By: Sandy Churchill
Anger is a tough place to be because it feels like you are actively doing something but you are actually halted in action—like standing in a burst of flame and doing nothing to either escape or douse the blaze. I have been angry in a little corner of my life that has suddenly grown bigger: diabetes.
True confessions? I hate the stereotype of Type 2. It doesn’t tell the whole story; and like many labels, can be grossly misleading. The ads and headlines conjure images of a morbidly-obese, shabbily dressed American tourist stuffing his or her face with French fries or chips, guzzling soda, and sadly uneducated about junk food. Frustrating, inaccurate, and condescending to say the least.
I inherited a predisposition to a diabetic diagnosis from both parents and landed gestational diabetes during my third pregnancy. Throughout childhood and teens I was never an overweight kid or an obese adult. Sure, a few pounds here and there surrounding pregnancies—but not an immobile, corpulent couch potato as the label often suggests.
To say the diagnosis made me angry is an understatement. I was furious. How could my frantic, crazy-active life and steady focus on pretty healthy eating land me in the danger zone of diabetes? How could people around me—toting super-size sodas, eating cake and Doritos—and many not exercising at all… be “normal” and I get the lousy A1C?
I couldn’t see past the label and it was keeping me angry but not doing anything about it—like standing in the flame, paralyzed.
My notoriously blunt doctor paused at my repeated protests and halted me in my tracks.
“When your house burns down, you don’t just stare at the ashes,” she said simply. “You get a broom and clean it up.”
Well, okay then. Shame on me. The verdict was in: No mercy for the perpetrator. Must be some things I can do then. I cannot eat even a fraction like everyone else. My body has pulled some punches and reminded me it won’t take it anymore. Even that occasional pizza slice won’t work.
My children are watching how I respond. I think they understand my anger, but they won’t learn from that. My youngest is only 13 and perhaps these moments will gel some life lessons early on; patterns he will happily adopt for a lifetime. They need to know that comparisons to others will not serve them, and worse, can distract them from progress. Resentment doesn’t help either—another distraction.
So mom is whipping up protein shakes, logging in blood sugar readings, faithfully taking diabetic medications, and embracing vegetables in abundance. She isn’t as embarrassed about the label because she knows the truth. She didn’t “deserve” the diagnosis any more than a home owner deserves a devastating fire that burned his house to the ground. Nonetheless, it’s time to fetch a broom and clean it up.