D-vangelism: 7 Secrets to Being an Effective Diabetes Ambassador without Being Weird

from the website, www.americanmedical-id.com

Full disclosure: This is not my tattoo. But it does look like a cool idea, and I’ve thought about it. From the website, http://www.americanmedical-id.com

I admit it: I’m a D-vangelist. Everywhere I go, I look for opportunities to tell people about my savior. Insulin saved my life 42 years ago, and am not ashamed to stand up and testify.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a water park, wearing my pod on my arm. The guy behind us in line asked me what it was, so I used his question as an opportunity to educate and advocate. About 10 people had congregated around us, and they all heard the good news of modern diabetes technology.

Over the years I’ve learned a few secrets for talking effectively about my diabetes without being weird about it:

  1. Wherever you are, be there. Like it or not, you and I take our diabetes wherever we go. You can either accept or reject the role that goes along with that to be an ambassador for diabetes. My opinion: If you decide you don’t wish to educate others about diabetes, you give up your right to complain about people who say stupid stuff about it.
  2. Let it shine. Don’t hide your diabetes under a bushel … no! (Sorry, I was roped into teaching Vacation Bible School a number of years ago.) Look, I am a PWD (Person With Diabetes). I have been for nearly 80% of my life. So I own that. I’ve never been one to hide my pump, pod, or now my CGM (which I started yesterday). I don’t purposely show them off, of course, but I don’t see a reason to conceal them either.
  3. Be prepared. When we go out, PWDs are careful to take everything we need—tester, glucose tablets, insulin, and other supplies—with us. I’d never leave the house without being prepared for highs or lows. I think we should also be prepared to tell people a little about the highs and lows of living with diabetes when asked. Who knows more about it than those of us who live with it every day? You don’t have to know everything about diabetes; just share your story … briefly!
  4. Be natural. Try not to force the conversation. Simply answer people’s questions … and then stop talking. You don’t need a pitch or a speech. And don’t use this as an opportunity to make yourself the center of attention. If people keep asking questions, answer them, and then move on. If they stop asking, view that as a sign.
  5. Control the Diabeteze. We PWDs—whether we’re T1Ds or T2Ds, whether or not we wear a CGM, regardless of our latest BS (or BG) (mg/dL or mmol/l) or A1C, regardless of whether we’ve ever gone into DKA and had to upload our PDM to our endo or CDE—tend to use all kinds of diabetes nomenclature that PWODs (People Without Diabetes) cannot understand. Communicate to be understood. Drop the d-jargon.
  6. Be real. A conversation about your diabetes won’t be weird if you just be yourself—unless, that is, you are weird. It’s OK to talk about how you deal with your diabetes, but, of course, keep it generally positive. Sure, it’s fine to say it can sometimes be a pain in the butt, but don’t go on and on about how horrible your life is. Nobody wants to hear it. Who likes a Diadebbie Downer?
  7. Love. That may sound weird, but what I mean is that as you talk to people, put them first. When you start with a humble attitude, it frees you to simply provide answers for people and help them to understand diabetes more.

 

What Do You Do When Life Isn’t Making Sense?

questioning GodWhen you are walking through a dark valley or when the circumstances in your life are not making sense, it’s vital to ask the right questions. What kind of circumstances? I’m talking about living every day with a disease such as diabetes or cancer, relationship issues, or any other life difficulty.

I was reading through the psalms in the Bible one day and came across a very relevant passage. It seems the people, in the midst of difficult and seemingly unfair life situations, were dismayed and confused. “Does God realize what is going on?” they asked. “Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?” (Psalm 73:11, New Living Translation).

This is the question many people still ask. I’ve found through my experiences that this is especially true for those who follow God from arms length, people who may associate themselves with God somehow, because of their upbringing, perhaps, or maybe simply because they would not call themselves atheists. The same is often true for the Sunday-morning church-goers who have never counted the cost of being an authentic follower of Jesus.

People look at their circumstances and ask, “Where is God in all this?” But when we ask such a question, it reveals more about our own hearts than it does about God.

Let me explain what I mean. When I am walking closely with God–making my relationship with him my #1 priority, I don’t ask that question. I know God knows what’s going on, because I’ve talked to him about it, and I know he was listening. I know he is aware of what is happening because I know he knows everything. I know he cares about the situation because I know he is my loving Father; he is a compassionate shepherd who wants to give us peace and rest. I know he can change the circumstances if he chooses to, because he is all-powerful. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have questions. I do.

And so this raises the question that I do ask. This comes from my journal during a particularly tough time during my life:

God, I don’t understand. In my human understanding, I don’t know how this is all going to work out and I can’t see how you are working in this. What are you doing? How are you going to work all this out for the good? Please, Lord, show me just a sliver of your plan and purpose.

 Regardless, Lord, help me to hang on and to continue to trust in you, to continue to trust in your timing….

The interesting thing is that the questions I ask God can actually draw me even closer to him, which, I believe, is part of God’s big-picture purpose when we walk through these dark valleys. Later in that same psalm, the writer said, “Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand” (v. 23). I love that image. Even, perhaps especially, when life circumstances are hard, God is that close. He’s holding my hand.

Are you struggling? Talk it out with God. Discuss it with a godly friend. Find a group who will support you and allow you to ask tough questions. Stretch out your hand. Let God hold it … and you. You are not alone.

How Living with Diabetes Is Like Living with Your Spouse

diabetes-and-marriageIn the Facebook group, “You Know You’re  Type 1 Diabetic When …” Randall Dennis quipped, “I have decided that I love my diabetes because it has stuck with me longer than any of my wives.” That got me thinking: How is living with diabetes like or unlike living with a spouse? First, here’s how living with diabetes is LIKE living with a spouse:

  • Some highs and lows are expected.
  • Daily tests are a part of life.
  • The longer our life together, the more complications seem to develop.
  • Almost certain interruptions occur when I’m watching a great game on TV.
  • The littlest thing can set off a confusing chain of circumstances I can’t control.
  • Has required numerous “lifestyle adjustments.”
  • An error in judgment can reap both short-term and long-term consequences.
  • My commitment to care can make all the difference.
  • “Stop attacking me! I’m not the enemy!”
  • When I forget to do something I’m supposed to do, I will suffer.
  • When I’m feeling low, a little sugar can make me feel MUCH better.
  • Our life together has made me who I am today.

I’ll share some of the ways they are different soon.

Add to the list! What are some other similarities between living with diabetes and living with a spouse?

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TWO MORE POSTS ON DIABETES AND RELATIONSHIPS

Diabetics in Love

The Diabetic Dad and the Delayed Delivery

 

The Cyclist in “Stop Diabetes” Lycra

20140804_195638It was the perfect day for a bike ride for me, and it was an embarrassing one for my wife.

At 7 a.m. I clicked into the pedals on my dark blue Specialized Allez road bike and pushed off toward my friend Ed’s house. I looked up at the cloudless pastel blue sky with yellows and reds radiating from the east. Goosebumps appeared on my bare arms, not so much from the beauty of the morning, but from the surprisingly chilly 68 degrees for August 3.

We were riding in a Bike to Beat Cancer training ride (I’m training to ride 100 miles in September), but I was wearing my grey “Stop Diabetes” jersey, shorts, and socks. I ride to stop diabetes as someone who has lived with the disease for more than 42 years. I’m riding to beat cancer because my mom and many friends have been impacted by it. Our friend Carol just lost her long battle last month.

As Ed and I rode the 17 miles to the meetup, where we’d start the 30-mile training ride, we were happily amazed that we hit every green light for the first 15 miles. As we approached one red light, I joked that I had a preemption emitter (the device emergency vehicles use to change red lights to green) in my helmet. As soon as I said it, the light turned green.

We met up with 20 or so other cyclists and then rolled through the quiet small town at the beginning of the ride–the streets were ours this early Sunday morning. Then we spun along the Ohio River for miles. The pace was even, slow enough for cyclists to talk and point out views across the river and quick enough to feel the cool air in our faces. Just as the sun began to warm up the atmosphere, we glided into a park for a long but gentle climb, the overarching trees providing the shade needed to prolong the crispness of the air for a few more much-appreciated minutes.

At one brief stop I looked around and saw nothing but smiles. This ride didn’t feel much like training.

We picked up the pace on the ride back home as both the traffic and the temperature intensified. I registered a personal best on the steep climb from River Road to SR 42, and we were just 10 miles from home. I rolled down my driveway at 67.5 miles, feeling as if I had another 10-20 in me.

This is when I read the text from my wife telling me she had a story to tell me.

She had left the house shortly after I had that morning, driving my daughter to work. On her way back home, she saw a cyclist wearing grey “Stop Diabetes” jersey, shorts, and socks. So she rode behind the bike for a while and then pulled up alongside, yelling out the window, “Hey, Sexy!” The cyclist in grey Lycra looked over at her and said, “Excuse me?” The two pulled off the side of the road where my precious wife tried to explain to the stranger that she thought he was me.

Turns out the “other man” in the grey jersey is involved in the American Diabetes Association and the Tour de Cure in Louisville as well. And apparently … from the rear … he looks like me.

I’m not exactly sure how I am supposed to feel about my wife’s case of mistaken identity. I’m honored she thinks I’m sexy in Spandex. That is, if she had actually yelled it at me. To this point, no woman has ever pulled alongside me and said, “Hey, Sexy!” and now I’m wishing someone would. I’m also miffed that my wife hasn’t paid enough attention to differentiate me from some random cyclist. Afterall, his bike was red.

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Want to Read More of Mike’s Stories About Cycling?

Living Healthy with Diabetes Is Like Mountain Biking

How to Look Past the Obstacles: Use this mountain biking skill to live healthy with diabetes (or any life circumstance)