Difficult Times Render Gifts
Practicing gratitude for life's challenges.
By Deanna Glick
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
June 2012 — We all know having diabetes makes parenthood a bit more challenging. Well, maybe more than a bit. But it's a challenge I welcome and, quite frankly, have grown to appreciate more as time goes by.
Challenges come in various forms. Some even come with significant time, thought, and energy put into planning something, such as the pregnancy that led to the life of my beautiful little girl. It didn't matter how much I prepared; those nine months were among the most challenging of my life. And some challenges are surprises, or at least not planned at all, such as my diabetes diagnosis. I mean, who makes arrangements for a chronic illness to crop up?
When you're a person with diabetes, every challenge infringes on the precious, finite amount of time, energy, and will we all have to devote to our disease. When you are a parent with diabetes, those resources are even more scarce. Of course, challenges— be it a new job, moving, dealing with death, or losing at love—are difficult on anyone. But it's probably safe to say they're a bit harder when you're a parent with diabetes. Well, maybe more than a bit. And, heck, let's get real here— even more when you happen to fill the mommy half of the equation.
In the past five years I've given birth to and cared for my daughter, moved across the country, lost my mother, my dog, and my marriage, and revamped my career. And so, the challenges go from a devastating diagnosis and meticulously planned diabetic pregnancy, to a parent's death and a divorce you never dreamed would happen.
My health certainly suffered. I have to admit my HbA1c didn't matter all that much to me after my mom died. And as much as I knew eating a healthy dinner or going on a run would make me feel better when my marriage fell apart, I just wasn't motivated. But I'm here. I'm breathing. My blood sugars are getting back on track. And I'm actually pretty darn close to the happiest I've ever been.
Even though my recent challenges sometimes lead to substandard diabetes management, I can honestly say that I consider them gifts. In fact, diabetes in and of itself has been a gift. And motherhood most definitely has been. Both, hands down, have been my greatest challenges. And yet, they've both brought me overflowing joy. One of them planned, the other a complete surprise. I always knew I'd become a mother, but I never imagined I'd be a person with diabetes.
Motherhood and diabetes are gifts because they enrich my life with people, places, and experiences I would have never known, been to, or had if not for them. I would never have run a marathon—one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far—if not for the push to raise money for diabetes research. And without diabetes, I would not appreciate motherhood nearly as much. It was something I always expected, and yet it became something I had to work harder for than anything else I've achieved. I have nothing but gratitude for that challenge. And the even bigger gift is my daughter, and the person she's growing up to be.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...