Lisa Finander was the guest speaker at the last ‘Adults With Type One‘ group. This was the second time I’ve heard Lisa present, and it was every bit as great as I remembered. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1969, which gives her a ton of street cred in my book.
Lisa talked about how things were back then. Not the typical stories you hear, about testing urine and sharpening needles (she said disposable syringes just hit the scene). But rather how there wasn’t much training, if any, available. They were mostly on their own and had to just “figure it out.”
She said that diabetes has come a long way since then, which is great – but in some ways, many things are still the same, and many beliefs are still the same, which is disappointing.
All of a sudden, your focus changes. You are no longer just trying to figure out life – now you have all of this extra stuff to learn. Nobody recognizes that. Nobody acknowledges that huge focus change. It’s an incredible disruption in life, and nobody talks about coping with it.
“Diabetes is an intense way to live. It’s intense.” said Lisa, “There are days when it absorbs all of who I am.”
That stuck with me – because she is right. Diabetes is intense. But we get so practiced, and do so many things over and over again, we lose sight of just how intense everything in our day really is.
It’s not until the end of the day when the exhaustion washes over me and is replaced by a fear of what may happen while I sleep. And because that process happens every single day, I find that I’m a bit numb to it…
She told the story of an endocrinologist who was surprised to see a patients entire body relax once he delivered the results of an improved A1C test. He didn’t even realize how stressful it is for people to come in and see him — that’s something we think of as a no-brainer!
Lisa talked about finding what she calls “healthy familiars”. These are things that foster your well being, that foster your health, and that you can reach for when you’re feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed.
One of her favorites is a cup of green tea and a shawl. It helps her find a different feeling when she’s feeling bad. Rather than reaching for stuff that makes her feel guilty, she has, very purposefully, created these things that both comfort her and support her well being. I love that. But I think I’ll need to find something other than Diet Coke.
“We are not alone,” she says, “it often feels that way, but we’re not alone. We’re not flawed, we’re not less than. Diabetes may mean we need extra care and extra love, but I don’t think that is asking too much.”
Lisa ended her fantastic talk by saying “it’s not a bad thing to give ourselves love and care.”
Lisa is the author of a fun Disney book called ‘Disneystrology‘. It is not directly diabetes related, but she says it was the process of writing and assembling this book that really helped her find herself in regards to her life with diabetes.
It was a pleasure listening to Lisa present again, and if you are ever given the chance to hear her present, I encourage you to make it happen.
If you’d like information about any of the local support groups I attend here in the Twin Cities metro area, let me know and I’ll fill you in.