An Army of One: Diabetes Self-Reliance

Posted by tony on Thu, 06/20/2013 - 11:50 in
Tony riding the Cohutta 100 - an ultra-endurance 100-mile bike race through the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

An army of one. Those words were the theme of a much too short-lived recruiting slogan used by the U.S. Army in the early part of this millennium.  Although, for one obvious and specific reason, I never served, this motto always struck a chord with me.

I am by nature a very positive person. I believe in focusing on the positives in any situation, trying to always find the advantages rather than disadvantages. And as much as I continue to hope for a cure for all those affected by diabetes, living with diabetes for the past 36 years or so has not dampened my positive attitude. In truth, it has actually helped to reinforce it.

One of the silver linings of my diabetes diagnosis, and the compilation of life events that have followed, is that it has taught me great self-reliance. I learned a tremendous amount of independence at a young age - and dealing with diabetes every day for the past 13,500+ days has continued to augment that characteristic.

There is no choice but to mature that way. As a person with diabetes, it is critical that you become independent on the path to routine diabetes management in order to protect yourself when things don't necessarily go according to plan.

Diabetes Support System

I am, however, fortunate enough to have a tremendously unbelievable support system when it comes to my diabetes care and I am extremely grateful for it. My fiancée, Diane, knows diabetes inside and out, and is always there to help me when I am struggling. I am constantly amazed at her ability to pick up on my blood glucose levels, her solutions to carbohydrate counting and Omnipod insulin pump settings, and her ability to correctly deliver just the right amount of tough love or gentle touch to keep me motivated and focused. Another part of my support system, Joe Largay at the University of North Carolina Diabetes Care Center, works with me to develop care and dosing techniques for when I am either on the bike or sitting in an office. Undoubtedly without them diabetes management would be so much more toilsome and littered with pot holes of tremendous defeats.

My Own Diabetes Self-Care

However, when the tire finally meets the road (or, in my case, the trail), it is, at its core, simply up to me to take care of my diabetes. I alone am responsible for watching what I eat, how I dose insulin with my insulin pump, how I manipulate temp basal rates and when I test my blood glucose. It is up to me to pack responsibly when I am on the go, carry my diabetes supplies on my bike and respond to unpredictable life-changing events. It is up to me to correctly respond to, and treat, low blood glucose levels and high blood glucose levels.

And from my earliest days with diabetes, it always has been.

The seriousness and extraordinary amount of the self-care of diabetes forces the affected individual to be more responsible, more aware and greatly motivated. These traits also naturally transfer to the non-diabetes aspects of life. And that is one of the advantages I take away from having diabetes. Believe it or not, diabetes has been a major mentor in teaching me these skills, instilling in me a sense of self-reliance, confidence and organization.

Among the thousands of lessons that diabetes has certainly taught me, one that really stands out is that when needed, I have the strength to act as an army of one.

There’s a lot involved with diabetes management, whether in your own self-care or in caring for someone with diabetes. The Omnipod insulin pump can help make diabetes feel like a smaller part of life, so there’s more room for the rest of life. Try a free demo and see for yourself.