By Nancy Klobassa, R.N., and Peggy Moreland, R.N.
I recently found out that someone from my past, whom I had lost contact with, died several years ago at age 51. This young man had a special place in my teenage heart and I’m grieving his death. I was also informed that he had developed type 1 diabetes, after my knowing him (it’s my understanding his death was unrelated to the diabetes).
Lately, I’ve been feeling a little more philosophical and I’ve been thinking about the ups and downs we all face in life. Just when we think everything is going well, we hit a speed bump, a roadblock or even our own demise. I think being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes would be a definite roadblock — or more likely make you feel like you got hit by a Mack truck.
How does one, day in and day out, cope and continue to cope with a chronic disease such as diabetes? Is there ever a halcyon time? “Halcyon” comes from a bird identified with the kingfisher, and in an ancient legend it nested at sea during winter solstice and just by its very presence calmed the waves during incubation. Does it seem that there periods when managing your diabetes is easier than usual, and other times it seems like no matter what you do the blood sugars are out of control?
I see in my practice some people who never find a halcyon period in coping with their diabetes. We all know that everyone has different coping skills, and I’ve seen individuals with diabetes who have great coping skills. To them, diabetes is little more than an inconvenience.
What are good coping skills and how do we develop them? Try these tips:
§ Avoid negative thinking — “It doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll get diabetes complications anyway (not true).”
§ Self talk — It’s OK to talk to yourself, you’ll feel better.
§ Play music — I play the drums and there are times they really vibrate.
§ Do something — Walk, dance, clean the house, wash the car.
§ Call someone — Friends are good.
§ Pray — Someone who always listens.
§ Ride it out — Experience the wave of emotion and let it go.
§ Take a bath and add candlelight
§ Help someone else — Take the focus off yourself (poor you).
§ Write a blog — This week it was a helpful coping skill.