One of my favorite movies growing up (and even as an adult) was The Wizard of Oz. I learned many lessons about life from its symbolism. Without question, the most profound message I learned was that inner peace and happiness are never found “over the rainbow”, but in our own back yards (faith, family, and personal relationships). It was only at the end of her journey through Oz that Dorothy realized she always had the power within her to return home (to family and happiness). The magic of the ruby slippers in truth resided within her. But first she had to believe; not in the slippers, but in herself.
That message has resonated with me over the years regarding many other aspects of life. I see a very strong connection between this human truth and how we manage diabetes (and that of our children).
Let’s face it. Many of us may be looking for a Ruby Slippers solution to our blood sugar control challenges. Or a “Wizard of Oz" to rescue us from our predicament. Our ruby slippers may be the latest blood sugar meter, some new diabetes care tool, an app, a state of the art insulin pump, a new pill, or a novel investigational therapy that might just “cure” our diabetes altogether.
But disappointment, rather than satisfaction, is what we might seem to find. Over my half century of living with diabetes, I’ve seen countless new diabetes tools and gadgets marketed on hope and anticipation. Virtually none of these tools have removed the need for me (or my family) to take an active and responsible role in daily diabetes self care.
The hope that a diabetes “cure” is just around the corner has been dangled in front of me or my parents for over five decades. Plus, it’s always just about “5 years away”. Don’t get me wrong. I still believe a cure will come. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I’m as hopeful as the next person. However, I’m also a realist. We make our own destiny as far as diabetes is concerned. It’s all about our choices.
But is the problem with our technology or with us? At some point we (hopefully) realize that our diabetes fate is in our hands. Oprah Winfrey aptly coined a term for this sort of epiphany: the “ahah” moment. The point of true clarity where you see what your life challenges really are. And they’re not necessarily what you’ve been thinking about all along.
Diabetes control is not a thing, but a state of mind…a way of living. You can’t save up a “bucket” of good diabetes control to live off of during hard times. In the end, good diabetes control is the sum of your choices made each day. It starts from when you woke up this morning and exists until the minute you fall asleep. Actions you take or don’t take matter equally by my argument. First among those critical choices is finding a doctor to care for your diabetes. Next is embracing the concept of diabetes self management education. Diabetes is a condition you live with. It’s the tiger in the room you must tame; otherwise you will be consumed by it.
How each person chooses to manage their diabetes (or not) is unique. The barriers to good care are often those we place before ourselves. The greatest contributor to why we often fail is ignorance, followed by fear, and then denial. Sadly, these traits can be passed down from generation to generation. Self care behaviors (both good and bad) can perpetuate themselves within a family setting; at least until someone stands up and challenges the “status quo”. I’ve found that the traits and qualities a person uses to solve the other challenges in life often get applied to how they approach their diabetes self care.
Like Dorothy, those who succeed and conquer their diabetes are the ones who realize and accept that they have been wearing the “ruby slippers” all along. They reject diabetes as a “fate” or “destiny” and refuse to submit to it. They use the God-given powers of choice to learn more about their diabetes and continue learning. They also understand that in the end diabetes is a marathon and not a sprint. The changes they make in their lives must be long lasting, not just temporary fixes. It’s the power of choice that separates us from all other life forms in this world. We all too often abdicate that very precious power when we are confronted with a challenge like diabetes.
So next time you look in the mirror, realize that it’s YOU who is in charge of your diabetes. Only when this “ahah” moment occurs will you have turned a corner in your “life lived well” with diabetes