One of my favorite jokes is, “Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” It reminds me of having diabetes. It’s like after telling someone you have diabetes and hearing them say, “Huh. But, aside from that, how’s your health?”
To which I would say, “Great!” And I can say it is great because I know for a fact it is great. I know this because, as a direct result of my diabetes, I’m healthier than I might otherwise be without it.
Sounds strange, I know, and I’m not being Pollyannaish about this. Here are five real-world ways diabetes has made me healthier:
#5 – I see doctors. Because of diabetes I visit doctors regularly and, together they and I, closely monitor my health on an ongoing basis. Not a lot of people do this, even if they can. I’ve been doing this for years and will continue to do so because my diabetes needs close monitoring and adjusting, and that means my overall health gets monitored and cared for.
#4 – I eat well. While I don’t hang out at the local health food store, I do eat relatively well, and I don’t overeat. I do this not only because it makes me feel better to eat real food rather than McDonald’s, but also because doing so messes with my blood sugar for hours and, frankly, that makes me feel like crap. Also, I don’t overeat because as a kid growing up with diabetes I had to eat at certain times. Eating became drudgery and now that I’m grown up and emancipated from childhood, I look for any excuse to not eat.
#3 – I exercise. I exercise for a variety of reasons. It chills me out. It pulls the wrinkles out the day. It makes me feel better mentally and physically. But, I do it regularly because my blood sugar goes haywire when I sit around on the couch being lazy. If I have a choice between running three miles or dealing with bouncing blood sugars, you’ll find me out of the road every time.
#2 – I’m informed. I’m astute about health and health issues. As a diabetic I’m tuned into health research, trends, and other factors that affect my health, as well as the health of society at large. I don’t trust just anyone to tell me what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to health. I need to know it’s been tested and comes from a trusted source. I am a very informed consumer of health products and very knowledgeable about health claims. If I have doubts or questions, then I can always talk to one of the doctors I have a years-long relationship with already.
#1 – I’m in touch. I’m more in touch with my body than I would be if I didn’t have diabetes. A doctor told me years ago that diabetes is the great do-it-yourself disease. He told me that with this condition it was up to me to know when to adjust my medication, my food, my exercise, and my life to preserve my health. I listen to my body all the time. Do I need to test my blood? Do I need insulin? Do I just need a nap? Is my sugar going high or low? How do I feel before I run? My body provides me with hundreds of points of input every day and by listening to them I am healthier than I would be by turning a deaf ear to them.