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Defying the Odds or Without a Container
Do you find that there are some conversations that seem to be happening over & over all around you? If you are Canadian, I wonder if you too are a little tired of being asked if the day is either hot enough or cold enough for you. The day is what it is & I am just not in charge of the weather systems so for the most part I feel pretty indifferent to the hot enough, cold enough question. The other conversation that tends to never end is the one involving dramatics of health woes. What is that all about? The thing is that there are countless people who are battling illnesses every single day with the fighting spirit & the illnesses are beastly. Many of these same people are the most compassionate, caring & generous in spirit that you would ever be blessed enough to know. They are fighting the day in day out battles yet there is no trace of the dramatics or the woe is me going on. You find these same people volunteering in droves to help others because they get what a bad day looks like & so to help someone else is the exact right act of love. Without sounding too “ranty” I am trying not to lose my patience for these 2 above mentioned conversations around me. I will say that it is brain numbing though to listen to some of this & also head shaking. The brain numb comes in when the weather becomes the total focus of conversation over & over again. What else is going on in our small corner of the world or the larger world around us? There is a ton going on...both beautifully good & darkly negative in the world. The part where I give my head a shake is when I hear for what seems like the millionth time that someone who is otherwise pretty healthy has a head cold & how that is ruining their lives. Of course a cold is no fun but it is not worth being that dramatic over. There are some people that can find themselves in emergency situations when they catch very bad bugs that are going around including people with respiratory illnesses, diabetes, people battling cancer and so many others. I know that when I get a cold I am not rejoicing & there is an immediate need to go onto my sick management plan but I do not go out into the world complaining endlessly about a cold. Mentioning not feeling well is one thing but turning myself into a victim in any way is distasteful for me. The other head shaking thing that is said so often that drives me up the wall is the peanut gallery type responses that some people give to people living with diabetes. The list is so long that I will not include all the outrageous, misinformed, dramatic & downright rude comments but I will share a few that will be very familiar to you if you live with diabetes too. What is it about diabetes that people around us feel as though they are entitled to a free pass as far as commenting without a governor? Here is a list of the unsolicited comments that I have received dozens of times since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes:
- Oh, that’s too bad that you have the bad kind
- I won’t offer you dessert because I know you cannot eat sugar anymore.
- You got that from eating too much sugar
- Don’t worry, you will grow out of it
- Eat cinnamon, oka or get more rest & you will be much better
- Take better care of yourself & your blood sugars will resolve themselves
- You have an insulin pump so you are fixed
- My (insert relative) died from that, had a heart attack, was on dialysis, lost a limb, went blind from diabetes or something else equally scary
- That surprises me that you have diabetes because you are not fat.
On what planet exactly are any of these comments polite, helpful, encouraging, caring, necessary and kind? This was an abbreviated list of the comments heard over & over again. I am not alone in hearing these. Chances are that if you are living with diabetes you have heard one or all of these as well. Can you think of another chronic disease that people would calleously make these type of comments about? These type of comments are hurtful, totally inaccurate, rude & unnecessary I believe. I have gotten to the point where the comments are met with a simple, “that is not okay” from me in most cases. Some people do not hear us when we speak. Some folks hold so firm to thinking that they are correct that they will not listen to the truth. I will never stop advocating however I will not waste my efforts on people who are so caved in on themselves that they will not listen to others. The antidote to the unkindness that we can sometimes be met with is to increase our own kindness in the world. It is counterintuitive & difficult beyond words yet to go to a place of increase in our minds & spirits where we can continue to be kind in spite of how others sometimes treats us is the answer. To meet unkindness with unkindness will resolve & solve nothing within the world. For sure, advocate for yourself & those dear to you with all your passion but let’s not cave in & lash out because we have been hurt. Sometimes a simple, “I feel hurt by what you have said” or “that is not okay” is the standing up or in front necessary. Name calling towards someone else though is not the answer. Being a realistic optimist I also am very aware that there are times when we say either “that comment is hurtful to me” or “that’s not okay” & be met with another hurtful response from the person. It is like the parallel world of when a driver is about to drive into us so we honk the horn not as a form of car cursing but safety & we are met with a response from the other driver of getting the middle finger flag. Sometimes a personal governor is the answer. The personal governor is contained within each one of us likely who gives us a signal to take a breath or pause before responding or to kind of get a hold of ourselves versus just responding out loud with every thought that comes into our heads. I know there are times when I have literally questioned some thoughts that have come into my head that are negative. And through that I have gone ahead & discarded the thoughts as garbage with help from my governor. Perhaps there are some diseased governors out there when we see comments about diabetes that are profoundly misinformed, rude & unnecessary prevalent. I think that if I misplace my governor (maybe from extreme high blood sugars), I may just respond, “Cut it out!” to these rude comments.
Thankfully there is so much more of such enormous substance. These are the loves in our hearts, minds, spirits, and lives. These are the things that matter most. Far beyond how my physical body is functioning at any given time I realize that I am indescribably thankful for a mind, spirit & soul that cannot be decreased by the 365”s that I live with. I am so much more than my physical self. Of course I would love to have perfect physical health. It is what it is though & I choose to do the things that I need to do each day to be as physically well as possible every single day. Like you I try to do the things that will decrease the risk factors for diabetes complications. Beyond that, I am still a work in progress as far as learning to live more by the “Serenity Prayer” each day. I am a rascal as far as releasing control once I have done all I can to affect positive outcomes. I am learning to decrease part of the rascal in me though. It is the part that has to learn that I cannot control everything. I really cannot stand that. That is pretty prideful of me though & so I am learning a little more each day to do my part in my health & then realize that I cannot control every aspect of what happens in the present or the future as far as my physical health is concerned. And I need to keep reminding myself that worrying about what may or may not happen health wise is a complete waste of time. The aspects of myself that I can affect though are my mind, spirit & soul. I have come to realize especially since being diagnosed with several illnesses that I need to focus more on mind, spirit & soul health. I am so incredibly grateful to be able to access & read so many mind stretching books, to be able to watch films with an inspirational element to them & to appreciate the beauty of so many beautiful paintings & pictures. I love that I can continue to learn new things intellectually & spiritually. I love the journey. I love that I can take this journey by travelling anywhere at all or remaining in my own little corner of the world. I love coming up with new ideas & I love knowing that every single day that I wake up that there will be something that I will be grateful for. (on purpose)
When I think about physical health some days I think about it wondering whether I can defy certain odds. Some days diabetes scares me. Then I get a hold of myself & realize that I am doing everything I can as far as diabetes management goes with a tweak here & there with the current devices I have. I try to let go of the scary feelings because I don’t want to live in that dark rabbit hole that ultimately I will not have control over. I will not let the scary feelings steal my life away a little or a lot at a time & beyond that I do not relinquish my joy to diabetes ever. My husband & I recently (finally) went to the movies to see “The Theory of Everything.” I have shared with you countless times that I am a super sensitive person. Case in point is that as soon as I got out of the movie theatre, crocodile tears fell down my face. I am laughing at myself in humility right now because who cries after seeing a movie with physics in it? Of course the film was really more of a living biography of Stephen Hawking. I was sad because the sentimental gal in me so much wanted for the Hawkings to have stayed married & in love even though I already knew that this was not what happened. Still though there is of course a profoundly happy ending & you know I always will find it. There is a huge example of someone who defied the odds. The doctors gave Stephen Hawking 2 years to live from time of diagnoses & he continues to defy those odds in the kind of dramatic way that I am ecstatic about. Dr. Hawking of course went on to write & my husband has a couple of his books on shelves in our home that fascinate him. Dr. Hawking is able to continue to communicate his brilliance of mind with the world again defying the odds. That is worth cheering about & for. Our minds & spirits are almost incomprehensible to me. On days where I am noticing increased forgetfulness in myself I have a mini panic attack of sorts hoping that I never lose my memory or ability to think and pray. Then I get a hold of myself & realize that today is the gift that I need to be grateful for. I am thankful for today even with a gnarly 11.1 registering as my first thing in the morning blood sugar number. I corrected that number & soon I will see a better number I am sure of it & I am thankful for this moment & this day.
Here is a short story in closing of what really matters most. The little things really do send so much love into the world. A friend shared with me last week that a group of school children had made beautiful ceramic valentine’s hearts several months ago. The pottery had to be left behind after being painted by the children so that they could dry & then be placed in the kiln. The children were advised that they could collect their finished crafts 2 weeks later & that their hearts would be on a small table in the hallway. Apparently a lady walked by the table where the completed hearts were one day & wondered how much the children were selling the ceramic hearts for. She had a dear friend who was in hospice dying from cancer & it came to her that she would purchase one of the hearts to give to her friend to leave some love with her after their next visit together. The lady decided to take one of the ceramic hearts with her that day & call the office later to ask how to best pay for the heart. The lady took the heart to her friend right away & her friend was deeply moved by the heart. The friend kept the heart with her & expressed such thankfulness for something so loving over & over again. Once the lady who had given the heart to her friend found out that the hearts had not actually been for sale she found out the name of the student who had created the heart & she contacted her to explain what had happened. The student said that she was honoured that the heart had been given as a gift & that it was bringing such care to the friend in hospice & for the heart to remain with the friend naturally. The lady in hospice sadly died this past week yet that ceramic heart reminded her every day that she was loved. It was such a small thing yet small things as the Blessed Mother Teresa said “given with great heart” are what matters most. I sometimes think that as a human being that the best thing I can do is to give from my heart & to know that small acts of love sent out into the world is part of the reason I got to wake up to the gift of yet another day today.
My heart’s hope for you is that you too come to realize that love has no container. Love does not need to concern itself with defying odds. Love knows no agitation. May you receive the gift of love in continued ways. Don’t forget to say thank-you for the blessings of love in your life. I have always found that with gratefulness comes blessings multiplied.
Smiles, Saundie :)
Picture yourself receiving a small yet love packed gesture of love. How great is that feeling! Go ahead do one of these gestures of love for someone else. We all got to wake up to another day. What will each one of us do with this day? Be gentle with yourself xo Next Monday's story is again in the creative ether.