We are all in this boat together

It’s still Diabetes blog week and I’m a bit late today with my submission. That’s what happens when you fly thousands of miles and have to do everything on your to-do list first before you can write!

Now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and how do you cope?  

I often wonder what life would have been like if I hadn’t been on the slow boat to diabetes. I mean what if it had never happened? Would I have ended up visiting a naturopath at 18? Would I have started yoga? I guess I’ll never know.

So many of the choices I made as a young adult were based on the fact that I never really felt healthy. There was always something wrong with my digestion or with my energy levels. Looking back I know it was all to do with the fact that my onset of type 1 was super slow.

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As a young adult, I was racked with anxiety, shame, and guilt and there was often a feeling in and around the area of my spleen that felt like I was being sucked into a vortex.

I’m convinced that every health issue was related to the demise of a beta cell. The weird emotional feelings were probably also related. As a young person, I didn’t really know what to make of it. As an adult thankfully I do.

I’ve never really been a depressive type but since diabetes, that’s changed. It’s not that I get so depressed that I can’t get out of bed, it’s just that the whole thing gets so overwhelming sometimes that I feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. The worst part is I keep those crappy feelings to myself.

I know it would do me good to talk it out but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered. Being a yoga teacher and having a reputation has some stigma attached to it. We are the ones others look to for inspiration. We are supposed to rise above it all. Well, surprise, surprise… trying to hold myself to some sort of standard doesn’t work at all!

Diabetes is by far the single most challenging thing I have ever had to deal with and I can do yoga till the cows come home and still feel pissed off, moody, angry and down about it.

So how do I climb out of my own hole when the going gets rough?

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By cutting myself some slack. By taking it one day at a time, one step at a time, one insulin dose at a time.

And writing. Writing it out is like talking it out, only better. When I write I don’t care about the reader.  I write for myself. As I write I can see what it is I actually think and feel. Once it’s out there I can decide if it’s true for me or not. Words are a beautiful mirror in which one can objectively reflect.  What that axiom? The mirror never lies.

Another thing I love about self-expression through the written word is that it connects me with other writers. In the Diabetes space, we are all passengers on the same boat. We may have different cabins and have brought our own belongings but we share the same trajectory. I love meeting with my fellow passengers on deck. This week has been especially healing for me. Reading everyone’s blogs, and commenting and receiving comments has helped to heal the wounds of diagnosis and beyond.

When it comes down to it we all face this disease in our own unique way. But knowing I’m not alone, that there is a thriving community has made all the difference.

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If you’d like to find out more about how yoga can help you manage your diabetes each and every day check out the rest of my blog and if you’d like to get the first chapter of my book for free go here

With great respect…Rachel

The worst visit ever

I’m sitting here in the airport in Johannesburg after 10 hours of non-stop flying. With a couple of hours before my next flight, I have time to share my 3rd post for Diabetes Blog Week 

Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another.  And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault.  Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgment from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger.  Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had.  Now, the game part.  Let’s turn this around.  If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself?   Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us!

My GP had always been a cool guy. Into alternative things, he swam with dolphins, played the didgeridoo and always recommended herbs before meds. I’d been seeing him on and off since my son was born and we had a nice friendship outside of the doctor’s office.

The day of my diagnosis was just like any other day.  I’d been feeling fatigued, dizzy when I ate sweet things and my ex-husband had suggested we both get some blood tests. He’d gone to see the doctor first and was told that he had high blood pressure, but the news about me was way worse. The doctor wanted to see me straight away. “What do you think it could be?” I asked him. “Well I know it’s not Cancer but it is something to do with your blood.”

Sitting in the waiting room that day I was jittery. It seemed odd that I was that unwell. I’d always managed everything holistically with my health, hence seeing that sort of doctor.

As soon as I entered his office he told me to sit down. He swiveled back on forth on his chair and tapped his pencil on my blood test result form. I don’t know how to tell you this…but the news isn’t good.

And then he just blurted it out. You have diabetes!

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I can’t begin to tell you how I felt, my heart rate went through the roof, the bottom dropped out of my world. Diabetes is everywhere in my family, especially on my mother’s side. In fact, my great grandfather died from diabetes ( he was diagnosed before there was Insulin) Ironically, My birth date is the date he died.

It was hard to keep track of what the doctor said next. He told me that he had seen that my blood sugar levels were elevated so he checked my A1c. Sure enough, that was elevated too. “It’s a long journey to reverse this, you’ll have to find your own cure. I’m not quite sure how you got this…”

Next, he’s started telling me that I had to change my diet and exercise more while shoving pamphlets in direction. Then as a parting gift, he told me to Google diabetes.

As I drove home I just couldn’t believe what he was saying. It couldn’t be diabetes.

I think things could have gone really differently that day and if they had I might not have gone on to deny my diagnosis. It took almost 6 years to have actual diabetes symptoms so it was easy to shove his diagnosis under the rug.

If he had sat me down and explained to me that the beta cells in my pancreas were attacking themselves and that it couldn’t possibly be my fault. If he had asked me if there had been some really stressful event that may have triggered the onset.  If he’d told me that there were resources and tools to help me manage this and a worldwide community for support. That I could live a full happy healthy life. That there were people just like me that I could connect with, who could mentor me through the little things. Even just a few words of support and encouragement could have made all the difference.

Luckily in spite of that god awful doctor,  I survived!  In a way, diabetes has grown on me. I no longer blame myself for getting sick.

After nine years of living with diabetes, a lot of yoga and study of traditional yoga teachings, I’ve realized that there is no ‘ rhyme or reason’  for anything. Rather the whole of life, whatever happens, whether we call it good or bad… is a reminder to enjoy everything exactly as it is.

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If you’d like to find out more about how yoga can help you manage your diabetes each and every day check out the rest of my blog and if you’d like to get the first chapter of my book for free go here

With great respect…Rachel

What can I do to make a difference

Today is Day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week and already it’s been amazing to read and share with our thriving #DOC. I feel completely inspired and in awe of the writing talent out there and if you are reading this, you guys are my diabetes heroes! Even though I was diagnosed 9 years ago I still feel like the new kid on the block when it comes to managing this disease. After yesterday’s topic,  I feel armed with a whole new arsenal of tools to manage my diabetes. Thank you!

Here’s today’s prompt…

 So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care.  Do you have advice to share?  For those outside the US, is cost a concern?  Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?

I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. I was born in Holland, grew up in the U.S and moved to Australia when I was 18. I can still remember the day I received my medicare card and my shock at how anything related to doctors and medical tests was free. While my siblings and parents complained about the costs of doctors and insurance in the States and worried about my health care, I told them not to worry. Australia isn’t called the lucky country for nothing.

That was when I was 18… things are definitely more costly now, but as my friend, Frank from Type 1 writes  just shared on his blog,

” If I have to have diabetes, then there’s no place I’d rather have it than in Australia.”

Living in Australia with Diabetes has been affordable and it’s one of the reasons I feel grateful to call it my home. But I do live and travel often to other countries and have come to realize that Insulin, test strips, needles and diabetes devices aren’t always on tap and don’t come gift-wrapped.

Recently I’ve been living in South Africa. It’s a land of contradictions with a huge disparity between the people who have and the people who have not. I’m basically a tourist here so not really part of the medical system but recently the harsh reality of what it’s like for the people here hit home.

A friend came for a visit and with her was Abongile.  Somehow it came up in conversation that I had type 1 diabetes. Abongile just happened to be a dietician in a clinic in Johannesburg for about 30 kids with type 1 diabetes. I was showing her my freestyle libre flash glucose monitor and how it worked. She was astonished. The kids she cares for and their parents can’t even afford the insulin they need to survive. Not only that, because there is no awareness of type 1 in the school system, the kids can’t take the risk of being on more than two shots a day. Apparently, hypos are a no go because the teachers don’t have the skills to respond appropriately. So all the kids in the clinic are on mixed insulin and do something called ‘carb blocking.’ They are allowed a certain number of carbs per day, based on the types of foods they eat. A packet of sweets is one block, a bag of potato chips another.

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As a nutritionist, Abongile works hard to educate parents about the types of foods that are good to help the kids manage their levels. But some parents can’t even afford healthy fruits and vegetables. When I asked her if there was any money from the government to help the kids she laughed and shook her head. The one thing they have been able to achieve is to give each child a glucometer.

After speaking with Abongile I was completely floored and felt ashamed. How could I even consider complaining about the fact that the freestyle libre was $90 out of pocket, or that my favourite brand of test strips was on back order, or that I have to pay very little for a years supply of Insulin when these kids don’t even get to take the Insulin they need.

It immediately made me want to help. Before Abongile left I made sure I had her contact details I told her about an organization called Type 1 International which helps people get access to Insulin and medical supplies. I wrote a letter to one of the founders about the clinic and my meeting with Abongile. It felt good to put them in contact with each other and that somehow I could make a difference.

Abongile wrote back to me a few days later…

“Thank you very much for your quick connection with the T1 international on my hospital’s behalf. I am very grateful for your keeping to your word as well :). I will keep you updated with any/all positive developments for the clinic from the T1 foundation. “

Something I learned from my exchange with Abongile was that whatever we can do to help others have access to Insulin and diabetes-related supplies we must do. Whether it’s helping someone with less access, lobbying our governments, writing about it or networking to spread awareness.

Even the smallest action helps.

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If you’d like to find out more about how yoga can help you manage your diabetes each and every day check out the rest of my blog and if you’d like to get the first chapter of my book for free go here

With great respect…Rachel

The wonder and magic of a life with diabetes

Woohoo! It’s here! Diabetes Blog Week!

For the next 5 days I’ll be writing on a specific topic along with other diabetes bloggers, sharing how I navigate the world of diabetes. Below is the first topic and my corresponding thoughts.

Tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your life that you never could have expected?

The nervous system is a delicate thing, tiny fibers that crisscross the body and send signals from your brain to different key areas, telling it to move, breath, digest, feel etc. For some reason nine years ago, mine started to go haywire. Being a long time yogi I consulted my yoga books to see what the problem might be. After months of research, I reached my conclusion.

I was in the middle of a spiritual crisis.

Thinking that I was on the fast track to enlightenment wasn’t necessarily the best approach. For starters, it kept me from questioning my physical symptoms or seeking medical answers. If I had known that diabetes isn’t something you get from poor diet and lifestyle, or that it doesn’t just affect children, I would have dug deeper.

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Back then there wasn’t much awareness about the signs and symptoms of diabetes.  Even now when I tell people I have Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults ( LADA) they scratch their heads and look at me funny.

Finding out that there was a reason for the strange jittery sensations, erratic digestion, food sensitivities, a constant sugary taste on my tongue and the feelings of exhaustion was a total relief. It’s not that I was happy to have diabetes, it’s just that my search for answers caused so much internal havoc, that having an actual diagnosis released the pressure valve.

I cried a lot those first few weeks after diagnosis. It felt so good to let go.

It’s been quite a journey since then and aside from those initial feelings of relief, I spent years trying everything I could to conquer the beast. What I’ve learned though is that you can’t ‘conquer’ diabetes. It’s not a country you can invade and call home.

Am I the proud owner of a life with diabetes? hmmm….it’s hard to put that answer into words…

What I can say is that diabetes has changed me for the better. It’s made me raw, honest and put my feet on the ground.  It’s also motivated me to open up and share through my writing more about what it means to live with chronic illness and spread awareness about the disease.

Diabetes has also inspired me to be deeply grateful. I used to take life for granted. I’d wake up every morning, dive into the day and never stop and think. Wow! I’m alive.

Now, I make a concerted effort to stop, look around me, drink in the beauty of this life and remember…

Life is precious. It’s not a given.

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If you’d like to find out more about how yoga can help you manage your diabetes each and every day check out the rest of my blog and if you’d like to get the first chapter of my book for free go here

With great respect…Rachel

My secret weapon

It’s Tips and Tricks Friday for Diabetes Blog Week and today on the blog I can’t help sharing a little bit about why yoga is my secret weapon. I also want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for your posts, comments and blogs these past five days and thank you to Karen for initiating this profound project. I can’t wait till next year!

Let’s round out the week by sharing our best diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. From how you organize supplies to how you manage gear on the go/vacation (beach, or skiing, or whatever). From how you keep track of prescription numbers to how you remember to get your orders refilled. How about any “unconventional” diabetes practices, or ways to make diabetes work for YOU (not necessarily how the doctors say to do it!). There’s always something we can learn from each other. (Remember though, please no medical advice or dangerous suggestions.)

I’m someone who is super disciplined and diligent. I actually can’t imagine what it would be like to forget to take my shot, or leave the house without my meter or skip a meal. One thing I insist upon is having my meals at regular intervals and limiting snacks. Most people roll their eyes when I say this and think I’m weird. Or they feel sorry for me. Whatever people think, that’s their business. One thing that helps me manage my diabetes is finding ways to stay in control. Rather than judge myself or see it as a negative I feel it serves me immensely.

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The other trick that keeps me thriving is

Yoga

I use the physical postures to get the muscles to uptake glucose and increase my circulation, and to increase my level of fitness. I use the breathing practices to stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory system as well as increasing the efficiency of respiration and I use meditation and mantra (sound healing) and yantra (visualization) to calm my mind and relax my nervous system. With all these elements in play I have a sense of fulfilment and ease which makes it easy to be disciplined. In fact, I love it!

And I see my body as a laboratory. Noticing how the body reacts to foods, environment and stress. When the body reacts, I react and so do my BG levels. I can determine by observing my breath in a posture or how my mind is racing when I’m meditating that something isn’t quite right. I use the yoga practice like medication, perhaps changing to a more soothing practice, or spending longer on a breath practice to try and balance out the increased stress on the system. Not everyone has the mind set or will power to do this. But for someone like me whose done Yoga since forever, it works.

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I think the biggest thing that yoga has given me is perspective. When things get tough with diabetes, I have to step back, breathe through it and do my best. That’s all I can do especially when nothing seems to work. That and to understand that practice makes perfect. When I first started on MDI’s I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking I’d do it wrong. But soon I learned that following a specific series of steps would help me to stay calm and remember what to do next. That’s what’s always helped me practice and teach yoga too. The power of routine. It’s the one thing I have always relied on and it’s the one consistent piece of advice I offer my students. Find a routine, stick with it and everything else will fall into place.

With great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

It’s not my fault

Todays blog doesn’t go into the nitty gritty of gripes or issues I have with my health care team rather I wanted to celebrate what’s working and how my team has helped me heal and thrive. Here’s my Diabetes Blog Week story for Health Care Thursday

Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!

When I was first diagnosed I was shocked. I’d been doing Yoga since I was 17, it was my career and I’d always been health conscious. So at first, because I thought there was some mistake. I didn’t bother to find out more about my condition. In effect shutting out my medical support team. I’m loathe to admit it but that moment of disbelief, defiance and downright denial took me down a path I do regret.

After 6 years of criss-crossing continents to find alternatives, I landed back in my doctor’s office literally begging him to put me on insulin. The first step, he said, was to get educated and that I’d have to see a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator). I was excited to start my journey but totally freaked at the same time.  Would she grill me about my diet, my inability to maintain my levels or demand discipline without room for error?

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I had worked my self up into such a frenzy that by the time I was sitting in the CDE’s office actually having my appointment, I was balling my eyes out like a little kid. She asked if I knew why I was so upset. I admitted that I felt like a failure, that I didn’t know why I was there or even why I had diabetes. It all felt so wrong. She sat quietly and listened as the pain and anxiety poured out.

What she said next floored me.

“Rachel, you’ve done nothing wrong to get this and it’s not your fault.”

My jaw dropped. After nearly 6 years of being absolutely sure of a million reasons why I had diabetes, like eating too many lollies as a kid, or smoking way too many unfiltered cigarettes between the ages of 11 and 21. Or just being an untogether person in general. To actually consider it wasn’t my fault felt like putting on a rubber suit, in the middle of the desert in summer.  I was used to taking the blame for just about everything. It was always my fault!

She mentioned that usually type 1 diabetes is triggered during a stressful event. Did I recall any such event?

My whole life clicked into place in that instant. I’d been living in New York City during 9/11. I’d walked into the ash that was screaming up the avenues as the towers collapsed.

I never felt well after that day. Not emotionally or physically. I became more sensitive to foods, surroundings and I developed multiple chemical syndrome. My marriage suffered due to the fact that everything had to fit around me and my specific health needs. In the end we moved home to Australia in the hopes that a less polluted and more holistic environment would support me towards wellness. We never thought it could be something as serious as diabetes because none of the symptoms were there.

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Being able to share my story with the diabetes educator and to feel her total compassion and understanding made a huge difference in coming to terms with my diagnosis. Up until that point and even with my doctor I’d been battling to accept it. Understanding that something had triggered it and that it wasn’t my fault allowed me to be compassionate with myself.

It’s been nearly two years since I came out of denial and began insulin. Since then rather than seeing the medical establishment as something to shun or fear I have huge respect and admiration for the people that are supporting me on this journey. I know the system, isn’t perfect and doctors, nurses and even CDE’s could do better.  I get angry that insurance companies in Australia don’t cover CGM’s or that the government keeps changing how we access our supplies.

But in spite of all that there are real people out there who have studied their butts off to help people like me and I couldn’t be more grateful!

with great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Real honest to goodness truth

It’s hump day and I am full to the brim, feeling like there’s so much more to share in the DOC then I could ever imagine. Today is Diabetes Blog Week Wednesday and the theme is language and the words we use.


There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

I’ll never forget my moment of diagnosis. It was one of the first times I can honestly say I felt abused. Rather than being gently informed that it looked like there were some irregularities in my fasting blood sugar readings my GP literally shouted, “You have diabetes! And it will take years to figure out how to fix it.”  But It wasn’t just the words he used, it was his attitude. He shoved some pamphlets my way and told me to Google diabetes.

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photo credit: ASweetlife.org

I drove home dazed and confused. I mean what the heck was I supposed to do now?  Between feeling absolutely devastated and completely horrified I also wanted to strangle the guy. Luckily his office was a good 40 minutes’ drive from my house.

It took years for me to admit I had diabetes and to think about how to label my condition. When someone asked about my meter and why I wasn’t eating dessert or so strict with my diet I’d kind of shrug it off and say I was dealing with blood sugar issues. I didn’t hide what was going on but I didn’t come right out and say it either. As I treaded the boards searching for answers from alternative health practitioners to endocrinologists not one person said, “diabetes.” They used euphemisms like blood sugar swings, or autoimmune condition, chronic fatigue, candida overgrowth, low insulin production.  I found so many ways not to have diabetes it wasn’t even funny.

Deep down I knew the truth. I was the one looking at my meter, watching how food affected my levels. I saw what exercise did and how hard it was to get that perfect number. I can remember my little brother mumbling, “why don’t you just go on insulin?” as he watched me make a spinach omelet for the umpteenth time. “It’s complicated okay!”

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I think everyone has a breaking point. When you know that climbing up the hill is going to be harder than just collapsing at the bottom. I was sitting in the neurologist’s office after having the nerves in my hands and feet tested. If you’ve ever thinking of doing that, it’s really not fun! They wire you up and pulse your nerves with tiny volts of electricity and you literally jump out of your skin. Anyway…back in the doc’s office he enquired as to my health. “You have diabetes right?”  “Well we aren’t sure” “What’s your A1c?” “I think it’s a little high” “How high?” “10.7” “That’s Diabetes. You have Diabetes! And if you don’t get that level down you’ll do permanent damage to the nerves in your hands and feet.” It couldn’t have been more real than that.

Real honest to goodness TRUTH. Needless to say the words finally hit home.

Recently I wrote to a prominent Australian diabetes organization about my new book. “It’s a book written by a diabetic for diabetics on how yoga can help you manage your diabetes.” The reply in my inbox made me feel embarrassed. Like when you’re a kid and somebody scolds you but you don’t really know what you’ve done wrong. “We don’t use that word “diabetic” anymore because it’s impolite. We say a person lives with diabetes.

Her reply made me see that I’m still assimilating what it means to live with diabetes. It doesn’t really matter what words I use to describe my condition, what matters is how I see myself, what my hopes and dreams are and how I can live gracefully no matter what lies ahead.

with great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

 

 

All I really want to do is eat chocolate pizza!


Welcome to day two of Diabetes Blog Week. Already its been an intense smorgasboard of words and images to take in. I am absolutely loving this years posts and it’s only Tuesday. Huge thank you to Karen from Bitter Sweet Diabetes for making this happen. Todays theme is The other half of diabetes- Tuesday

We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?

Oh my god I love diabetes- said no one EVER! But I can live with it. Why? Because I’ve worked for years to refine my attitude towards adversity. When I was a kid I was super competitive. If someone said I couldn’t do something I was determined to prove them wrong. Simple dares, like I bet you can’t climb to the top of that tree to complex ultimatums like; if you quit college you’ll never be a success were treated with equal merit. I made sure I climbed that tree, quit college and lived a successful happy life.

Living with a type A personality however is a double edged sword. I obsess about the numbers on my meter as much as I try and perfect my to-do list. I sweat over my doctors visit espousing to be the perfect Zen yogi when all I really want to do is eat chocolate pizza and give up!

I actually think my frustration helps me cope. Allowing myself to cry, be angry and feel hopeless gives me a break from the part of me that strives for perfection. In fact, every now and then I let myself be a disaster area. Test strips all over the floor, a handful of almonds (yep that’s my comfort food) and binge watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.’

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But besides slacking off I do see yoga and yoga practices as a lifeline. Having solid tools to calm my mind and nervous system makes a huge difference to my mental emotional state. Especially when I am dealing with a week of frustratingly high blood sugars or panicking over lows.

Coming back to my breath, slowing down and gaining perspective through quiet reflection are just some of the ways I cope. I also look to my partner for support and advice. He doesn’t have diabetes but he has incredible wisdom and knowledge and is always reminding me that even though the body has a disease, I can never be the disease and that my thoughts about the disease are much more trouble than the diabetes itself.

Learning to manage my thoughts, seeing them for what they are and knowing myself as that presence in whom all thoughts come and go creates a space for me to accept what’s happening. It’s not always easy but it helps.

And then there’s my absolute favourite tool for changing my attitude. The breath!

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 Try this simple technique to let go of stressful thoughts, worries and negativity

You can do this sitting in a chair, lying down or simply standing in line at the post office. Breathing in for an even count imagine you are breathing in love, joy, peace and calm Doubling the length of your exhalation breath out stress, negativity, fear or whatever it is that you want to let go of. Keep going until you find you’re hardly breathing and totally relaxed.

That’s it!

With great respect… Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

Writing is my way of reaching out

I’m so excited it’s Diabetes Blog Week and every day for the next five days I’ll be blogging  to a specific topic along with a host of others. Check out whose blogging this week and join in the fun. Here’s our first topic for Message Monday

Let’s kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog? 

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I was a teenager the first time I met someone with diabetes.  I can still remember the medical ID on her wrist and her passion for sugar free sweets. She was a little plump and always cheerful and I never imagined how difficult it must have been for her. When I was diagnosed nearly 30 years later I tried to find her. An impossible task. I wanted to tell her that I’d never understood how hard it must have been…I wanted her to know I was just like her.

Writing is my way of reaching out, and a vehicle for me to put into words how it feels to live with diabetes. I don’t remember my friend ever mentioning how she felt about her condition. In those days a person with diabetes lived in isolation. I lived like that for the first 6 years after my diagnosis too. Pretending, hoping and convincing myself and others I wasn’t really sick. Easy to do when I didn’t bother to inform myself.

Struggling to accept my diagnosis I felt ashamed, lonely and guilty. I kept wondering what I could have done differently. I searched the internet and the globe for a cure or some way to reverse what I thought I had. Back when I was diagnosed I didn’t know anyone in the yoga community who had diabetes. I remember asking a fellow yoga teacher if they’d ever had someone with diabetes in their class, “ Hmm…don’t know , maybe…but no-one ever mentioned it, if they did.”

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I came out of diabetes denial when it became impossible to ignore that I wasn’t going to get better. With an A1c of 10.7, mild neuropathy and a million visits to the toilet it was pretty obvious that I had to get my blood sugar under control.  The first step was to admit I had a problem.

A long post to our yoga teacher facebook group about my decision to start long acting insulin was met with nothing but love and support. Reading everyone’s comments I couldn’t help crying. It just felt so good to know that I wasn’t alone! Everyone struggles with something in their lives. And it doesn’t have to be a chronic illness.

Now that I am an avid online diabetes advocate the one message that keeps hitting home is that this disease doesn’t work in isolation. By telling our stories, sharing how we manage, voicing our hopes and dreams and demonstrating how we live beyond, we not only come to terms with our diagnosis, we heal.

I always thought that healing meant I’d never have to deal with diabetes again. That I’d be able to say I used to have diabetes…now I know better. Living beyond is all about accepting what is and thriving anyway. My disease might be invisible to others, I might have to micromanage every minute but still, I am happy, healthy and live a fulfilled and complete life.
With great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

Diabetes Blog week Day 7 Rachel Zinman Yoga for diabetes blog

Continuing Connections

It’s been a big week!  I’ve taught Yoga in Italy and Switzerland and managed to keep up my commitment to blog for Diabetes Blog Week for 7 days.  A first for me as I lead such an active life that it’s hard to commit to doing something, other then my work, consistently and to a topic. So first, a big THANK YOU to Karen Graffeo for spearheading this truly uplifting project.

I have read as many blogs as I could and have learned a lot. The main thing has been to realise that I’m not alone in all this. This was truly brought home last night when during my nightly injection half the insulin didn’t seem to go in. I’d read about it in my LADA support group but didn’t actually understand what it meant until it happened to me. I was completely freaked out when I pulled out the needle and the Insulin squirted all over the bathroom counter. I immediately went online and asked for advice and within minutes people responded. I went to sleep feeling relaxed and reassured.  I reckon the diabetes online community is full of super heroes!

There are two bloggers whom I really connected with this week one was Frank from Type 1 writes . His honest story telling is real and meaningful. I also fell in love with Coffee and Insulin’s writing style and her ability to take us on a journey to different countries while making us laugh! Both these blogs had so many great posts during the week I can’t share just one.

Diabetes Blog week Day 7 Thank you

I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my blog and for commenting and will continue to share my journey with Yoga and Diabetes and to stay on track with regular blogging.

It’s early Sunday morning here in Italy and the last day of our yoga immersion so I better get off the computer and prepare my food for the day…I think I’ll make….Bliss balls just for a change!

With great respect… Rachel