At some point each day, I’ve said these words to myself. This has become my diabetes daily mantra.
1. I am not a number.
Diabetes is a numbers game. The house always wins because the cards are stacked. We are often judged, (often wrongly, by the way), on how well we are managing our diabetes by numbers. “Your blood sugar is 256? What did you eat?” “Why are are 46 right now?” “Your A1C is higher than it should be.”
I am more than a single number. More than a series of numbers. External influences can chip away at the concept of perfection and leave me frustrated. Stress? Illness? Delayed gastric emptying? Too much exercise? Not enough food? Too much food? Gah. That’s called living, everyone.
The numbers that I see on my blood glucose meter are not me; they’re signposts to help me get to where I need to go. The numbers are just points on a graph. Those numbers are a destination, a starting point, and not me.
(Ever see The Prisoner? It was a British show in the 60s that was weird and wonderful at the same time. Every time I say this to myself, I channel this quote from the main character. He says: “I am not a number. I am a free man.” )
2. It’s a new day.
The day may start at 2am with a hypoglycemic reaction and a blaring Dexcom or a high blood sugar and two glasses of water, but I have the opportunity to mold the day into something new. Yes, yesterday may have been fraught with a roller coaster graph on my Dexcom G4 (or problems with seeing that graph) and today may be the same (or completely different!), but I’m going to make the decision to McGuyver it into something that I can live with.
3. I’m not the only one.
There are millions of people who do the daily dance with diabetes (tango? lambada? electric slide?) and there is comfort knowing that I’m not alone. Need questions answered? Medical team. Need an “I get it”? DOC. Need a hug? Family and friends. Or hell, I can wrap my arms around myself if no one’s in the vicinity.
I also need to remind myself that my family is also dancing with me. (Sometimes The Kid provides a little levity when she dances.) My diabetes impacts those around me, so I’m not the only one who has this burden. I have to show my love and appreciation for them and what they live with, too.
4. I can’t undo the past.
After 30 years, I’ve made my mistakes - and not just with diabetes. I can wail and rage all I want about the high A1Cs in my teens and diabulimia and what it may have done to my health, but those years are etched in stone (and my body). All I can do is focus on what I can do today to mitigate the damage by living well from this point forward. It’s OK to remember those times as cautionary tales, but the present is where I need to be so that I can have a future.
5. Take a moment and breathe.
I live at breakneck speed in my head, even though I may be sitting on the couch. If I don’t slow down and take a moment to breathe, I will not be able to think about what I need to do with clarity. Mindfulness is a powerful tool that may take years to master, but only a few minutes to start. Focusing on breathing in and breathing out helps to calm me down and center me, so that I can head off in breakneck speed again - but with a seatbelt and airbags.
What is your diabetes mantra?