With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many of us are taking time to reflect on what we are thankful for. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about what I am thankful for, and I really surprised myself when some things related to diabetes made my list. Let me explain.
It is no secret that living with diabetes comes with many challenges. But I have learned that living with diabetes can bring opportunities for learning and growth in some unexpected ways. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 14 years ago, I could not have imagined the challenges – or the opportunities – that diabetes would give me. While reflecting on what I am thankful for, I realized that my life includes many things that I would not have, if not for diabetes – and for many of these things I am thankful.
Now before you call me crazy and stop reading this blog, let me say that it would be a dream come true not to have to live with diabetes – and all the challenges it brings – even for just one day.
That being said, having diabetes has given me some (unexpected) gifts for which I am very thankful:
- A heightened awareness of my body: As a person with diabetes, I am very aware of my body and how I am feeling. I know this awareness, which I developed by living with diabetes for the past 14 years, helps me to make healthier choices and be a healthier person.
- A better understanding of nutrition: As someone who loves to cook and eat, living with diabetes has really made me aware of what I put into my body. I may not always make the best food choices, but I am more aware of how certain foods affect me, and I know this knowledge helps me to eat healthier.
- A higher frustration tolerance: I try to keep a pretty tight reign on my blood sugars, but sometimes, despite by best efforts, my blood sugars get out of whack for no good reason. This can be really frustrating! But I am learning to accept that no matter how hard I try, my blood sugars will not always be perfect. Accepting this fact has made it easier for me to live with other frustrations in my life, including not always having a good explanation when everything doesn’t go right.
- A stronger relationship with my wife: When I met my wife, she had no idea about diabetes. In getting to know me, she also got a crash course in diabetes. Over the years, she has been my biggest supporter and is there with me during the good diabetes times and the bad, which has helped to strengthen our relationship.
- A fulfilling career: I am a health psychologist. This is a career I would have never considered, or probably even knew existed, if I did not have diabetes. A big part of my job is to help people with health conditions like diabetes to live healthy lives – something I am passionate about. I am able to use my passion to help others and I couldn’t ask for more!
This Thanksgiving, I would encourage you to think about what unexpected “gifts” diabetes has given you, that you are thankful for.