Diabetes is like Groundhog Day, the movie


#1

Wil Dubois over at DiabetesMine wrote a thought provoking essay yesterday about how living with diabetes long-term is like Groundhog Day, the movie. Wil is an excellent creative writer and has lived with type 1 diabetes a long time. He gets the constant day-to-day drudgery that diabetes creates with its never-ending demands.

Here’s a good description of what we face.

Because to some degree we’re all trapped in the same day, day after day, required to carry out the same tasks. And not just any tasks. Diabetes is replete with endless, mind-numbing repetitive tasks; and if we do them all eternally right, the best we can hope for from our efforts is, to quote my friend Dr. Bill Polonsky, that “nothing bad happens.”

What most intrigues me about this piece is the hope it offers at the end.

Stealing another page from the East [Far East metaphysical philosophies], I can’t help but think about the Japanese tea ceremony. It’s a simple task that’s evolved into a high artform with an emphasis on perfection. Why not challenge yourself to treat blood sugar monitoring the same way? Instead of viewing it as a chore, a burden, a duty, a tribulation—why not view it as a challenge to be perfected? Become a master of the BG check. A martial artist of the lance and strip.

Crazy? Perhaps. But if you can shift your mind to turn an aggravating chore into a challenge, an art to master, why not? Wouldn’t this be growing as a person? As a person with diabetes? Likewise, why not treat a shot as an elegant dance? A carb calculation as an interesting puzzle to solve? Tracking meds as a memory-building exercise? Alarms as a language to learn?

Yes, we’re trapped in this ongoing Groundhog Day, but what we do with the time spent here—for what may be a personal eternity—is up to each of us.

This distills the diabetes philosophy that has sustained me for the last 6+ years of my 35-year diabetes journey. I acknowledge and accept that fate chose this destiny for me. While this is not the life I would choose, if I have to live this life then I’m going to be darn good at it. The pleasure I take from my blood glucose victories adds to my energy and makes my long-game possible.

I highly recommend clicking over to Wil’s column and reading the entire thing.


#2

I have been dancing this dance for 60 yrs, and during the last 18-20 yrs it has certainly become an elegant dance. Being much more strict with what I eat, how much I exercise and how balanced I try to keep my glucose levels has rewarded me many times over with energy, good health, and pride. I too don’t see it as a chore, but as part of the elegant dance. It can still at times be very frustrating, and at times I fall, but I quickly get back up and just keep on dancing.


#3

I think sometimes people view our diabetes routines and think that they could never follow a similar path since they see it as accepting the drudgery as it crowds out “their real life.”

My only regret is that it took me 28 years to discover this philosophy. If you have to do it, you may as well be good at it!

@Marilyn6, congrats on your long-term success!


#4

Thanks for linking to that great article! I look at this issue as just one of many lifestyle changes that can help with our attitudes. When I am in control of my own schedule, keeping up with BG management is just part of my routine and does not sink to the level of drudgery. Those are actually the groundhog days. It’s the times when I have to try to fit my daily routine into a schedule I have less control of (visiting with friends or family, working, long drives, hurrying to finish a chore, etc.) that I sometimes feel a woe is me attitude creeping in after a glance at the CGM. Best remedy is usually take care of the urgent BG management task and start looking forward to being back in control of my own schedule.


#5

When I met with the Tandem trainer who is also diabetes patient educator in my area, he told me that I was one of the most organized and methodical diabetics he’s ever seen. He asked a lot of questions about how I have managed my diabetes since I started taking insulin 3 years ago. I told him the impetus was an A1C of 12.8 and seeing my biological mother’s decline in health due to poor control and her ultimately passing away at age 61. I stopped treating management of diabetes as a hassle.

Planning and routine help me immensely. I like technology and found the MySugr app which helped me identify issues with different foods and their impact on BGs. I sprung for a nice supply kit from Myabetic to stay organized. I became a ninja at checking BGs in every situation and taking insulin injections. I educated myself about designing insulin regimens through basal and bolus testing to figure out what was most effective for me. I’ve been on a CGM for 4 months now which has led to even better control and now have a pump.

I suppose that my job of analyzing data and underwriting real estate deals helps me out in this regard. Within two days of starting the pump, I was able to pinpoint issues and amend the basal rate and bolus calcs to be more effective. Still a little more fine tuning to do but I’m 90% to where I would like to be.


#6

I think this psychological/emotional perspective is key to making good progress. Attitude counts for a lot, as it does in most human pursuits.

Congrats on firmly taking the reins and steering your own course! It’s so much better than playing the role of victim.


#7

Thank you. I feel like my mother just gave up and ultimately it did her in. You can’t really fight genetics, but I’m not interested in making a premature exit off this planet or suffering from complications that I have the ability to prevent. I stopped being apologetic about being diabetic and attending to my own needs.

April 2016 A1C-12.8
January 2019 A1C-5.7


#8

While we all inherited the genes that define us, science is beginning to understand the field of epigenetics. That is the gene expressions prompted by environmental cues.

I am a complete neophyte in my understanding of this science but I’m a firm believer that how we choose to live does impact our health outcomes. I believe that our genetic makeup gives us a range of possible outcomes and then how we live determines where on that range we end up.


#9

Wow, never thought of it in this way! This is definitely inspirational!


#10

Me, with respect to diabetes, I do all the motions, but I just do them with ZERO elegance. Yes I check my bg, while walking down the street or chatting on the phone. Yes I take my insulin, while sitting at the dinner table (probably through my shirt) or while riding the bus (for sure through my shirt!)

I have friends who I’ve had many many meals with but they have NEVER noticed me checking my bg or taking a shot even though I do it right in front of them while talking to them.

Now you could argue that’s a certain type of elegance or grace but I sure as heck do not make it a ceremony. I just whip my meter out of my pocket and boom check it.

Contrast with others I know who clear a spot out on the table, unzip their case with the meter and lancets and strips and all neatly lay them out. That’s never been my style!


#11

Thanks @Terry4, I have read several of Wil’s posts on Diabetes Mine. He is a very good writer, with thought provoking articles.


#12

Well, you diabetes treatment moves may not be smooth but there is a certain elegance in your pragmatic dedication to getting it done. This long-term dance we do may not look pretty but keeping your eye on the prize is what counts most!