Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The More I Learn, the More I Don’t Know

A person who is newly diagnosed with diabetes is like a baby sea turtle.  We pop out of the sand with no one there to protect or guide us.  We’re expected to make it to the sea on our own without being eaten by a passing bird. (Well, we don’t have to worry about being eaten by a bird but you get my drift.) We have no idea what is going on and we’re scared. We’re at the mercy of our doctor when it comes to answering the big question, “what do I do now?”  Some of us were lucky and had a doctor who took the time to explain about diabetes and how changing our diets and exercising will help.  Maybe they gave us reading materials or pointed us toward websites that are chock full of information.  Heck, we might have even seen a certified diabetes educator!  That was definitely NOT my experience.  I was told that I did indeed have diabetes and that I should change my diet and exercise more.  I honestly can’t recall if I was given any brochures or not but I was probably too stunned to read them, I’m sure.  No diet to follow.  No appointment with a dietician (ever!) No meds.  I was supposed to just do it, whatever “it” is. A baby sea turtle.

Now that I’ve been at this for a while (6 years), I’d like to think that I’m well educated about diabetes and how to deal with it day in and day out.  I have learned a lot and am well on the way to figuring out how to deal with MY condition.  I try to help others online and answer questions as best I can.  The frustrating thing is that people ask questions like: “What can I eat?” “What can I do to lower my high morning readings?” “Should I eat before or after exercising?” The problem with these questions is that they’re so vague. There isn’t one right answer.  Are you Type 1 or 2?  Are you on medication?  Injectables or oral or both?  I would love it if I could answer a question succinctly with something like, “if your morning numbers are high then you should do THIS and all will be well.”  Instead the poor baby sea turtle is faced with a dozen more questions to answer before getting any kind of response.  At the least, frustrating.

In my “baby sea turtleness” I bought books.  “Diabetes for Dummies” and such.  I think I probably read them….maybe.  I’m sure I did but it’s all a blur.  I found websites to look for answers.  The bottom line is that we are each responsible for educating ourselves.  No one else can do it for you.  YOU have to seek out the information and assimilate it into your own life.  Sure, others can give you advice and point you in one direction or another, but each person’s condition is different and it’s up to you to figure out what works for you.  There isn’t one diet or one approach that works for everyone.

I’d like to think that, by now, I’m a wise old sea turtle swimming through this vast ocean.  Knowing all the answers and navigating without issue.  Not.  Diabetes is not a disease that stays constant.  Things are always changing!  Just when I think I have things figured out, they change.  Joanne is the mother of a type 1 child who blogs at  Death of a Pancreas.  She recently had this to say, “The only constant with diabetes is that there is none.” Smart woman.  Another blogger, Karen G who has been dealing with type 1 for many years, recently posted about how regardless of how long we’ve been at this diabetes thing, we never have all the answers.  She blogged here: The Common Thread about attending a support group.  She had this to say, “None of us, whether we’d been living with diabetes for two years or fifty years, none of us had it completely figured out yet.  Diabetes is constantly changing.  What works today might not work tomorrow.  We are all just trying to do the best we can every day.”  Another smart woman.

If I’m going to be a sea turtle then I’d like to think of myself as being Crush in Finding Nemo.  He’s wise, but cool and hip.  In reality, I’m more like “Squirt”.  I know some stuff but I have a lot to learn, Dude.


  1. Thanks for the kind shout-out!!! I think of diabetes as an ongoing journey - we all just keep learning and working and doing the best we can! And Dude, you ARE wise, cool and hip!!!

  2. Haha, thanks Karen! I'm so glad to hear that you survived the storm relatively unscathed. I hope your power is back on soon! I have a picture of you sitting there, blogging on your smart phone by candlelight. :)


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