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The Chains We Forge

The plot unfolds with a visit by the tormented ghost of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s former business partner. Marley’s condemned soul must wander for eternity dragging a long and incredibly heavy metal chain of his own personal misdeeds and beliefs.

Marley howls to the miserly Scrooge “I wear the chain I forged in life! I made it link by link and yard by yard! I [made] it of my own free will and by my own free will, I wore it!”

The symbolism behind Jacob Marley’s immense chain reminds me of the chains of choice we all forge in life regarding our health and diabetes. In reality, each of us carries these invisible chains in daily life. They’re the chains of habit. But unlike Marley, I believe our chains can also lift us up as well as pull us down.

Just as Scrooge had the chance to change his life direction (his habits and beliefs) even in his old age, we do too. After all, birth is part of the true meaning of the holiday season for many of us. We’re never too old to be reborn.

And if we were to have our own ghostly 1 AM wakeup call, what sort of chains of missed opportunities or intentional missteps would a 21st century ghost of “our Jacob Marley” be dragging around today?

Whether Scrooge’s ghosts were real or imagined is irrelevant. The fact is they were real to him. With their help, Scrooge unlocked his “Power Within”. It was always there, just buried deep down under a heavy pile of cruel deeds and misguided beliefs.

Persons with diabetes have their own life chains of differing lengths. They’re called habits. Overeating, missing scheduled insulin doses, not checking blood sugar levels, or not being proactive with blood sugar data you already have? Affirmative actions and well as acts of omission can also be habitual.

The chains of negative habits are strong, but not impossible to break free of or redirect. It first takes that “ah-hah” moment to kick in. You can’t keep putting off change until another day. Those days will rapidly dwindle in number, as the Ghost of Christmas yet to come so bluntly showed Scrooge.

Talking about change is only the first step. Making change and sticking to it is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Get into a changed routine for at least 3 weeks and it starts to become a new habit. In a way, you are making a different chain: not one that weighs you down, but rather one that’s powered to lift you up!

We are on the cusp of the annual round of New Year resolutions that most of us never fulfill. I suggest you make simple changes to your routine. Make a resolution to learn one new thing about your diabetes care each week. Better yet, work to act on the knowledge you learn. Maybe start doing what you’ve been taught to do long ago but chose to ignore or delay. Maybe it’s time to take charge.

The chains we forge in life can be shed or at least lightened. Ideally, they can be replaced with chains that support us, not drag us down. The final question is whether or not you need a ghostly visit to see the Power Within!

And what became of Scrooge? This final passage of the book sums it all up: “…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”

Happy Holidays to all and Season’s Greetings!

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