As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Theresa Garnero: diabetes educator extraordinaire and talented artist with a funny bone for diabetes. Read all about her in my recent interview.
What does your diabetes educator really think about your diabetes?
Is it all about your quarterly diabetes report card-your A1C less than 7, blood pressure less than 130/80, and LDL less than 70? Hopefully not. From my perspective, it goes beyond these important numbers we struggle to achieve.
The diabetes profession focuses on the “A, B, Cs” (A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol) because when in target, they help to prevent complications. If one person can avoid issues associated with diabetes gone wrong, the enormous impact on their life, and the lives of their family and community is immeasurable. Focusing primarily on these desired outcomes, however well intentioned, may risk alienating the very people we are trying to help. What happens when your A1C is high? Do you feel you have failed or worse, feel blamed for it? How does that impact what you do next?
Diabetes control is somewhat of an oxymoron and a never-ending moving target. It is not magic; it is hard work. The time you invest in yourself in attempting to control this disease is time well spent. You are in this for the long haul, so pace yourself and take things in stride. It’s the small diabetes action items that allow you to achieve the desired numbers.
My approach is to emphasize the process of how people get to their destination of diabetes control and the importance of adding perspective through humorous anecdotes discovered along the way.
Are you actively involved in pursuing ways to manage your disease? When people are in touch, or make the connection of what works in their lives and what doesn’t – that’s how I measure a win. Success comes in many shapes and forms. Check out these recent examples:
- Being really pissed off about having diabetes.
- Telling the waiter, “I’ll have the salmon and please cut the rice in half-look, I’m a diabetic!”
- “What do I want out of this class? I want out of this class!”
- “Staying active is the only way to stay active.”
- “I’ve lost 200 pounds-just the same 10 pounds over and over again.”
- “Insulin is a gift.”
- The person who lost 50 pounds by asking himself “Am I satisfied or stuffed?” at every meal.
- “I was diagnosed a few desserts and margaritas ago.”
- “It doesn’t pay to be negligent.”
- “The sweeter it is, the smaller the portion.”
- “Diabetes is invisible.”
- “Who knew veggies could taste so good?”
- “I saw my eye doctor.”
- “I took a brisk walk 5 days last week.”
- “My numbers are high at work.”
- “One slice of pizza with a large salad only brings my sugar up 40 points.”
- Being consistent with taking medications.
- Sharing why medications were not taken (side effects, expense, forgot).
- Bringing a spouse to an appointment.
- Returning with the annoying food and activity records completed so we have information to help.
The next time you get your diabetes report card, add a column for effort. If you are trying your best, give yourself an “A” and pat yourself on the back. Only you know what it is like to live with diabetes, and hopefully your friends, family and diabetes care team cheer you on.
I think the decisions you make along your diabetes journey and your level of determination to take advantage of opportunities to improve your health are as important as the standard measurements used to refine your level of success.