April 26, 2013

Diabetes – Does It Define You?

In March 2010 when I wrote about diabetes defining me, I had no idea of how much it defines me and shapes my daily schedule. Blogging about diabetes is my hobby and as such, I enjoy my time learning about different topics. Some are admittedly not about diabetes, and some are on the extreme periphery. Yet I still enjoy reading and learning about many of the topics. Many topics may not appear to be about diabetes, but often they are in one way or another.

Yes, I am aware that we are all involved in other activities and can have non-diabetes related hobbies, but without diabetes, would the hobbies be the same ones. Diabetes is what has driven many to certain types of exercise and other activities that help in our daily exercise. I think without diabetes, many of us would not be in as good health as we are today.

A great blogger and a mentor to me, David Mendosa says, “he thinks a lot about diabetes because that is his job. And since I do think a lot about it, I manage it. ” He continues, “But I hardly think about diabetes all the time. I think a lot more about getting out in nature and being there, hiking and taking pictures. I am also a big reader. And hardly just books about diabetes.” Yes, David, and thankfully we all gain from your writing, and photography. I do have to question, if it were not for diabetes and the management of diabetes with nutrition and exercise; would you be such a great photographer of nature and scenery? Probably – that is your nature.

Some of the defining points that I have noticed in people and especially friends with type 2 diabetes is the attitude about diabetes and the importance of diabetes education. The attitude pervades our daily activity, reminding us to care for ourselves and often care for others. Our daily activity incorporates our feelings about diabetes and how we perceive diabetes in our daily activity.

Then our attitude reflects about how we feel about diabetes management and mixes the education into our management routines. Our diabetes management efforts are reflected in our attitude, daily activities, and how we accept others with diabetes. This is often revealed by people that have diabetes and avoid contact with others that also have diabetes. This desire for diabetes secrecy is the unhealthy side of diabetes that prevents open discussions and often leads to poor diabetes management that is fostered by a poor attitude about diabetes.

So does diabetes define you? To some extent, diabetes may not completely define you, but I think that diabetes does strongly define us and who we are. It affects our attitudes, daily activity, and most importantly our diabetes management, whether it is the good or bad definition. Since diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease with no vacations, it has to affect us and define us to some extent.

When people actually stop and think about it, diabetes does affect the decisions those of us with diabetes make on a daily basis. It affects the foods we choose, which fortunately are healthier for us than the ones we were eating before diagnosis. It affects the restaurants we patronize, the snacks we eat and to a large extent, what we do.

While I could say I don't want my life defined by diabetes, I find it is, and in some ways, this definition is a good thing. It has caused me to be more conscious of my health and to be much more proactive in my health care. While some of my doctors may not be overly happy with my being proactive, most are happy and actually talk with me rather than at me. My diabetes has also forced me to be more social in the way I look at things, and more important, more willing to accept changes. While I am still feisty and ill tempered at times letting my negative side get me into hot water, I am finding myself mellowing and becoming more even in my approach to life.

Finally, thoughts of denial are no longer part of me. While I can't make the same claim about depression, it sneaks in now and then, but even these episodes are lighter and easier to conquer. Life with diabetes is better for me and I am more positive about life.

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