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A Shout-Out to Diabetes Educators: A quick lunch-time post

March 23, 2011

Maybe part of why I’m so comfortable calling myself “diabetic,” rather than the politically-correct “person with diabetes,” is because diabetes occupies such a huge part of my life right now.

The significance of my diagnosis is  something I am continually amazed at, as I chronicle the events of the past year of my life. Diabetes has been a game-changing moment in my life.  Discovering that an organ in my body was not working, and perhaps hadn’t been working for some time, was an epiphany of an event.  It centered me in the very physical space I inhabit. It brought me to the very immediate truth of my body.

I am still me, but magnified.  I remember an old roommate of mine, a Muslim girl, telling me how fasting during Ramadan gave her whole life more purpose and intention. It made her more focused, more disciplined, more productive. Diabetes gives me the same sort of intention, and everything I do now has that little bit of added purpose. The constant meditation in my life – glucose check, insulin shot, correctional snack, glucose check, meal, bike ride, glucose check, etc. – gives a framework anything else I do. Diabetes is my new ground zero. (I’ve been feeling the same way about my daily vipassana meditation practice too, btw…but that’s another post.) It doesn’t take a disease to get that sort of intention, but a disease does have a pretty stellar way of giving your life purpose.

Today I’m feeling particularly grateful for the extended community of diabetes supporters I have. I admit it, diabetes can be pretty lonely. Sometimes I want nothing more than to have a long philosophical discussion with someone about exactly what kind of snack to eat before a bike ride, or how much to bolus before a run. My friends and family care, but they don’t know the numbers. My brain is  a calculator that never stops computing. I’m used to it, but it’s lonely. Also, I became single not long after my diagnosis, and adjusting to a life sans-partner while also adjusting to life with a chronic illness was, to put it mildly, brutal-as-hell. Having a supportive significant other would, admittedly, take the edge off this challenging disease.

That’s why I’m so utterly grateful for my diabetes team. My endocrinologist, nurse and dietitian WILL sit and have a philosophical conversation about my diabetes. They will sit and actually calculate – sometimes with a calculator! – the same figures I so dutifully run through my head all the time…units of insulin, pre-meal blood glucose, grams of carbs, post-meal blood glucose, duration of exercise, hours-since-last-bolus… they sit and they care. They actually care. They have made careers out of caring.

Millions of people live with this disease. Many of us are lonely (hence the vast and wonderful online diabetes community). I am fortunate to have access to free health care from people who, despite working in an overstretched system, never stop caring passionately about what they do. Their knowledge doesn’t just save lives. It comforts souls.

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