mortgage, and maybe taking care of a child with diabetes or yourself is hard enough. However, if you look into it a little more, many diabetes organizations don’t require that much time. Even if all you can give is 3 hours every 6 months to work a booth at a health fair or spend an hour once a month calling newly diagnosed families, it makes a world of difference. If you don’t live near a JDRF or ADA hub, think outside the box. I recently emailed one of the local mother’s clubs that I joined to just let them know that I am an advocate for diabetes education and if anyone knows of anyone in town who needs support, to please reach out to me. You can also look into your local hospital to see if there is a support group. Often times those support groups get stale very quickly and can use a breath of fresh air from someone who is passionate and willing to listen and share their experiences with living with diabetes. If leaving the house is just out of the question due to time constraints, then reach out online. It’s sometimes helpful to add some positive words or encouragement to someone on an online diabetes chat forum who may be down in the dumps or has recently found out bad news about their disease management.
- Connect with old friends and find new ones. By reaching out to old diabetes chums you may have shared a cabin with 15 summers ago, or by connecting with a random patient waiting at your next doctor appointment, you never know what similarities can get brought up! It’s amazing how so many of us living with this disease, no matter how differently we may live our lives or what our backgrounds may be, are going through the EXACT same thing. Diabetes is a very emotional disease, and when you can connect with someone, even if it’s just for a few minutes, it’s like a year’s worth of therapy!
- Be an advocate, but take a step back and get off your soap box if no one is listening!
- For me, the best thing about writing this blog is no one could read it, or a 100 people could read it, and I will never know if I really got my message across to those that I really want to HEAR it, but I know I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. If that doesn’t make sense, then let me explain. I am constantly trying to right the wrongs and the misperceptions of this disease to anyone who ever asks a simple question about it. Instead of just simply answering a question about my diabetes with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, I feel compelled to go into a lengthy explanation and sound like an old geezer by saying things like ‘well, back in the days before there was fast acting insulin…’ Recently, someone said to me, “Why do you always feel the need to enlighten those around you, especially when they don’t want to hear you?” This resonated deeply with me. No matter how many times I try to explain Type 1 vs. Type 2, or why it’s okay that I can eat cake sometimes, but not all the time…. I need to take a breather. As diabetics, we often make our disease look easy, and so then when we complain about it, people are confused. If you have tried numerous times to educate and get people around you to truly understand (i.e. a teacher, a boss, a close family member), take it all with a grain of salt and know that they will only absorb so much. Just make sure they know enough to help keep you safe in an emergency situation, and other then that, let them judge away and be confused when you either reach for the second cupcake or say no to the heaping of mashed potatoes at dinner.
Finally, Stop beating yourself up! Or at least, work on not beating yourself up so much. Try to find a balance in your life this year, anyway you can!