Diabetes Goliath is a relentless, mighty beast with night-and-day vicious endurance that I have battled consistently for twenty-five years and counting. At first look, this unmanageable nightmare of self-discipline can seem to be a 24-hour-a-day war zone disease, destroying anyone’s blood sugar balancing act. This Diabetes Goliath listens to no one, its combat strategy can change by the minute, and its bullying on insulin boluses can make even the most savvy diabetes veteran lose control of their otherwise steady life.
Diabetes is the most negative thing to ever happen to me. Have you ever thought this? I question whether this statement is really true. Or could diabetes actually be my biggest strength in life?
David conquered Goliath because he played by his own rules and leveraged his personal strengths. David was not a combat warrior with godly physical gifts like Goliath. He defeated Goliath because of the strength and courage he developed killing bears with his precise slinger skills. He practiced, perfected, and implemented a talent that he was not born with, but with one he established. Being a master of slinging rocks means you don’t have to be strong and mighty, but disciplined and exact.
Courage is learned. Courage it is not something you are born with but rather something you have personally earned. Think about how you were forced into taking insulin injections when you were first diagnosed with diabetes. Were you afraid? I was. Granted no one wants to do shots, but we had to. Conquering that pain and procedure bred self-confidence. Somehow some way you developed the courage to try and try again. Most people don’t know what that type of forced determination is like. Most people have no idea how challenging inflicting pain on yourself can be every single day. But because of this, believe it or not, you are a much stronger person today.
I am where I am today because of my diabetes difficulties and because of all the battles I have won and lost. And I have lost more battles then I would have liked, but in each defeat I adapted my strategy, became stronger, and most importantly, learned something about myself when I was most vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, that is the truest time for self-reflection and decisions to improve yourself begin. It’s because of this Diabetes Goliath I fight day in and day out that I have built up an arsenal of personal character assets. Developing both mental and physical characteristics in areas where they would not have existed. The Diabetes Goliath never gives up, nor can you. That’s a life lesson we learn earlier than most. But are you better off because of diabetes? Oddly enough I know I am.
I am a more capable person because I have diabetes. Moira McCarthy Stanford, author and mother of a type one explains,
“While diabetes has been an incredible challenge from the time my daughter was in kindergarten until today, I think dealing with T1D in our lives has made us more tuned in on what we are capable of. Recently, my daughter, who is finishing her senior year in college and doing quite well, asked me if I thought she’d be the success she looks to become without diabetes in her life. I had to think about it. I said something like ‘Of course you would be. You are smart and driven.’ But she said ‘You know what mom? It’s okay if diabetes brought something positive to my life. And in a lot of ways, I think it has. My life experiences have helped me a lot.’”
Is it possible to be more successful because of diabetes? Moira’s daughter believes so.
I know my body and nutrition better because I have diabetes. Ryan A., medical student relates,
“I never imagined I’d be where I am now, my first semester of medical school, eleven years after graduating college. Diabetes inspired me to take control of my health. I’m 34 years old, and am in the best shape and health of my life, because this disease inspired me to be healthy. Diabetes made me want to learn as much as I can about the disease as well as general health and nutrition. Eventually I realized I needed to formalize my education in this, which led me to where I am now.”
Would Ryan be pursuing his medical degree if it wasn’t for diabetes?
I have more perseverance because of diabetes. Manny Hernandez, president of the Diabetes Hands Foundation explains,
“Diabetes management and nonprofit management have so much in common. You do the right things and sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. You can get burnout. You can feel hopeless at times. But overall, you know there’s another day, there’s another chance to ‘get it right’ and you keep pushing ahead.”
I am more determined because of diabetes. Ginger Vieira, a freelance writer and diabetes coach says,
“I could choose to feel sorry for myself every time life gets hard, every time diabetes challenges me, or I could choose to identify the problem and work really hard on overcoming it. The result? Determination, I guess. Diabetes has taught me to be relentlessly determined, to never let a challenge or something that seems totally negative stand in my way. This applies daily to life with diabetes, but it also applies to other little or big things that we all encounter in regular old life!”
Do you have a better work ethic because of diabetes? Patrick McCrosson, who has had T1D for 36 years proclaims,
“Diabetes has carried over to my career with a ‘never say die’ approach. Years ago I thought by now that I would probably not be alive, but thankfully the world of medical and social technology while communicating with doctors, nurses, and other T1Ds, it changed my views but also changed the odds. I moved to Miami, Florida, with no connections, family, job, car, or a place to live. Within four weeks of being there I established all of that including a job with the Miami Heat basketball team. From there, despite never having a full-time job or had sales experience, I became the number one inside sales representative. My point is diabetes has allowed me to persevere in situations that I have put myself in, especially in my career.”
Diabetes doesn’t change, diabetes changes you. Think about that statement for just one minute. Diabetes changes you for the _________. Say it with me, “better.” Don’t worry if you are afraid to say it. I completely understand how it makes no sense at all. I have never heard of anyone wanting diabetes. I would never wish diabetes on my friends, family, or foe. But managing your Diabetes Goliath might just be the best life coach you wished you never had.