This month’s “TED* Thoughts” theme is on health and health empowerment. We chose this to coincide with next week’s American Diabetes Association’s “Diabetes Alert Day” (March 27th) and as a time to announce the pending publication of TED* for Diabetes: A Health Empowerment Story, which I am co-authoring with Scott Conard, M.D. The book will be available sometime in late spring (so stay tuned!).
The new book – like The Power of TED* – is a fictional account of one person’s challenges which, in this case, is that of receiving the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. While the book deals with diabetes as the presenting disease, anyone with a life-threatening or lifestyle-altering chronic ailment will benefit from applying TED’s ways of thinking, relating, and taking action in response to health challenges.
The story in TED* for Diabetes parallels my own journey and relationship with type 2 diabetes, which officially began over 5 years ago. How that relationship evolved and where it is currently will be the topic of next week’s blog. This week I want to start at the beginning with the reaction I experienced, which is so typical for anyone being told that they have a chronic disease.
I was shocked. “How could this happen to me!?” I pleaded. (Of course I had ignored for a long time a number of family physicians advising me to lose weight, eat healthy and exercise more.)
Immediately I found myself deep in the mire of the Victim Orientation. Diabetes loomed as a diabolical problem which engaged high anxiety for the quality of my life. The fear about the state of my health caused me to then react, over time, in all its basic forms: fight (“I am going to lick this”), flight (“maybe they made a mistake and it will just go away”) and freeze (“this can’t be real” and “I really don’t know what to do”).
The Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ was the basic frame within which I related to the diagnosis. I was the Victim to diabetes as my Persecutor. I wanted my doctor to be my Rescuer and to just make it go away. Eventually (after my initial “fighting” the diabetes), I agreed to take oral medication in the hopes that it would become another Rescuer.
Characteristic of the Rescuer role in the DDT, the medication did act as a “reliever” and, along with a modest shift in diet and exercise; I was able to manage my diabetes with the blood sugar targets my medical team set for me.
But I was merely riding the rollercoaster so many with diabetes ride. I would be diligent for some time; my blood sugar would go down; my quarterly labs would come back confirming progress; feeling good about the progress, I would slack off exercise and/or let my diet slip; then see the slow increase in my daily blood sugar readings – which would also be confirmed in the quarterly lab results – only to recommit and ride the next wave of the rollercoaster.
Until this time one-year ago. As Dr. Scott and I began the process of writing TED* for Diabetes¸ I realized that I was out of integrity in applying TED* to diabetes because I had been relating to it as a Victim.
After some good coaching from my wife I was able to clarify and declare a shift away from what I didn’t want (the problem of diabetes) to what I do want: a life of health and wellbeing. My journey toward health empowerment began by choosing health as an outcome to create. And with that choice, I made the shift out the Victim Orientation by adopting a Creator Orientation.
Come back next week to find where that journey has taken me in my relationship with diabetes and health.
In the meantime, go take the Diabetes Risk Test –even if you are feeling good. Had I paid attention and taken such an assessment, I would have had a high probably of avoiding the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Here is one thing I have learned along the way: you cannot assume that “feeling good” equals “being healthy.” Feeling OK may merely mean an absence of current illness. As a Creator, choosing health is a whole different playing field!