Category Archives: Diabetes

cognitive dissonance

Do you have COGNITIVE DISSONANCE?  We all have cognitive dissonance. It’s the nature of the reality we live in.  Anything arises does so with a polar opposite as well as all ‘points’ between the two. If you don’t have cognitive dissonance then you are immersed in the delusion of Maya.  What the hell does this have to do with Diabetes???

When I was 27 (In my 13th year since diagnosis), I was asked by a local hospital to be on an exploratory committee to explore the need for a “treatment/support program” that focused on the psycho-social issues surrounding the dis-ease of diabetes in children between the ages of 8-16.  A diagnosis of diabetes quickly creates an environment of chaos and emergence-y.  It’s similar to something going seriously wrong on a plane and the oxygen masks are deployed.  A “Correction” to the system must be instituted.  That correction, of course, is injectable insulin.  Hopefully, the plane is brought under “control” somehow by the pilots and a semblance of balance is restored.  But the plane will never be the same.  

As we were exploring, we came to believe, that, while the children were certainly dealing with a lot of emotional, mental and social issues, it was, in fact, the parents, who were most impacted.  We decided to turn our focus to a parents’ group.  We did a “pilot” program and a father who was obviously distressed because his eleven year old daughter was newly diagnosed, asked me……”How do you ever accept this?”

I felt his sense of hopelessness and helplessness.  He understood that the situation was serious and, I he was scared.  

I told him that the biggest desire I had was to cure the diabetes in myself.  I told him that I believed I could and that, therefore, I could never fully accept it.  I told him that I had been living and surviving with it for 13 years and, while challenging, it was doable. I will never forget this father asking me the question and the look on his face.  My father was a doctor.  He was always able to “fix” anything that went wrong with us.  He could not fix this.  

In my opinion, what must be accepted in order to get “the plane” back under enough control to keep flying is a continuous expansion of response-ability to the situation we face.  We are tasked with employing, understanding, managing and constantly monitoring a perpetual motion of the physical body that has been destroyed.  I have utilized a 5 step process …..

1. Confront head on, with integrity the reality of the situation. It’s a tough one but it is doable.  When I was diagnosed, I took one shot of long acting insulin in the morning and peed on a strip to see how much sugar I was spilling in my urine.  I was “flying blind.”  Today, we have pumps and CGM’s and much more knowledge of what is needed to stay in at a safe blood glucose “altitude” and stem off future complications.

2. Explore, Inquire and increase understanding of what needs to be accounted for and the feedback needed to continually improve results.

3. Integrate the quality of our confrontation and understanding to employ a system to manage both our blood glucose levels and our life.

4. Become a Master of this challenge and inspiration to others.  Doing this reduces self suffering and the suffering of others.  This was the Buddha’s objective; Find the cause of suffering and how to eradicate it. Diabetes has a way of creating an environment for immense suffering because it is something not wanted and appears as though it won’t go away.

5. Validate our results and share with others.  I sometimes call this 5th and final step “Celebration.”

This is a cyclical process and therefore we are constantly moving on to the “next step.”  A great Zen Master said, “The practice of Zen is like traveling along a circle.  Does not matter much where you are.  What is important is to keep moving.”

The metaphor of the plane is, obviously, to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body of the afflicted.  However, it is also comparable to the family unit.  In my experience, I am very aware how it has affected my siblings, my parents, my friends, my coworkers, my coaches, my team mates…etc….

When a child “gets it” the parent or parents are our co-pilots in assisting us to fly our own plane. I cannot tell you how much gratitude I have for the people around me who have supported me through this journey, which I am now into my 43rd year of.  There are times when I was not response-able and there were times when I was all over it.  There were times when I had a hard time confronting it head on and there were times when I said “bring it on.”  

Over the years I have written about my experience with diabetes.  I wrote a blog series called “Transforming Diabetes.”  My most recent blog is called “The Yellow Brick Road.” where I explore the 5 step process a bit deeper.  

I know that there is a “CURE.”  I know it because I desire it.  As long as I am here I will continue to work the process that I have discovered that has enabled me to stay here.  I will never accept that this will not change.  I believe that a deep Kabbalistic concept to be true.  That concept is that – Fulfillment is the seed of Desire.”  That implies that any desire we have, has, as its’ seed, its fulfillment.  Talk about cognitive dissonance!  

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.

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.   

The Cause

I got diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 14 in 1976.  Yep, I’m getting old but I still feel like that 14 year old in many ways.  It was different back then.  I was “flying blind.”  No short acting insulin, no test strips, no A1C test…Took one injection of NPH in the morning and rode the peak.  Mostly ate food by feel.  How I survived that…I don’t know.  For me, this “journey” has become spiritual in nature rather than physical.  I really didn’t think I was going to make it past 40 years of age.  I’m turning 57 at the end of the month.  It’s bonus time from here on out.

Yet, I am trapped, or at least I feel trapped. in this physical body that often does not feel well and needs to be poked with injections, infusion sites, finger pricks and all the other stuff involved.  The doctors told me, when I was diagnosed, that they were on to a cure and we should have one in 10 years at the most.  It’s been 42 and a “cure” is just as far out today as it was then.

For me, there is a cause.  There has to be.  If not, this suffering would be for nothing.   My education has taught me that there is a cause to everything.  We may not be able to detect it but it’s there.  There is a book published back in 1984 called “You Can Heal Your Life” written by Louise Hay.  It’s a book that connects dis-eases with mental/emotional/spiritual causes.  I remember, that one of the causes for diabetes was ……… “A Longing For Home.”  This resonated with me.  Prior to my diagnosis I had a few experiences of being desperately homesick when away to a hockey camp or a soccer camp.  I remember, the sick feeling at the “pit” of my stomach.  I was so nauseous I could not eat.  I was so upset I peed my bed.  Why, am I telling you this?  Am I saying that I got diabetes because i got homesick as a kid?  Nope.  I don’t know why I got this curse of a disease.  I’m over it.  

Type 1 diabetes ejects “you” from the home of the physical body.  It disrupts one of the many essential “perpetual motion systems” in the body. The destruction of the islet cells of the pancreas combined with a continued immune system response results in the death of the physical body.  In a matter of weeks or days.  That is not an opinion.  That is a fact. Without injecting insulin “you” are out of here.  Diablo has won.  But, just under 100 years ago a few guys invented a way to get insulin into these people who were dying of ‘Diabetes”.  

The story begins to change.  It is truly a miracle.  And over the years the treatment (way of getting insulin in and the way to test/check blood sugar levels) has improved.  But we are no closer to understanding the cause or finding a cure than we were 100 years ago.  At least on the physical plane. WHY?  What is this diabetes?  Why has it exploded into an epidemic in our society.  What is the cause?

My life, since diagnosis, has been a combination of survival, seeking immediate gratification and finding the cause and cure for this dis-ease that, from one perspective ruined my life and negatively affected those around me. This dis-ease has caused much suffering for me.  There must be a reason. There must be a cause.  I knew that the day I was diagnosed and I know that now.  

I’ve been on this for 42 years.  Some would tell me to let go of this DESIRE Michael and live your life.  You can live a normal life you just need to take your medicine and eat right.  For me, that wasn’t the case.  

Am I any closer to understanding why I got this?  Maybe.  I got my suspicions.  My seeking for the cause and a cure has taken me to some interesting places and teachings.  

Everyone, or almost everyone, has heard the cliche quote about this life……”We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.”  Well, if this is TRUE then why this physical experience of Type 1 Diabetes?