By: Kay Eager
I know people sometimes say that developing an illness was both the best and the worst thing to ever happen to them. I used to find it hard, however, to imagine how an illness could be anything but bad.
Since developing diabetes, I have begun a spiritual journey and learned how a disease can be a profound blessing.
Nudges Along the Way
I think we are given nudges to show us a better path, but unfortunately some of us don’t always respond to them, especially if effort and change are involved. I was warned about my genetic predisposition when my father developed type 2 diabetes. I was young, however, and it didn’t seem like anything would ever happen to me.
Later I developed gestational diabetes. Although there were some complications, the babies were healthy, so I put the whole thing out of my mind. When subsequent test results showed I had abnormally high glucose and insulin levels, I continued as usual.
With time, my lifestyle gradually changed. My work was solitary and sedentary. My husband and I were not really communicating and I felt lonely. Food began to take on more importance and was at the center of most of my social interaction.
Since I exercised so little, I slowly gained weight. My marriage failed, and food became a faithful companion. The fat it engendered was a handy shield against any future hurtful involvement.
BGs in the 300 to 400 Range
My diabetes suddenly got much worse. After trying oral agents, I found myself on insulin. Even with ever-increasing insulin, my blood sugars were still out of control (in the 300 and 400 range) and my work suffered.
It became obvious that changes were imperative.
A Spirit That Needed Feeding
I knew that in order to control my diabetes, I was going to have to change my lifestyle-eat right, lose weight, exercise and learn to deal with stress. I knew exactly what needed to be done, but trying to use will power to break out of my patterns was not working.
It was time to face my deeper issues. I knew that I had been using all the wrong strategies to deal with my emotions and stress.
The only way I could succeed was by getting in touch with the needs being satisfied by these bad habits and finding more positive and effective ways of meeting them.
I ultimately realized that it was my spirit that needed feeding and that I had been using food to meet this need. I had to learn to feed my spirit in other ways.
Spirituality has sometimes been defined as making connections-with a higher power, your own being, God, and other people. I believe that you have to practice silence and listen carefully to hear God’s voice or your own inner voice. As you begin to hear more clearly, it becomes much easier to follow your own path.
Tapping Into Myself and Lowering BGs
Noting things each day that I am grateful for also helps me tap into this inner voice. For me, writing and keeping a journal let me tune into a part of myself that has been crying to get out. And after years of neglect I am playing the piano again, which also touches something deep within me.
I am working on connecting with others, rebuilding bridges with family members, making an effort to contact old friends and developing new friendships. I have learned to take responsibility for myself. I am the only one that can know what I need and then do it. I can deal with success or failure, because I cannot fail if I am following my own star.
My blood sugars are now in the 100 to 200 range, and I hope for further improvement, but if not, my life has still been immensely enriched. Thanks to diabetes, I feel happier and more alive than I have in a long time.