November is National Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a disease that affects your body’s ability to produce or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone. When your body turns the food you eat into energy (also called sugar or glucose), insulin is released to help transport this energy to the cells.
There are two types of Diabetes. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children. In Type 1 Diabetes the body does not produce insulin at all. Only about 5% of the people with Diabetes have this type. In the more common Type 2 Diabetes, the body does use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. Some people can control Type 2 with diet and exercise but may need oral medications to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes include age, family history of Diabetes, inactivity and obesity. In 2015, 30.3 million had Diabetes and 7.2 million were undiagnosed. It is important to understand the risk factors and be tested if one has a family history of Diabetes. Early diagnosis and management of the illness can reduce the chances of complications such as nerve damage, blindness, and limb amputations. One’s risk can be lowered by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, ceaseing smoking, and lowering cholesterol levels.
The following is a list of common symptoms of diabetes however in Type 2 Diabetes they often go unnoticed:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
This information has been obtained from the American Diabetes Association. See the website to take a Type 2 Risk Test:
Yesterday my husband and I went to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. This center provides rescue and rehabilitation of injured raptors including falcons, eagles and owls (my favorite). We saw many with broken wings and other bones and a couple with vision impairments. Most were in cages but some were tethered to a perch so they could not fly away from the protection of the facility. Not being able to survive on their own, they were being held in captivity.
This reminds me of how I feel at times, living with multiple chronic illnesses. I feel I am caged by my illnesses because I cannot function the way a normal person’s body functions. The limits on the food I can eat due to Diabetes and the amount of energy I can expend in one day due to Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia keep me confined. I am not free to do as I please because my body cannot function on its own. I have to manually regulate many of my body functions with medication, diet and managing movement.
Being ill my entire life, I have learned how to relieve some of the feelings of restriction:
- Acknowledgement: I had to acknowledge my emotional, physical and mental state. I had to recognize my feelings of grief and sadness about being sick. Once one grieves the loss of being ill, it becomes more real. Once the grief was resolved I was in a better mental state to deal with the physical issues.
- Identify what needs to be changed: I had to accept the way I was functioning needed to change in order for me to manage my illnesses more effectively. For example, I can no longer do a long list of chores in one day. I now have to break up my activity in short segments. In other words, I had to examine what aspects of my life were being impacted by my illnesses and make changes.
- Make one change at a time: I gradually worked on each aspect of myself taking one step at a time. Once I dealt with my emotional state, it helped other aspects of my life. Then I was able to work on making changes to my daily activities which help my overall health and energy levels.
- Engage in a new adventure: Learn something new, join a social group, volunteer in the community. Engaging more with others and helping the community create a sense of purpose which generates hope for the future.
- Reward: As changes are being accomplished, give yourself a reward! It can be anything, even a small moment of self-care. For me that means a manicure and pedicure!
- Share your story: Share what you are going through with others. You never know what you can learn from someone else or what they can learn from you!
Wow, the end of the third quarter of the year! This year is flying by and I am still working towards my ultimate goal of the year, to exercise regularly. I have taken steps towards that goal so I guess I have taken some action. I did buy a balance board and I do use it on my breaks at work but just on a regular basis. I also have gone to a few Yoga classes but I need to find one that fits my schedule. This week I am going to try a new facility that is close to my house and has classes available during appropriate times for me. Hopefully this will be the place for me!
One thing I have learned about making change is it takes time. I think the main reason I don’t exercise is because I find other things to do rather than take the time to exercise. My old story is I don’t have time or energy to exercise. My new story is I am a healthy person who is energized by exercise and makes time to do it. This new outlook will help motivate me to follow through on the plan. In addition to motivation, I need to eliminate the excuse that I don’t have the time. By searching different options, I have finally found a place that does work in my schedule. Now I have no excuse not to exercise. I need to continue my vision of being a healthy person to accomplish this goal.
As far as my overall health things are better except for some stomach issues. I had a couple of MRI’s and an endoscopy done in the past couple of months. The doctor told me my stomach doesn’t work right. This could be a complication due to my other medical issues. I will find out more when I get the results of all the tests in a couple of weeks. Until then, I will deal with things as they happen and continue to work towards my goal of being a healthy person. Well, as healthy as I can be.
At the beginning of 2017 I chose my word for the year to be “action”. This was going to be the year to act on making the changes necessary to create a balanced life while living with chronic illnesses. I must alter my approach to the challenges of life in order to achieve my goal of a stable life. But, change is hard. How do I make the changes become my new normal?
I discovered the book “Live the Best Story of Your Life: A World’s Champion’s Guide to Lasting Change” by Bob Litwin. The author is a champion tennis player turned business coach. The key to this book is changing from one’s Old Story to a New Story. One often creates a story based on the comments and reactions one receives from parents, friends, etc. One can misconstrue the responses from others creating a distorted perception of self. This made me think about my own Old Story. In my past, I viewed people’s constructive criticism of me as negative which destroyed my self-confidence. These false ideas took over and for years I continued to engage in negative self-talk, like an annoying parrot on my shoulder. My Old Story was filled with self-doubt, lake of self-confidence, lack of discipline, low motivation, and feeling of inferiority to others. I didn’t realize until reading this book that for the past few years I have been working on changing my perception of myself. I had to stop listening to my Old Story and start creating a New Story. In my New Story, I am confident about what I know, am disciplined, motivated to stay healthy, and feel I am valuable to others. The story I had been telling myself for most of my life was not real and was holding back from the person I want to be.
Now that I have discovered what I want in my New Story, I can begin to make behavioral changes in order reach my goal of a balanced life. Changing my self-perception from “I can’t” to “how can I” has opened my mind to accept change is possible instead of hard.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides two definitions for happiness: a state of well-being and contentment, and a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Research suggests that happiness is a combination of these two components. Happiness is just not a feeling at a particular moment, it includes an overall sense of satisfaction of one’s life.
I have struggled with Depression for several years and have been hospitalized for it several times. At my darkest times I remember feeling totally hopeless. I had no ambition for life and focused on all my faults from my past. I just couldn’t move forward which caused my Depression to worsen. I also lost my faith in God and in life in general. Today, I am happy and participating in life again. It was a lot of work but I have been able to move from my dark days into a positive light for the future. So how did I rise from the darkness?
The steps I took to restore my happiness are similar to those used to restore one’s faith. Step 1, surrender and acknowledge helplessness. I had to face the fact that I had a serious problem and I needed help, professional help. So I succumbed to therapy and medication. Step 2, spend time with God. I realized I was trying to control this situation myself instead of having faith in God. I knew that God is always on my side and will see me through this trial. I began praying regularly and reading the bible for encouragement. Step 3, receive encouragement from family and friends. Having support from my family and friends was so important. I reported to them regularly on my progress and was inspired to do more because of their love. Step 4, have patient endurance. It was a long road to recovery. There were times of sadness and days of disappointment. But, I took small steps towards accomplishments. This allowed me to actively push forward. Each week I increased the daily activities I was doing to regain a “normal” life pattern. Step 5, forgive myself. I had to let go of all the baggage from the past. I cannot change the past so why dwell on it? I focused on the present moment and looked forward to the next step of healing. Step 6, look for hope. I realized God has a purpose for my life. I need to use my talents to help others. Engaging actively in life restores hope for the future. That is reason I started this blog, to be active in life again.
Happiness is not just a moment of gladness. It is a feeling of belonging, having a sense of purpose, and being content with one’s situation. Why stay in despair when one can choose to be active and happy?
The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, “So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” Happiness is a gift from God.