All posts by Michael

The Path……

I’m tired.  I know….no one wants hear that from someone else.  It’s ok on this site because there is an “upfront agreement” that it’s appropriate to ‘vent’ or express hardship because we all share a similar challenge that few others can even begin to relate to.  I’m in my 43rd year since becoming aware that I “had” T1D.  I’m 56 years of age fast approaching 57.  . . .  Boy, could I tell you some stories……But that’s not the point of this post.  What is the point?  

I don’t have any complications other than the naturally prevalent and evolving Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  A few years ago I told my doctor that I was feeling increased anxiety and the blues.  He suggested I sit down and chat with someone.  I did.  After three sessions I got my diagnosis.  Now….I completed one year of graduate school in psychology so I was somewhat cognizant of the many possible psychiatric disorders that have been invented including the 10 personality disorders.  Yes, it was 1995 when I learned all about this stuff and, therefore, I was not completely up to date.  And the field of psychology has been, is and will probably continue to be in a state of constant “flux.”  Therefore, I was surprised to find out that I was diagnosed with a new personality disorder called “Adjustment Disorder.”  My first reaction was …. DUH.  Then I laughed.  I said to my “counselor:…”Of course, half sarcastically, it makes perfect sense!  How does one really adjust to T1D?  Because, to be honest, it’s a clusterfuck; an impossible task.  Yet, I am still here.

The therapist went on…..It is like “Cognitive Dissonance.”  I said, “Of course it is.” Then I said….”What do you suggest I do?”  All of this……The diabetes, the adjustment disorder, the cognitive dissonance, the left vs. the right, good and evil, Light and Dark, YIN and YANG…..is the duality of our lives.  

I am tired of this interplay between my physical body, and my maladjusted mind and injected insulin.  This dissonance.  This adjustment disorder.  This dysfunction.  This DIS-EASE.  Results in such UN-EASE at times.  It’s Exhausting.

What’s the point?  Is it just survival?  Because, at times, that is the way it is……Crawling to the fridge at 3am with a blood sugar of 28….downing a pint of lemonade and eating a bag of chips with french onion dip…disconnecting my pump because just the thought of more insulin dripping in is deeply alarming….passing out as the blood sugar begins to elevate….waking up at 7am with a mouth so dry I can’t talk….Headache. feel like I ran into a brick wall…check bg…412…..get out the syringes…pump it up!

You can do it Michael, says my family, friends and supporters.  Most don’t even know the battle, of course….and those that do …….know that I can do it…at times.  At times..I am just tired.  

What do I do now?  It does feel like I am in the season of “End Times.”  Kinda coincides with all that’s happening in our world.  Things are about to change.  It doesn’t look good or maybe it does?  Because you can’t have anything in this life without its polar opposite.

Here is my point……There has to be a blessing to this curse.  This sucks.  There must be a reason.  I know through my yoga practice and other studies of a TRUTH that keeps me going even though I am tired.  I know that “This too shall pass.”  I’ve been through a lot with diabetes.  Been low and been high.  It is more difficult for us to find the middle path than with someone with a normal physical body.  Or maybe not!  I believe that the blessing of diabetes is in the lesson it teaches us about the arising of the polar opposites…of the duality….of the interplay between yin and yang and the battle between Light and Dark.  

The Buddha would put it this way….”It is equanimity and awareness.  Like the wings of a bird.  Or the two wheels of a cart.  When practiced together they lead to liberation from suffering.  If either is weak or lacking, it is impossible to progress along the path.” 

Buckminster Fuller says….”Total Accountability and Total Feedback Constitute the minimum and only perpetual motion system.”

Kripalu yoga instructs.. ..”First Proper Alignment …Second..Find and explore your edge.”

While my physical body and mind grow weary….my heart and soul are beginning to awaken to the “hope” that there is more to this than surviving.  I won’t get religious.  But allow me to inject a spiritual perspective to inquire into if so inspired.  If easily triggered by this topic please stop reading here.

The Kabbalists……And btw, Kabbalah is not a religion.  It is more like a spiritual map or decoding program of the “spiritual world.  Trigger alert!!  Jesus was a Kabbalist.  Anyway, they would say that the purpose of life comes down to an understanding of The Creation Story itself and the “Why” behind it.  And, without expounding on those things at this time……We are here because of the need for, In Hebrew everyone…… TIKUNE.  TIKUNE, defined, means “Fixing” or “Rectification.”  What needs to be fixed?  What needs to be rectified?  The answer is our VESSEL TO RECEIVE THE LIGHT OF FULFILLMENT;  THE LIGHT OF THE CREATOR.  Why does it need to be fixed?  Well…that’s the questions isn’t it?  Kinda like Jeopardy.  

Again, I am not writing this to promote a faith or a dogmatic system of understanding our existence……There are many “maps” of the territory.  I have referenced several in this post already….Yoga, The Buddha, Chinese Medicine, Kabbalah.  Bucky Fuller …… But for a moment suspend your disbelief and consider Diabetes…….

We are missing the “key” that opens the “door” to the cells (vessels) of our body that permits glucose (energy, light) to flow. ….. It is said that the opponent always attacks through the immune system.   It must.  Why was our immune system comprised?  

Ok.  I will wrap up for now…..I feel a little better.  Thanks.

The Five Phases – a map of the territory

The Five Phases

A Map of The Territory

An Approach to Mastery and Transcendence of Diabetes

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in November of 1976 at the age of 14.  T1D is one of the most misunderstood physical conditions.  I believe it is misunderstood because, in a normal body, the affected systems are in perpetual motion without conscious thought.  Furthermore, it is complicated.  There are some fundamental components to the system which was destroyed through a roque immune system response. The fundamental components include food, insulin, physical activity, blood glucose levels, injections, finger pricks, water….But there are other factors that have influence on this system of insulin production and use.  Factors like stress, sickness, depression, infusion site issues, finances, complications, being different, performance issues…..It effects every other system of the body because all of the systems seem to be integrated.

Over the 42 years that I have had to manually inject insulin while keeping my blood sugar levels in a “safe” range in order to physically survive, I have become somewhat of a “systems inquirer.”  There are infinite systems throughout the universe and within the physical body.  There are many ways to describe a system.  A description is a map.  A map of the territory.  As T1D’s the doctor or the CDE will be talking and it will sound like blah, blah, blah, sometimes because it is such a rudimentary map they are presenting and we have heard it before.  We know that there is no way they could possibly understand.  My mother and my brother and a few close friends are the closest to understanding but they stop short when they become aware of how horrible it really is.  Few people understand the feeling of blood sugar swings like we do.  All of them have needed a snickers bar because they got irritated.  A few have passed out because they are hypoglycemic.  But none of them know what it feels like day in and day out with the sword of Damocles hanging over us in the form of potential “complications”.

There is no one way to describe a map.  I have found it beneficial to look at several maps of the same or similar territories in order cultivate a deeper understanding of the territory.  And since joining this site I have been inspired to chip through my 2 year long writer’s block and get it done.  I have written for several years and posted a lot of it in my blog and website.  I believe the link is in my profile.  A few years back I wrote a blog series called “Transforming Diabetes.” It’s a 9 blog series where I am attempting to describe the system of managing bg’s as a T1D and integrate some yoga system principles throughout.  Two years ago I wrote a blog series called “The Yellow Brick Road.”  Both blog series are on the tab portion.  Now I am starting to write the “Five Phases.”  I am excited about getting this done because it is really the culmination of 25 years of work. 

The Five Phases will be a description (a map) of living with diabetes in this world (the territory).  I will be presenting multiple perspectives of systems. Buckminster Fuller was one of this most prolific thinkers and inventors of the 20th Century.  He was the ultimate systems guy.  He said in a long essay where he was re-thinking the Lord’s Prayer and the Creation of the Universe:

“Total Accountability and Total Feedback

Constitute the minimum and only

Perpetual Motion System.”

The System we must put in place, monitor, manage, carry around and live with is no different.

Life AS a type 1 diabetic

Yes, low carbs helps.  Figure out your trends.  Test a lot.  Workout.  Fast to check your basal rates.  Workout.  Drink Water.  Meditate.  Don’t give up.  Hang tough.  I am not a very good diabetic in the sense of all those things.  There are times when I was all over it.  There were times I didn’t get off the couch and ate potato chips and beer.  Cultivate the attitude of private investigator.  Think of managing blood sugars like flying a plane.  The food you eat is your fuel.  The insulin is the acceleration system.  Your test strips or CGM is your altimeter.  The physical condition of the plane is the physical condition of your body.  Connect to the “Athlete Within.”  Take some time to find your “Edge.”  Inquire into yoga.  Hang tough!  I’m still here after 43 years of this nonsense. Could go at any moment though. “I’m hovering like fly waiting for the windshield on the highway.”  Lyrics from one of my favorite albums……Put the headphones on.

 In the meantime, I quest on for a cure.  Namaste.

The Buddha

Questions:  What does inquiring into the Buddha have to with diabetes?  What value could I possibly get from reading about, studying, testing a few of his “techniques.’? Does it have anything to do with Religion because I am out of here if it does?  I believe in science and evolution and have no time for anything that is not grounded in science so I probably won’t read on if that is ok with you?   I’m interested, will you continue?

Me:  Yes.  

I was 14 when I was diagnosed.  As most, if not all of you, know – this is quite the shocking event.  When I look back, one of the “processes” I went through was The Grief Process. If you are not familiar with it, it is a 5 step process human beings seem to go through when experiencing great loss whether that be a death of someone close, losing a pet, sustaining a serious injury, a chronic illness…etc.  It could be the loss of anything that is perceived as valuable or which there has been, is or could be attachment to.  

A diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is certainly a loss.  In computer network terms (and the physical human body is much like a computer network) it is a point of critical failure.  A critical system of the body has been attacked and damaged to the point of total system failure.  The body cannot continue on.  Until the advent of insulin that is.  

In my opinion, the most profound TRUTH that the Buddha taught was that suffering has a Cause. The Buddha was a prince of a wealthy kingdom before he became the Buddha.  All of his desires were fulfilled immediately and abundantly.  He wanted for nothing.  But one day he escaped outside the walls of the kingdom and he witnessed much suffering.  To make a long story short he sat under a cool looking tree and had one of those Aha moments and discovered the root cause of all suffering.  

The Buddha discovered that all things that arise are bound to pass away.  He saw The Matrix in all its glory..

He saw that Nature was impermanent.  In Sanskrit this is called Annica; The Nature of Impermanence.  If you know anything about Quantum Physics or watched the movie…”What the bleep do we Know,” you know what I am talking about here.  

He discovered that suffering arises because of attachment.  And attachment arises because of craving and aversion.  And craving and aversion arise because of the mind’s momentary reactions of liking and disliking.  The more intense the reaction of liking and disliking, the stronger the ruts (Sankharas) of craving and aversion.  The stronger the craving and aversion the stronger the attachment.  And, the stronger the attachment, the more there is suffering.

It is nearly impossible to live a life without attachment and therefore, without suffering.  We all attach to things we like, want, don’t want, wish for, desire, love.  We become attached to our parents, friends, jobs, identity, ego, children, way of life, worldview……anything you can imagine.  According to the Buddha and great Zen Masters, the enlightened person consciously chooses what he/she will attach to, knowing full well that it will lead to suffering. The awakened one chooses his/her suffering.

Losing the ability to naturally produce insulin is a great loss. Talk about attachment.  The irony is sooo profound.  We are now attached to insulin, pumps, CGM’s, glucose tabs, alcohol swabs…..

The Buddha has nothing to do with Religion.  Yes, a religion has been created in his name.  Exactly like a few other religions.  A matter a fact, all religion is man made.  Sure, it may be Divinely inspired but all of it is man made.  Does that make it bad or invalid? Certainly not.  We live off ingenious man made inventions.  

I could go on…..I have studied many religions and metaphysical “maps of the territory.”  All of them are maps.  And the map is not the territory.  Just like science.  Science is a map.  At best, science is an accurate description.  Science is the “sense” of humanity and the world we live in.  Religion, on the other hand, is the “soul” of humanity and the world we live in.  In my opinion, it is a huge mistake to disregard, ignore or dismiss religion and spiritual inquiry.  It’s like “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

This condition we have is a profoundly emotional, mental and spiritual dis-ease along with it being a physical challenge.  

The Buddha’s discovery was that the root cause of all suffering was IGNORANCE. Specifically, the ignorance of the nature of impermanence.  If we believe that something will never pass away or decay or be lost then we are deluding ourselves.  

As Type 1’s we are rudely awakened to the nature impermanence simply in the fluctuations of our blood glucose levels.  

If Ignorance is the cause then the cure must be awareness of, awakening to, conscious of.

The Buddha’s teaching is a path of Wisdom and Enlightenment through the witnessing of the nature of impermanence while minimizing reactions of liking or disliking (Equanimity).  This is real meditation.  Now that is a yoga pose!!!…

i have a dream

I’m in my 43rd year of living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).  

My new endo told me that I will get some kind of medal from the Joslin Institute when I reach 50.  Really.  Who cares?  They get a chip after 30 days in AA, NA, GA and SA.

17 years ago I made a “push”. I was 39 yrs old, broke, in debt up the wazoo, out of shape, not taking care of myself…..I figured if I did not make a change I wouldn’t make it to 42.  Over a 2 year period I started inquiring into several “things”, like…… writing, reading, yoga, meditation, running, acupuncture, massage, eating well, cranial sacral therapy, and more.  It was slow at first. Then stuff began happening.  I got a job, I was getting in shape, feeling better about myself.  Life changed.  I got out of debt, started making good money, got in shape, blood sugars starting coming down/better control, I was happier.  

During this time I had a three month period of time where I took off from work and really connected with my current “edge” and began to “push” against it.  I reduced insulin requirement up to 50%, at times.  I mean long period of times (week or so).   Since that time the roller coaster reached the top and started its’ descent.  What goes up is going to come down.  It’s a long story and I will spare the details, for now.  It can be summed up as this. I went from A1C’s in the 9’s, broke, in debt, depressed, feeling hopeless and helpless, not working out, addicted to things I need not be addicted to…..I went from this to In top physical shape; I could run 5 miles under 50 minutes.  I could do 2 Bikram yoga classes in one day.  My weight was ideal.  I felt strong.  I made enough money to buy a cool condo in Boca Raton, Fl within walking distance of my Bikram Yoga Studio.  It was a 5 minute drive to the beach.  I had a lot of free time.  Things were good.  

I got on the pump and I changed my attitude about testing my blood sugars.  I wanted to know.  I tested 10-15 times a day and loved the flexibility of the pump.  With the combination of getting in super physical shape and having the pump, I got my A1C’s in the low 6’s. I ate anything I wanted.  I wanted to eat good.  

I have often compared managing blood sugar as a type 1 to flying a plane.  The physical plane itself is the physical body.  I had transformed my physical body into a stealth fighter jet.  It wanted. It needed good fuel in the food I was eating.  I needed to inject insulin but the insulin seemed to be working better.  I needed less.  I was personally experiencing one of the most profound yoga principles;  “LESS IS MORE.”  I was getting this at so many levels.

My dream is to share this experience with others who are challenged by type 1 diabetes.  Whether that be the person with diabetes, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a healthcare worker (that includes you doctors). They sometimes think they are special and in a group of their own. My father was a doctor and I have met a lot of them…so I know.  

This is how I want to share it.  I want to “host” an intensive retreat like program where I demonstrate and guide others into an inquiry of what I did, how to do it and why.  Not like a boot camp or simply an educational experience.  It is an immersive training which will be based on the principles of yoga and Natural Law Principles.  I have a support “team” in place right now.  It includes a CDE, an acupuncturist and cranial sacral therapist, a Bio-feedback specialist, a life coach and a few yoga teachers incluing one who is a Bikram Certified Teacher.  

Each day will consist of:

*2  yoga classes/day

*Meditation

*Walking

*1-2     hours classroom meeting discussing many topics including yoga     principles and applying to diabetes management, spiritual     metaphysical “map” inquiries.

*Great     Food.   Will, of course, accommodate for vegetarian.

*Some     form of body/mind work.  Could be acupuncture, light therapy,     massage, cranial sacral therapy, bio-feedback, life coaching….and     a few more.      

*There will also be a few opportunities to do a few other things like go to the beach or an excursion to Captiva or Sanibel Island.

I visualize the retreat being in South Florida around the Fort Myers area.  I want it to happen in November of 2019.  I want to keep this initial one small (8-12 participants).  And my dream doesn’t end there……..

In a way, this is my new five year plan.  I’m turning 57 in 2 weeks. Still here.  No complications (knock on wood).  I think that what I did 17 years ago is a huge factor in why I am still here.  I’ve come to realize that it is best done in “spurts.”  Interval like. And an intensive retreat where we are focusing on where our edge is and working on expanding can be a profound “spurt.”  It’s kinda of like intuitevely knowing to do a combo bolus.  The body wants to receive it in spurts some short and some a bit longer.

I want the initial retreat participants to be those who want to not only personally experience pushing their edge but also have a desire to help others with our condition.  T1D is like a yoga pose.  It is like walking on a high wire.  And it is like flying a plane.  So, my dream is that from this initial retreat we plan a second one and then some will qualify to lead their own retreat.  

I have so much more I want to say and if you are interested in it let me know or visit the link to my blog site where I have been writing about all of this for the last 10 years.  

I will write a future post called My Dream 2.  Where I can expand on some of this.  It’s awesome for me as well because I am creating something which provides me an opportunity to do this work more and more.  I have done it with others but not people with diabetes.   I have worked with a few people who were depressed and addicted.  There is a close parallel to these conditions and diabetes.  A few of these people wrote client reviews and I posted them in my blog section as well under Client Reviews.

If you read this far, Thank you.  It is very beneficial for me to just write about this even if no one reads it.