“Feed the Warrior by training the body to follow the mind.” I heard Lance Armstrong say this on a TV commercial the other day. It sounds like a quote from the Marines but it may be a Lance Armstrong original, I don’t know. I have been thinking about it in terms of how I deal with my Type 1 diabetes. Dealing with Type 1 diabetes requires a creation of a manual system to deliver insulin and to obtain and maintain good blood sugar levels. The body is a manifestation of the mind. At the same time the body and mind are forever connected and interconnected in our present state as human beings. In my yoga training I was taught that the mind has a casual body and the body has a gross mind. The warrior in us is an attitude. It is an attitude that can be described with characteristics like persistence, confidence, strength and courage among others. This is the attitude that is best adopted when confronting and dealing with an “enemy” such as diabetes. Perhaps enemy is too strong a word for some of you. If it is, then replace it with opponent. But make not mistake, we are always in a state of competition. You can choose to sit on the sidelines and not engage or you can strive to be on the starting team and play like you mean it. That part is up to you. So, with respect to taking on Type 1 Diabetes, we are tasked with staying alive and maintaining health by injecting insulin, taking close account of what we eat, exercising (or not), and testing blood sugar levels to obtain feedback on how well we are balancing. It requires constant contact with the enemy/opponent. Ok, I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you that my highest goal in this fight is to defeat the enemy. I have chosen not to play this game in a way where I become friends or partners with my opponent. I have decided not to relent or concede defeat to the disease. My objective is to win. And for me, that means I have defeated my opponent and I move on to the next competition that is placed in front of me. I intend to “heal” diabetes. I intend to experience a day in my life when I can say the game is over with this opponent. I have never and will never come to a point of acceptance of its power over me. That would be defeat. I believe that this warrior attitude I have cultivated has been the primary reason why I am healthy after 31 years of fighting. At times it has not felt like a fair fight. I have gotten depressed, have lost hope, felt defeated, wanted to give up but for some reason have been blessed with strong support of others who are my “brothers and sisters in arms.” They have helped me stay alive to fight the next day and the next. Think about the advantages of making the warrior attitude yours. I believe that in our current situation on earth there is really no better choice. Always remember that the enemy or opponent is never found in another person and neither is your warrior. Others are cast members in your movie. Some may appear as opponents but they are only acting as a mirror for you to see the direction to take. Both the enemy and the warrior reside in you. Which one will you feed?
The past few weeks have been challenging for me. I had a record low reading of 27 at 4 in the morning. I have been as high as 300. I have used the analogy of flying a plane in describing what it is like to have to manually balance blood sugars. I have never actually flown a plane so the analogy is really based off of what I would imagine it to be. When I was in my 20’s I wrote a 3 page paper entitled “Walking the High Wire.” I was describing the balancing act I engage in as I attempt to keep my blood sugars in as normal a range as I can. Normal is between 80 and 120. I think the biggest myth about diabetes is the thought concept that it is similar to having high blood pressure. The Myth is that diabetes means you have high blood sugar and that if you take your medicine then it will bring it down. Not exactly. I am not saying that the two diseases are not alike. In fact, they are. It is just, like with any other disease, the medicine is only one component of many that are involved. Our society’s understanding of disease is such that the component of medicine is often given more significance in the process of healing then it should. This is understandable given the recent past’s and present advances in medicine. This understanding of the process has created in our society’s consciousness an attitude that I think is not the most effective thought context to have in engaging with the issue of disease today. This attitude has served us well up to this point but is now creating a toxic situation in the area of main stream health care. Everything that is born must die. This includes ways of doing things and ways of thinking about things. The role of Medicine must be redefined. It must be given its new role where it will flourish. The current role that Medicine is playing here and now has ripened and fallen off the tree. This is not a bad thing. It is a good thing and a natural thing. When the plane starts to experience turbulence it is sometimes hard to get back in balance. The whole thing is compounded by the emotional and physical effects of the highs and the lows. I feel depressed and anxious with highs and lows and I tend to overreact. I know this much from past experience……….When I am out of control something is up. What I mean by this is that I am up against an issue that I am dealing with. Initially it is usually unconscious; below the surface so to speak. I have a choice. I can suppress it and not deal with it and it will either persist or retreat to come back sometime in the future. My other choice is to work it out. To bring it to the surface of consciousness and address it. What is it this time? I am not quite sure but I have some clues. Writing these blogs has helped me to work some of these issues out and to, consequently, get back in control. It is a balancing act. And as with balancing on a high wire when one side becomes heavier or lighter than the other side a correction must be made. As with flying a plane, if the plane gets to an undesirable altitude then the pilot must make the necessary adjustments. We are always seeking balance. Yoga has taught me to come back to the breath first. Start with deep breathing, then become conscious and finally let go. As Type 1 diabetics we are given the task of seeking balance. This can be either a constant pain in the ass or an opportunity for learning. And the learned eventually become the teachers and so it goes.