Category Archives: diabetes coaching

Dealing with Diabetes Burnout..A Book Review

Ginger Vieira recently released her third book called Dealing with Diabetes Burnout,  How to Recharge and Get Back on Track When You Feel Frustrated and Overwhelmed by Diabetes. I was once again lucky enough to be given a copy of the book to read. As I prepared to write my overview of the book, I  took a glance at how many pages of interest I had marked off. A lot! That means that this was a wonderful book with many excellent points for me to share!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading this book.  What would I learn? Would much of it apply to me? Who would this book fit? Well, I learned quite a bit. I gained a new perspective and I can think of quite a few people who this book would help.  Most importantly however, it is a great hands on resource for people who live with diabetes–Type 1 or Type 2.

This book doesn’t just give you a bunch of information and feel good stories.  It is filled with exercises and activities that Ginger challenges you to do to help you deal with your own diabetes burnout.  She doesn’t chastise you for the fact that “I haven’t checked my blood sugar in three weeks (ehh…months)” –a fabulous title of one of the chapters of the book.  Instead she reminds you that you are being asked to manage something that your body is supposed to do on its own based on a variety of other physiological and hormonal processes. (page 21).  She tells  you to look at all of the great things that you are doing and praise yourself for the one thing you are getting right. “developing the ability to step back and see what wasn’t working–rather than blaming yourself–is the trick to creating a new plan that will lead you to your goal.” (Page 33)

This theme is further emphasized by all of the great chapter titles like “I want to be perfect by tomorrow (or I’m giving up!) where Ginger notes that some times are not ideal for change. She suggests that you create your own personalized “pick up plan” to help you refocus in times of stress.

Ginger offers tips on how to handle support from well-meaning people who really don’t get it as well as how to best make use of people who do get it and do want to help.  She shows you how to use technology to make your life a bit easier as well as great real life tips for those of us who would just like to live a healthier lifestyle but find ourselves giving up too soon.

Being a parent of a child with diabetes, as I began to read this book I felt horrible.  I was a failure.  I was the parent who struggled to understand how you could “forget” to do something that you have done all of your life.  Did I push too hard?  Should I have been calmer when his doctor praised him for testing more than once per day and I was looking to see 8-12 readings per day? I was sure that I had totally ruined my son’s childhood.

Thankfully I got some reprieve from my incredible guilt when I moved into the chapter called “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.  Here Ginger talks about raising a child with diabetes and how truly difficult it is to do. She highlights many of the fears that we have.  The torture we go through when our child is low and disoriented or the failure we feel when they are high and we are positive that we alone are responsible for the kidney damage they may one day have. She offers more wisdom and options to dealing with our children and how to get through to our teens. I was left knowing that I hadn’t scared my child completely…well at least not in that realm.

Nearing the end of the book, I came across one of the very best quotes I have ever read on the issue of diabetes care and one that should be framed and read by everyone dealing with this disease (especially us guilt laden parents)….
“Doing the best any of us can do in life with diabetes does not have to mean perfect blood sugars all the time. Sometimes our best is awesome and sometimes it’s not quite so awesome but it’s still our best in that moment.  And that’s okay.  It has to be, because “perfection” is a crazy expectation.”  

Dealing with Diabetes Burnout is a fabulous resource. If I had one criticism of the book it would be having too many personal stories illustrating various points in the book. Reading through page after page of examples of other people’s burnout was taxing on my incredibly shrinking attention span. That said however, I have no clue as to how I would have cut back on some of the submissions that were used.  They were often very powerful stories that needed to be shared.

Who should read this book? Anyone living with diabetes because as Ginger Vieira notes, at one point you will go through some form of burnout.  To a lesser degree, parents of children of diabetes (no matter what age your “child” may be).  This book will give you insight into the emotions that your child may be dealing with and will also give you a few tips to help you in your own life as well.
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Four Hours, Just Four Hours

Diabetes Blog WeekYesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day.  Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day.  Is there something positive you tell yourself?  Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through?  Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost?  Maybe we’ve done that and we can help others do it too? (Thanks to Meri of Our Diabetic Life for suggesting this topic.)

Is there a mantra that I fall back on to get me through a hard diabetes day? Absolutely! It is one that I share with newly diagnosed adults and parents who are struggling to get through. I remind them to look at life in four-hour blocks. If you take everything in four-hour strides and you can ride through anything.

When diabetes seems to be kicking your butt every morning, look at how things are going between lunch and supper. Are things okay? Give yourself a mental high-five and celebrate that victory rather than dwelling on the post-breakfast spike that this threatening to drive you over the edge.

Do overnights seem overwhelming? Again, break it down.  How are things from snack until 12 or 1am? What is life like in the deepest part of the night? Are things settled before breakfast or has chaos been awakened in those four hours? If you break it down into six four-hour periods, life becomes a bit more manageable and instead of seeing all of the bad, you can savor some of the good.

Why do I have a four-hour mantra? Because early on I learned that my son’s Humalog was supposed to last about 4 hours.  He was injected at 8am for breakfast, then at noon for lunch, around 5pm for supper and then again at 9pm for his nighttime snack.  I was going crazy trying to see a perfect 24 hour day. I realized that looking at a complete day was never going to make me happy. The only way to see success was to look at small chunks of time.  Coincidentally, that was also how we would make changes to his regimen.  Was his breakfast ratio of carbs to insulin off? How about at bedtime? Life was naturally being broken down into 4 hour chunks for me so why not work with that?

Now I know some of you will say, but we are using a pump so that won’t work for me.  Yes it will!  Chances are high that you are still doing things like having breakfast, lunch and supper.  You are probably still going to bed at one point as well. All of these events can be broken down and again my four-hour mantra applied.  Was I a successful pancreas this afternoon? Yes? AWESOME!! Let’s break out the happy dance!!! Did I have an issue after supper? Okay, let’s look at what can be done.

Life is less overwhelming in four-hour shots. It can be applied it outside of diabetes as well.  Are you wanting to change your eating habits? Did you have a great breakfast? Pat yourself on the back. Over did it at lunch? Do better tomorrow. Can you see how easily this works?

Life can be overwhelming.  As we discussed yesterday, life with diabetes can make it worse.  Taking life four hours at a time has allowed me to focus on what I need to change and to praise myself when I get it right…and we all need a lot more praise in our lives.
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Diabetes Coaching? What is it all about?

In the past few weeks, I have had quite a few people asking me about diabetes life coaching. What is it? What is involved? Can you help me to get my readings under control? Will you help me to fix my dosages?
 
Life Coaching is a process driven by you.  Just like a hockey coach will help to bring out your very best hockey game by offering you skills drills, a life coach will suggest tools and exercises to help you to get the very best out of your life.
 
As a coach, I cannot change your insulin dosages but I can encourage you to work with your CDE and even suggest some great people who are qualified to do this.  I can help you to work with your moods or those of a loved one. I can help you to find coping mechanisms that work for you and your family.
 
I cannot help you to figure out how to deal with exercise and your diabetes.  There are great coaches out there like Ginger Vieria who already do a fabulous job at that and are much better qualified than I am. Again, I can help you to get in touch with someone who can help you.
 
As a life coach, and a person who has lived with a child with diabetes for the past 14 years, I listen and will offer my own experience. I work with you to find ways to deal with the issues that you are facing each day.  A life coach helps you to examine your life as a whole and see how to work on the parts that are out of whack with how you would like things to be. I work to help you to adjust to this new life.
 
You decide what needs fixing.  Together we decide how best for you to fix it.  It is then my job to keep you accountable to do whatever we have decided will help to fix things for you.
 
I am not a counselor, although I may suggest that you see one.  I am not a CDE, although they may be what you require. I am a parent. I am a certified life coach. I do have a university degree in psychology.  I have been learning about diabetes daily for 14 years. I have overcome my own obstacles and continue to meet new challenges.  As a life coach, I pass along my experiences and help you to find your own way
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If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me and we will connect to see what is right for you to help you get your life back on a track that you can once again enjoy to the fullest.
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The cure for Diabetes-Overwhelmus

The other day the Diabetes Research Institute asked the question on their Twitter feed, who/what helps you get through the hurdles that you face when dealing with diabetes?  This question is very similar to the theme of the Diabetes Advocacy cover page on both Facebookand Google+–finding support amid the stress.
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When living with diabetes, we have all had those days.  The days when we don’t want to get out of bed. The days that we feel diabetes has won and we just cannot be bothered to fight any more.  The days when you just want to cry and cry and cry.  The days when you are certain that you just don’t have it in you any more. You are done.
 
If our child has diabetes, we may take over care for a day to let them just tune out for a short period of time.  When it happens and you are the parent or an adult, what do you do?
 
In my post on the three tips for parents of the newly diagnosed, I give one option to decompress…cry in the shower.  Let the water pour over you. Scream and let the tears flow.  No one will see your pain but you will be able to watch it flow out of you and hopefully will feel stronger and more refreshed when you emerge.
 
It is also important to have outside support networks though.  Support groups–online or in real life can offer a huge relief.  They are made up of people who understand your world. They live there and have experienced many of the same feelings that you have.  From these groups, we often find a few people that we “click” with and those individuals often become an even stronger source of support for us.
 
I was once warned that spending too much time with these people who get it could lead me into depression. It was not a good thing, this person told me, for people to sit around discussing the burdens in their life. I told this person how wrong he was.  I had a wonderful group of women that I connected with out of a support group.  We enjoyed regular “therapy” sessions that included dinner, drinks, and talk about diabetes, children, and our lives. Sitting with people who understood 3am lows and carb counting errors at school was exceptionally therapeutic.  We shared stories of life…and our lives happened to also include diabetes.  The connection was a true gift.
 
I have also been lucky to find this same connection through the internet.  Years ago…about 13 years ago to be precise, I stumbled across something called the Children with DiabetesParents Mailing list. My first email to this list asked how to get my son to eat. He was 3 years old by this time and I had been fighting alone for almost a year.  I was at my wit’s end. With that one email came friendships that have grown and lasted to this day.  I “met” people who had been where I was and could offer guidance on how to make it through. The best part for me is that they did not always coddle me.  They did not always say, “Poor Barb”. Occasionally they said, “Now that you are done whining, pick yourself up and get back to it! Living under a rock is not allowed.  You have to join us but we will be here to lean on while you move forward.”  Sometimes a well-meaning kick can be the best therapy.
 
Today, the Diabetes Online Community has grown to reach Facebook, Twitter and many other social media outlets.  Diabetes conferences and annual get-togethers are more common and eagerly anticipated by everyone involved.
 
Over the years diabetes has brought me many amazing friends and acquaintances but first I had to let them in. I had to ask for help…and when I did I was given the greatest gift of all. I was given a family that I never knew I had. A family that was united by tragedy but grew from understanding.
 
If you are struggling to deal with a diabetes diagnosis of yourself or your loved one, ask for help! Find local support groups through your hospital or local diabetes organization. Go online and search out the DOC on Facebook or Twitter.  Follow blogs like this one, share and engage yourself.  There are also many great diabetes coaches available to help you.  There are coaches and nurses online that will help with diet, exercise and making readings a bit more understood.  There are also people like me who will help you to wade through the day-to-day and find your footing with the emotional aspects of the disease.  The first step is to ask for help–seek answers and support from friends, family, and outside networks.  It truly is the cure for Diabetes-overwhelm-us.