Monday, July 17, 2006


Lifestyle Changes Vs. Management

A response to a post of mine got me thinking about the ways people deal with blood sugar control - via management (counting carbs, adjusting ratios, choosing the right endocrinologist, selecting equipment, calculating X-carbs, etc) and lifestyle issues (reducing stress, having good communication with your healthcare team, self-confidence, sense of community, etc). I've tried to keep an "eye" on which approach is dominating my thinking at any given time. Am I checking every post-prandial number or am I getting enough sleep? Am I sticking to the numbers and checking my daily averages and totals in chart form, or am I taking that precious half hour to talk to a loved one about how being a diabetic makes me feel? Am I carefully monitoring my blood sugar through out a work out or am I taking my friend up on an offer to go for long walk without focusing on being a diabetic? Sure, one can do both, but it isn't as easy as it sounds, and its in these little moments that balances shift. The management approach has clear results that can be easily quantified. The other approach, when not directly related to carbohydrates and insulin, is not easily quantified, and yet seems to be more than just subjective. While this dichotomy is being used to make a point, I think it is interesting that one "mindset" - management - can induce stress more easily - it can feel like a game that you keep trying to "beat" but never succeed at conquering. The other "mindset" - changing lifestyle choices - by its very nature is supposed to reduce that sense of failure.

Though management issues are everpresent, living with a constant feeling that life is a pass-fail test would be awful -- and undoubtedly bad for overall physical health. During a brief flirtation with pre-diabetes, when I was testing and counting every carb, I felt that every day was a test. In the process, I'm sure I missed some of those spirit-elevating opportunities, like having a leisurely and chatty lunch with a friend, that would have decreased my stress. Living life is the best revenge -- and taking control in both management and lifestyle ways has to be the best strategy.
Very thought provoking, Kim.

Many times I've had to stop and remind myself that my son is a child first and foremost. And that diabetes WILL NOT rob him of that.

I think that embracing the "management" mindset exclusively would certainly do just that.

Thus, balance is key.

Reading this post reminded me of something that happened just last week.

It was the middle of my son's baseball game, when the skys opened up and we were caught in a torrential downpour. Everyone fled the field and made for a covered area in front of the concession stand. While we all huddled together, waiting out the storm, my son noticed the lone figure of a teammate running around in the rain, laughing and getting completely drenched.

When Joseph asked if he could join him, I thought:

We just reconnected his pump, it's waterproof, but it's in a leather case and we haven't checked his blood sugar in a while, and--

But then I stopped.

"Go for it," I said with a smile.

And when my son galloped across that wet field, spread his arms wide, bent back and got soaked to the skin, I saw pure joy.

Yes, as Lydia says, "living life is the best revenge."
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