Sunday, July 02, 2006

Diabetes

Generally speaking, I don't put a lot of personal news in this blog. As I say in the title box, its purpose is to share "thoughts on Quaker Faith and Practice as they appear to me." My day-to-day life raises all sorts of issues about Quaker practice, but writing about it would normally mean writing about other people I interact with and I don't want my friends and family to think I will be discussing their personal lives on the world wide web.

There's also the point that my own personal life is probably not so vitally interesting to others as it is to me.

This week I am breaking the pattern to say something about my recent discovery that I have type 2 diabetes and that as a result of it I have already suffered some mild neuropathy (nerve damage).
For a couple of years I have known that my doctor was somewhat concerned with my blood sugar levels, but it somehow hadn't sunk in just how serious this was. I took metformin (Glucophage) for awhile, improved my diet and exercise, was able to stop the metformin, gradually went back to my old carelessness on diet and exercise, and now find that I really really have diabetes, and it isn't going to go away. I'm back on metformin, now measure my blood glucose levels several times a day, and carefully watch my diet to keep those levels somewhere close to where they should be. I'm even exercising again - a practice that in my case goes very much against the grain. I'm conscious that this diagnosis is potentially a great blessing to me, since it gives me a chance of preventing further nerve damage (not to mention all the other gruesome complications that can come with diabetes).

I find that some writers about type 2 diabetes want to reassure me that it isn't "my fault" and is probably genetic (though I could have prevented its symptoms by eating better). This seems like a double message. The important point for me is not to fix blame for the disease but to find the best way to cope with it and to be or become as healthy as possible while living with it. Somewhere in there I sense a parallel to the spiritual life in general, to all the weaknesses we fall prey to, and to the steps we can take, with God's help, to be strengthened.

I also want to take note of how encouraged I am, as I look around my Meeting, to note the example of other Friends who have been living, often for many years, with various chronic conditions. These Friends' ability to live well and continue giving to others gives me great comfort and some courage.
- - Rich Accetta-Evans

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10 Comments:

Blogger earthfreak said...

Rich -

I don't know what to say. Just wanted to let you know I'd read this post and am thinking of you.

peace
Pam

(PS- as you may have read on my blog, I am all in favor of the integration of seeing even the most "worldly" and physical aspects and struggles of our lives as part of our spiritual life, I appreciate that you do that here.)

12:42 PM, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Hi Rich,
Like Pam, I don't know what to say. I'll hold you in the light.
With love,
Mark

11:04 PM, July 03, 2006  
Anonymous Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

It's one of those life-stage transition things, is it not? For me it was finding I could no longer walk long distances without bursitis, and elevating my blood pressure trying to do so anyway, to the point where I now have to take hypertension pills every morning.

I look at my morning meds lined up by my orange juice and think, gosh, I'm just like those aged folks I used to care for as a hospital attendant. I feel so old! And it doesn't help that I need a stick to help me hobble about with my bursitis.

But what else can I do? If I skipped the meds I'd risk heart damage, just as if you skipped yours, you'd risk nerve damage. I just have to accept that I'm developing the frailties of age.

Well, I shall think of you, Rich, companion in this transition, as I take my morning pills! And I shall remember that life is still a blessing --

9:08 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:43 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Thanks to Pam, Mark and Marshall for their thoughts and kind words. I find I am learning a lot about diabetes now, and also getting exposure to some strongly contrasting views of how to treat it. It's confusing and potentially scary, given the possible consequences of a "wrong" treatment, but it's also exciting and stimulating. I'm considering the possibility of a separate blog that would be a kind of "diabetes journal", recounting my experience as I try to learn about and live with this condition. No doubt it's been done before, so I will consider carefully before proceeding whether it would really add anything of value. And of course I'd have to acknowledge my non-expert, confused-learner status and avoid presuming to give advice.

I agree with Marshall about this being a "life-stage transition thing". Those can be hard. One of the first fruits of my diagnosis was the poem-post While ageing this morning back on June 11. So at certain moments I can still be philosophical.

Peace of Christ,
- - Richard

11:43 AM, July 04, 2006

11:47 AM, July 04, 2006  
Anonymous AmyT said...

Hi Rich,
I'm sorry to have to welcome you to the (diabetes) club. But you can learn to live pretty well with this beast.

Come visit me soon at www.diabetesmine.com.

All the best,
AmyT

7:17 PM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger Robin M. said...

One of my best friends developed type 1 diabetes at age 22 (sixteen years ago). She is now a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator. But it is still hard, every single day, every single hour. Hard on her, hard on her family.

I had gestational diabetes, and am at fairly high risk for developing type 2 in the next ten years. This spring, as I have made some other personal health resolutions, whenever I feel like it is too much, I don't have time for all this, I think to myself, "If I developed diabetes, would I have time to deal with it? Umm, yes. Then I have time to deal with this now, before it's an emergency." Your experience too helps me put it in perspective.

Learning to deal with diabetes can be part of a practice of developing attention, mindfulness, a different level of awareness. But I send you my sympathy.

Holding you in the Light,
Robin M.

1:54 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Charles Rathmann said...

Rich -- My father grappled with diabetes, and I am constantly on guard. You suggest in your post that you are not a fan of physical exercise, but I'll tell you Friend, this is the key. In an industrialized society, some good cardio and strength training is key. And my wife is a fan of my workouts as well -- particularly since I become pretty unbearable to be around if I am sedentary.

Any struggle, though, can bring us closer to the Lord as we access the resources to master ourselves.

In the Light of Christ,
~ Charles Rathmann

3:16 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I know that Charles is right about the importance of exercise. I'm doing more of it now, but haven't found a form of exercise other than walking that I actually enjoy. Walking is good, but possibly not good enough especially given the limited time I can devote to it.

I also use an exercise bike at home now. I think it's beneficial but I still find it boring and that makes it more of an effort of will to actually do it.

I'm sure that in time I will either become habituated to the exercise bike or I will find something else that engages me more easily. I'm glad that I can exercise and certainly don't mean to whine about realizing that I have to do so.

We should all have "problems" no more severe than this.

- - Rich

5:56 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger Charles Rathmann said...

Rich, in my walks with my border collie, I employ a pair of wrist weights. When used properly (elbows slightly bent, forcing the torso to twist back and forth to swing the arms) you really burn more in a short walk. Great way to make the most of the time.

http://www.energyfirst.com/site/newsletter/01-17-06-heavy-hands-fitness.html

The right motion with this system is comparable to cross-country skiing or using a Nordic Track. Mixed in with some heavy, heavy lifting and some other cardio this has helped me maintain myself close to fighting weight (spiritual battles only, of course, but after a good jaunt with the hand weights you might feel powerful enough to get in the ring with Mike Tyson and speak to his condition).

I am with you -- stationary bikes are less than desirable. And they only involve the lower body ...

In the Light of Christ,
~ Charles Rathmann
THE EXERCISE EVANGELIST

12:05 AM, August 08, 2006  

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