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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.

Introduction

Orientation

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.”

BRICK 1; The Mystery

“Better to be in the mystery than in the know.”  What do we really know? We are on a tiny planet in the boondocks of The Milky Way Galaxy which is one of a couple two-three billion other galaxies in the “known” universe. We seem trapped in a physical body with a mind capable of imagining just about anything.  Sounds like a mystery to me.  Step One in the growth cycle is Confusion; Not knowing.  It’s ok to not know.  The first step onto the path of wisdom is humility.  

“Better to be in The Mystery than in The Know.”

BRICK 2; Proper Alignment

Kripalu Yoga teachers are taught The Three Stages of Yoga.  Stage One is Proper Alignment:  Attention is on the physical sensations.  The Practice is body awareness.  Alignment principles are based on anatomical architecture and references.  Practice of stage one creates purification resulting in increased physical awareness.  This produces strength, flexibility and stamina.  The Witness Consciousness begins through physical inquiries.  “You do Yoga.”

BRICK 3; The Middle Path

The number three is a very important number in metaphysical and mystical inquiry.  We live in a three dimensional world, or so it seems.  The Middle Path is the third of three.  Kabbalah teaches the three column system of The Tree of Life Reality.  The Trinity – The Father, Son and The Holy Spirit.  Three is foundational. 

BRICK 4; The Yin and The Yang

The Duality.  Some great yogi once said….”Yoga is about creating union between body and mind and then go in search of the soul.”  Or something like that.  The number Two is even more foundational than the number three.  “It takes two to tangle.”  The sperm and the egg meet and create …..In the second stage in Kripalu yoga the practice is focused on increased mental and emotional awareness.  Alignment principles are based on prana/energy.  Attention is on thoughts, feelings, emotions and breath.  Practice of stage 2 strengthens the will, resulting in increased mental and emotional awareness.  The Witness consciousness develops through posture inquiry.  “You do yoga and yoga does you.”

BRICK 5; There Are Others?

I don’t know…….????

BRICK 6; The Precession

Have you ever heard someone say…”Time is an illusion?”  Or, “All we have is time.”  Is it an illusion or not?  Now that we have a foundational framework perhaps we can explore deeper.  I think this is where it starts to get fun!

BRICK 7: WHY?

I’ve always wanted to know Why.  I think why is the most important question.  I could be wrong.  Ya ever notice little children between like 3 and 13 are constantly responding with “Why?”  Just saying.

Brick 8; The No Move Move

Now, I think this is where it starts getting real interesting.  Once we start seeing a “bigger picture” then what the hell do we do now?

BRICK 9; Essence

The Buddha said the the highest level of wisdom is direct personal experience.  It’s not good enough to just think about something.  I went to Kripalu yoga teacher training because I wanted to deepen my understanding of yoga and connect with my authentic self; my essence. The month long intensive was an experience I will never forget.  I went to the 10 day Vipassana Meditation retreat because I was tricked to go.  The most difficult and yet the most profound 10 days of my life.  You have to get still and quiet to “feel” it.  

“Better a single day of life seeing the reality of arising and passing away than a hundred years of existence remaining blind to it.”  Buddha

Call Me Trim Tab

The practice in Stage 3 of Kripalu yoga results in increased ability to experience life without judgement and to be present in body, mind and spirit simultaneously.  This produces joy, power and wisdom.  There is an increased connection to “Source.”  Alignment principles come from natural intuition.  Attention is on expression, prana and bliss.  The Witness Consciousness surrenders to experiences of meditation-in-motion.  “Yoga does You.”

Perhaps, things are not as they seem?  

Namaste

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…..

THE GROWTH PROCESS:

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.

Creation story?

  There is a Kabbalistic Concept that is encompassed in the quote…”The seed of Desire is Fulfillment.” God; The Creator is ‘Fulfillment’; The Emanator. Our souls are the vessels of “Desire’; The Emanated. Prior to the world we currently find ourselves in, our souls were united in oneness in The Endless World (The Or En Sof). There was a direct connection between the Emanated and The Emanator. Time, as we know it, did not exist in this world. Cause and Effect was immediate. Every Desire that the vessel had or could imagine was fulfilled immediately. However, there was a “problem.” The vessels of desire began feel an uncomfortable feeling. They began to awaken to the realization that they were receiving without doing anything for it. It was like having a magic golf club that shot a hole in one every time you teed off. The vessels started wanting to be a part of their own fulfillment and opportunity to share instead of only receive. In order to satisfy this Desire the Creator needed to change up the “System of Things” a little bit. HE/SHE needed to create a new world that included space and time so that the vessels had an opportunity to experience the sense of earning their own fulfillment and a world that they could share with others. BOOM! The “BIG BANG! Instead of a 2 ‘column system’ we now exist in a 3 ‘column’ or 3 dimensional system where there is not a direct connection with The Creator. 

Injecting a Big Picture (Spiritual) element to the question might be a path of inquiry that may lead to an answer. Desire; Want is the nature and essence of the human soul. Total Fulfillment is the essence of The Creator. In our world there is a 3rd ‘column’. Kind of like the way electricity works in a simple light bulb. There is a source of the power (The power station, the positive pole, the yang). There is a receiver (The light bulb, the negative pole, the yin). But deep within the light bulb there is an essential third element; The filament. The role of the filament is to push back; to resist; to restrict. When the filament plays its role then the result is “Lasting Light.” If the filament is not engaged then there is a big spark of light and a short circuit; burnout. Our souls’ biggest desire is to get back to The Endless (The Garden) but, this time, with the awareness of Receiving, not for ourselves alone but, Receiving for the sake of bestowing. This 3rd column is called “The Middle Path” in the Buddhist/Zen environment. Ir is called Restriction by the Kabbalists. It is “The Secret” to seeking True Fulfillment. Namaste. Michael.

Support Group

I was at a support group meeting a few years back.  I was living in Boca Raton, Fl, at the time.  I was doing good.  On an upswing in life.  I had been attending this meeting every month for the last few years and had a “reputation” of someone to follow or learn from.  

A mother of a newly diagnosed 11 year old girl came to the the meeting.  You could see the desperation in her face.  Looking back, she was seeking validation that it was going to be ok.  When she “shared” she began talking about all the great things her daughter had done and how the diabetes had not slowed her down.  

Then I fucked up.  It was my turn to share and I needed to keep my reputation up and I was seeing the denial the mother was showing and I used a word that catapulted her from Denial to Anger.  I used the word disability.  I talked about how having T1D was a dis-ability.  I knew first hand.  I played hockey and soccer at a fairly high level throughout college.  At times, I was at a disadvantage.  Didn’t mean I couldn’t play. But….it was harder for me with diabetes than if not.

Having diabetes is a handicap.  OOOPS! I used another word that literally had her out of her seat.  I played on the golf team too.  Any of you who play golf know that everyone has a handicap.  

Ok.  I was now under full attack.  By the way, where was the daughter?  Why wasn’t she at the meeting?  Too young?  Over protected?  I don’t know…

Why I am writing about this?  It was a long time ago.  Well…..I’ve been on this Beyond Type 1 site for a few weeks posting a couple posts and reading the posts of others.  And I am awakening to the fact that it really doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, if you are struggling or you are unicorn whisperer, what matters most is finding a way to validate where you are at right now.  To make it ok because this is a long trek…

The mother didn’t want to be pushed that night to see the reality of her daughter’s dis-ease.  She wanted to be supported.  At the time I thought that enlightening her to the truth of the matter was support.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes you just need to be listened to and understood.  

For me, the reality is that this condition has been a real battle.  It has mostly got in my way and altered my perception of life.  I’m 57 years old and I didn’t plan on being here this long.  Now what?  Well…..If nothing else….today I would like to think that instead of triggering that mom with a reality that she did not need to address at the time…I would have validated her for being there and being an excellent “co-pilot” in her daughters “flight.”   

If it wasn’t for my mom I wouldn’t have made it this far………