transforming diabetes

Diabetes is an epidemic in our society.

There are 28 million Americans dealing with the dis-ease.

5% of these cases is Type 1 diabetes which is an immune deficiency disease brought on by a malfunction in the immune system from a virus or outside agent of some kind.

Type 1 requires injected insulin to survive.

It requires 24/7 monitoring.

However, there are no guarantees.

It is a very difficult situation and it requires tremendous resources to deal with.

Most diagnosed with Type 1 are children or adolescents.

Diabetes is a condition that arises in a person’s life which can create great pain and sorrow not only for the person afflicted but also for family, friends and co-workers.

There are the syringes, alcohol swabs, finger pricks, infusion sets, pumps, blood tests, doctor visits and a restricted diet.

Being outside of normal blood sugar range does not feel good.

Being above normal (high) is stressful and wears on the body.

Below normal blood sugar (low) is confusing and frightening.

Add to that the possible complications associated with the condition like kidney disease, blindness, neuropathy and death and you have an extremely challenging situation with this condition.

In my experience, one of the misconceptions about diabetes is that it is simply a physical condition that can be treated medically.  This approach did not work for me.

The foundation of my approach is based on my experience of over 40 years living with the condition combined with a holistic, systemized process.

It effects the whole system of a person;  physiology, psychology, relationships, career, emotions and will.

Simply addressing the physical is not enough if you want to truly manage diabetes.

I have lived through just about every experience that a person with Type 1 diabetes can have.

Living with diabetes, like living life, is really about starting over every day.

I am now 55 years old and in good health.

I have no complications.

While at my last visit to the eye doctor he said…”Michael, keep doing what you are doing because your eyes are perfect.  I have never seen anyone with diabetes as long as you have had it without some changes in the retina.”

My A1C results have been below 7.0 for the past 10 years.

This has been done with eating anything I have wanted to eat.

Insulin, pills, pumps, syringes, blood tests, doctors and diet are all important components of diabetes management.

However, my experience informs me that the most important resource will be your personal connection and union with body-mind and spirit.

Balance reveals peace and joy.

This is not a quick fix and it is not the same for everyone.

It takes commitment and perseverance.

A few years after I was diagnosed I wrote an essay called…

“Walking the High Wire.”

‘I’m risking my life on the high wire, and they’re complaining!’

That is how I saw “my” diabetes then.

Felt like I was sent to the circus to perform this high wire act.

It was downright impossible to stay on that wire.

I was falling off all the time.

There are gusts of wind in the form of injection/infusion site issues, stress, hormones and the common cold.

Most of my time and effort was spent trying to get back up on the wire.

A fall to the right meant high blood sugar and being tired and run down.

A fall to the left was a low blood sugar episode that often resulted in a boomerang type effect that sent blood sugar soaring way up.

When I did find myself actually on the wire (in normal blood sugar range), it was often by accident and I was probably just passing by on my way to one side or the other.

It felt like a rollercoaster and I was damned if do and damned if I don’t.

Pretty much the definition of Helplessness.

Is it hopeless as well?

What was I to do?

Thank God for my support system back then.

Thank you Mom, Dad, my siblings, friends, coaches and teachers who looked out for me.

Without them I would not be here.

When short acting insulin was invented, I started taking Lantus once a day and several shots of humalog to cover meals.

I felt like I moved from the high wire to the balance beam.

I could stay in normal range for longer periods of time and the falls were not as drastic.

I had an easier time getting back up on the beam than I did getting on that thin high wire.

Still, the level of difficulty was high.

I spent most of my time on the floor getting back up.

About 15 years ago I got really good at it.

  1.  I made a decision that I had to take 100% responsibility for my situation.
  2. I had to stop playing the victim and take full ownership for my path.
  3. I re-discovered the athlete in me. I started to work out hard. I ran, walked, lifted weights and started to take yoga classes.

It was the balancing influence of yoga that awakened me to the metaphor of flying a plane.

Ten years ago I made the decision to go on the insulin pump.

Simply put, the insulin pump is the best way to deliver insulin for a person with type 1 diabetes.

I would qualify this statement by saying that it requires a commitment to “Fly the Plane.”

It is a condition that affects every facet of a person’s life and taking a shot or a pill is not enough to get the job done.

You can fly the plane if you are on Lantus and humalog injections.

It is just not going to be as well equipped as it would be with the insulin pump.

This is probably the best time to mention Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM’s) (I have one and I have used it.)

Theoretically, it provides a more advanced altimeter for our plane. It provides a blood glucose reading every five minutes.

Personally, there are a few reasons I don’t use it.

It requires another “port site.”

My body does not like this.

The port is not stable enough for me.

I workout a lot and I sweat. The port came off often.

I have had some bad readings from them. It is too cumbersome for me.  More information would be valuable but I will wait until they can figure out how to make it less intrusive.

Learning to Fly the Plane is a five step training.

It mirrors a process I learned 25 years ago and have used in my career as a Corporate Trainer and Systems and Procedures Designer.

I have learned a few things as a trainer that are important to go over at the outset.

First, there are basically three areas which can be addressed in training:

  • Knowledge. Information can be imparted and retained. You will certainly gain a lot of experiential information here that a doctor or healthcare professional does not have.
  • Skills. I will be covering some skills that are essential to managing and living with diabetes.
  • Attitude. Perhaps the most important area of all three. Attitude is our thought context. I have experienced many attitudes toward having diabetes. I will discuss many of them and point to a few that have been more optimal than others.

This process is not linear, it is cyclical.

Every day presents a new challenge and situation.

It is important to keep the cup half full.

Stay in the attitude of inquiry as you travel through the steps.

“People are like fruit.  When they are green they grow, when they are ripe they rot.”

Stay green.

Step One:    Confront

  • Confronting the reality of the situation
  • “Showing up on the mat”
  • Breathing
  • Building a foundation from the ground up
  • Being in the present moment
  • Introduction to Flying the Plane Analogy

Step 2:  Understand

  • Everything is moving.
  • Learning to move with it
  • The Detective Attitude
  • Making modifications and adjustments

 Step 3: Integrate

  • Putting it all together
  • Systems and Procedures
  • Integrating food and the workout.

Step 4: Master

  • Exploring Your Edge
  • Advanced Techniques
  • Getting Better Every day
  • Discovering the athlete in you

Step 5: Manifest

  • Validate Results
  • Recognizing Accomplishments
  • Growth
  • Transformation
  • Healing

Seven years ago I wrote a series of blogs in an attempt to share my approach to living with and managing diabetes.   Here are the links to The Transforming Diabetes Series:  

Click on light green links to access posts.



The Journey Begins

The Problem

Breaking It Down

The Integrated System

The Heart Of The Matter

The Reward

The Art Of Living

The Yellow Brick road

The “Yellow Brick Road” is a 10 blog series;  An introduction and initial orientation to several “maps of the territory” I have discovered in my 40 years in search of a cure for “my” condition of Type 1 Diabetes.

When I was 14 (going to turn 55 next month) I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My biggest challenge in life has been living with this dis-ease.  It is an extremely difficult and dangerous physical condition.

Without injecting insulin I would not survive for much more than a few days.  From the day I was diagnosed my greatest desire has been to experience a healing; a cure.  I have not found the “cure” yet, however, my quest to fulfill my desire has introduced me to multiple paths of inquiry.

Fifteen years ago I was introduced to Yoga and Chinese Medicine and Crania-Sacral Therapy and Kabbalah and Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics and Vipassana Meditation and Zen and many other wonderful, dynamic and profound wisdom paths and inquiries of Truth.

The experience of living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) has been and continues to be a profound “map” for me.

The structure of this presentation is a step-by-step, or,  a brick-by-brick, process texturized and colored with the introduction and orientation of multiple scientific, meta-physical and mystical perspectives; “maps of the territory.”

Interjected throughout are some short video clips, personal experiences and awarenesses.

The video’s are for imparting information, introducing “tools” we may acquire during our journey, and setting the “mood.” or cognitive-emotional “canvas.”  The music videos don’t have to be listened to their end.  You will probably “get it” once you hear the first couple seconds of a song.   Some of them are worth the listen all the way through, I think.

Simply click on the light green link to access each “Brick.”

Continue reading The Yellow Brick road

The Growth process

A great Zen Master once said ….

“We are all traveling in a big circle.

Does not matter much where on the circle you are.  

What is important is that you keep moving.”

There are many ways to view movement.  One way is through the lens of growth and development…..


Stage 1 – CONFUSION:  What is the desired outcome?  What is the challenge? What game are we playing?  What is the objective?

If the cup is full there is no desire to grow.  This is the awareness stage.  What is not known is allowed to be included.  Every journey starts with the first step.  This is step one in the process.  There may be several objectives that are identified that are in need of attention.  It is best to start with one.  Stage one is the process of confronting confusion with conscious awareness and resolving to engage with a positive, solution oriented and responsible approach and attitude.

Stage 2 – EXPLORATION:  What are the components/functions involved?  What must be accounted for?  What are the ingredients?  This is the brainstorming stage.

 We have identified the game or ‘movie’ we have decided to play out. Now, we must equip ourselves with what is needed to play.  When in brainstorming mode, it is important to cultivate an open and non judgmental mind set.  Good practice is to list everything that is thought of and then go through and prioritize in order of importance.

Stage 3 – INCUBATION:   What is our strategy?  How are we going to play?  What systems and procedures do we need to put in place?  This is the creative step.  We take our list of ingredients, component parts and functions we identified in stage 2 and create innovative, design oriented processes to get done what needs to get done.  We create checks and balances and feedback loops.

It’s analogous to obtaining and mixing together all the ingredients needed to create a cake and putting it into the oven to bring it all together.

Stage 4: ILLUMINATION:   Time to Implement.  This is the Action step in the process.  In the game analogy, this is play.  This is the engagement stage.  We are working the systems, procedures and training that we identified and created.

The seed that was planted in stage 1 blossoms.

Stage 5 – CELEBRATION:  If there is growth then there is a result or outcome.  This stage in the process is about managing outcomes.  What do we do with them?

The fruit has manifested. Optimal outcome management celebrates this with enjoyment and appreciation.

The fruit contains the seed.

This is about giving back or sharing and going “back” to stage 1 to continue a new growth cycle.

I have created and discovered multiple perspectives of this five step process.

An important part of my philosophy involves the concept of restriction.

It is through the process of restriction that all things of value are birthed.

Think about the birth of  a human being or the outcome of the energy that an accomplished athlete puts into the countless hours of working out and practice.

Every business flow or system should have restrictions built into it.

Without restriction the flow will bleed out quickly, the system will short circuit or burn out.