Overwhelmed. Almost to a person, this is the immediate response to their diagnosis of diabetes. And indeed, overwhelming is a very accurate if not inadequate description of that diagnosis. There is so much we need to understand quickly and also over time. There are so many new things we must do. Test our blood sugar, try new medicines and/or figure out the intricacies of using insulin. A new diet or more accurately a new way of looking at food. Diabetes becomes a consideration in nearly every decision we make every day.
I’m sure many people would argue that controlling your blood sugar in a stable fashion is by far the greatest challenge of diabetes. And to be sure it is right up there. A moving target with an ever shifting bull’s-eye that is seemingly tethered to the wind. But, it is just one of many similar challenges that must be recognized, confronted and managed. Those of us who bear the added challenge of various complications and other autoimmune conditions face even more unpredictable and shadowy opponents.
This list could go on forever. It is different in scope for each of us. But, whatever shape it takes for any individual person it still demands our attention. And, all of these have one thing in common. In fact, they all roll up into the single big issue that is the most challenging for every person with diabetes. That massive overarching challenge is a complete shift in our own personal paradigm of ourselves. How we live our life, the things we do and the beliefs we have around that. Suddenly, in a few words, someone has put all of this on its ear. Our life has changed in an instant. It feels as if we are living in a post-apocalyptic world.
Whether a person has diabetes or not, change is inevitable. No one likes change. We all get comfortable and familiar with our lives and our routines. It feels safe even if sometimes it is not. We just don’t want to get out of our comfort zone. We hang on to how things are because, well, that’s just how things are. Usually there’s not a lot of logic or solid reasoning as to why we resist change. It is just something unfamiliar and since it’s unfamiliar it brings up a certain amount of fear. Fear can be a healthy thing. After all, it resides with us for a reason. It can keep us safe in the face of imminent danger. It motivates us to take cover from the threat. Or, if we let it overtake us, it can become the danger by causing us to take no action or changes needed to avoid the danger.
When diabetes comes calling it brings with it the entire collection of unknowns and forced changes. Any one of these changes could be daunting on its own. Now they arrive at your doorstep. A legion of unknown guests have arrived to live with you. Each making their own particular demands of you. Everything is on the table and nothing is off-limits. They simply take over your life.
At this point you have two choices. You can ignore all of this. Understandably, many people choose this path. At least in the beginning. If you have a house full of unfamiliar and uninvited guests it is not hard to understand that ignoring them for any period of time would not yield a pleasant result. At some point in this process most of us come to the realization that it would be better if we took care of these guests. Maybe if we do this some of them will be happy to stay in their room and leave us alone most of the time. If we are lucky some of them will just leave. But if all I do is ignore them and pretend they don’t exist they are just going to party on and make a mess of everything.
The second choice we have is to greet these guests as we meet them. Try to understand them the best we can and provide for their needs to keep things on an even keel. They have arrived. They have moved in to stay. We must realize that they are not going away. Ever. We are now a bed-and-breakfast for guests we would never have chosen to meet. It is like a really bad National Lampoon movie. And that my friends is really the biggest challenge we all face regardless of what type we are. The paradigm that was our life, our normal eat what you want do what you want life is no longer.
It has been replaced by a new paradigm. One that requires us to acknowledge and care for these guests that we did not invite. This level of change is a very daunting task for anyone. No matter how well you believe you handle change this is over the top. We all have different ways of dealing with this sort of thing. We all need help to do it. We each must come to grips with our new realities. Learn about them and understand them the best we can. But, most importantly, we must recognize and acknowledge them. We must use our fear of change as a motivation for this. Do not let the fear freeze you in place. Don’t let it be a force for building walls and inaction. Embrace your new role as innkeeper. Do what you must to get comfortable with it and make your way forward with your new paradigm.
By recognizing our new realities and accepting the challenge of accommodating and managing them we can begin to move forward successfully. We can build our own new paradigm. It can be just as second nature as the one we left behind. And that my fellow PWD’s is the best way I know of to do this thing for consistent results in the long run. It is just a new way of life. Own it and make it yours.