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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Motivation, Likes and Dislikes

On all the various forums I read there is a recurring theme from newly diagnosed people of grief over a lost lifestyle. And not just from newly diagnosed people.

How many times do we read "I hate testing" or "I can't exercise" or "I don't like vegetables" or "I don't eat breakfast" or "I couldn't give up my [insert your favourite treat]" or "I only ever eat one big meal a day" or "I don't like cooking" or "I haven't got time to cook/exercise/whatever" or just "I don't like...".

Motivation is a strange thing. The carrot and the stick. Some of us say we do best on the positive; others find the negative more effective. In reality it's a mix of both. Many of us have found that the improvement in our overall health once we took control of our diabetes was quite dramatic and we promote that as a positive. It is. But let's be honest, how many of us used that as the motivator when we started?

"Hey! I've just been diagnosed with diabetes! Ain't it great! Now I can get fit!" Yeah, right. That wasn't me.

If we're honest, the real motivator for me, and I suspect for most of you, was fear. We each have our own phobias, but diabetes gives us such a wide range of choices that there is something there for all.

Stop here if you don't like nasty reminders.

Consider why you are reading about diabetes. The experienced people on all forums try to mainly be up-beat and supportive, but support can sometimes mean that a jolt of reality is appropriate.

Just a few for starters:
o Death from many possibilities, the most likely being heart attack.
o Blindness, usually from retinopathy.
o Neuropathy, including associated wound healing problems and possible gangrene and salami surgery or amputation.
o Nephropathy, kidney disease, dialysis.

Positive motivation is great. But the reality is that if we don't take control of our own diabetes management the negatives can creep up on us all too quickly. My personal negative motivator is blindness; as a leukemiac death no longer scares me; I think I can live with amputation, and from what I've read dialysis is not an enjoyable long-term lifestyle.

But I love reading, I love seeing the beauty and grandeur of nature, I enjoy watching TV, I love watching my grand-daughter grow and I enjoy writing so blindness scares the shit out of me.

It took me a while to accept that my past lifestyle likes and dislikes were no longer relevant. I had to discover new likes and dislikes, because I am in this for the long haul.

It's amazing what you can learn to like once you realise that your life, and the quality of that life, depends on it.

1 comment:

Karen S. said...

I was diagnosed almost a year ago and I am now actually grateful for the diagnosis. Is it inconvenient sometimes when I am traveling, the plane is late, there's nothing healthy to eat in the airport and I don't have snacks because this is third flight of the day thats been late and I already ate my snacks? Yup. it sucks.

BUT, since last April, I have lost well over 60 pounds, feel better than I have in years and am actually motivated by the numbers on my meter to exercise almost every day. The alternative (i.e. blindness, amputation, etc) are just not acceptable alternatives for me either.