Mark Harvey — Managing your diabetes

It’s a new day and Spring is in the air (and pretty much, everywhere else) and hope for ever elusive sunshine springs eternal! OK! So, off we go to another more-or-less routine doctor’s appointment, looking forward to getting it behind us so we can go do Spring-stuff, and while we’re there (considering the prospects of dealing with our health insurance, but reminding ourselves that it IS Spring), the doc informs us that we have diabetes.


What happened to Spring?

What happened to my life?

Or, maybe this is “old news” to you. Maybe this diabetes-thing took over your life a long time ago and life has never been the same, so today is just another day of … managing this monster that took over my life.

Or trying to.

Remembering that short-term memory is the second thing to go, I think I mentioned a while back that “chronic conditions” account for 80-pluy percent of all the money that Medicare pays out. “And why do I care?” You reasonably ask. Well, maybe you don’t, but it does tell us that you are far from alone, because diabetes certainly qualifies as one of the premier chronic conditions.

“That’s nice, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

No, it doesn’t. I’m sorry. And I know your life changed. And I know that you are replaying every horror story that anybody ever told you about diabetes. Or, you may even be living one of them. It’s a tough, frustrating and scary disease.

And if you’re new to this game, your head and your heart is filled with all of the things that you CAN’T do, or have to do less of or have to change or have to monitor, and your mind is swirling with facts and numbers and equipment and resources and and and …

All you really wanted to do was just have an early Spring day — on your own terms. No, that wasn’t unreasonable.

But here we are. And when we’re done grieving (because grieving is appropriate and natural, and every single one of us would do it, in our own way), we’re still here — and so is the diabetes.

Now what?

Well, first, try to do exactly what you’re doc (and other healthcare pro’s) told you to do. Take one bite at a time (no pun intended): Read stuff, then read it again, until you understand it. Ask questions, listen to the answers, then ask more questions, reminding yourself periodically that you are NOT dead.

Try your best, do your best, then do better, remembering to forgive yourself, because “life” is generally an exercise in approximation. And don’t forget to step outside (or, at least, look out the window) because it is Spring.


And consider this, along with everything else that you’re having to consider:

You’ve probably heard me go on about a thing called the “Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.” It’s a series of free (Did you get that? FREE!) classes that help folks learn how to handle whatever “chronic disease” that they are having to handle, as sanely as possible and feel as good as possible as a result.

It’s designed by Stanford University (Yes, the “Stanford,” so it’s “evidence-based,” if that’s important to you), and it’s proven itself to help real people with real lives, have lives — really.

And Yes: I’ve seen it change lives — over and over and over.

Well, Stanford developed one of these programs specifically for diabetes, innovatively titled “Diabetes Self-Management Workshop,” and there’s going to be one at Sea Mar Community Health Center (1813 Sumner Avenue in Aberdeen, if that’s news to you) beginning on May 15 and going every Thursday through June 19, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

You’ll be able to learn how to manage symptoms, including fatigue, pain, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia and stress. And don’t forget anger, fear and frustration! Appropriate exercise, appropriate eating, dealing with medications and dealing with healthcare providers (no small task, under the circumstances).

No, this workshop will not be taught by beautiful, lithe 20-somethings who will proceed to badger you about not being a beautiful, lithe 20-something, or scream at you because you aren’t perfect. We’re talking about real people here, who “get it.” Real people who “get” the reality of what you’re up against, and understand that you’re trying.

And trying goes a long way.

So does “free.”

Worth a shot? Good! All you have to do is call 1-866-582-1487 and register. That number rings at one of the offices of Olympic Area Agency on Aging. I know them. They’re nice people.

That’s it. Call and register, then you’re done until the very fifteenth day of May, when you can go sit with a group of folks who are trying to do the same thing that you are trying to do, which is figure out how to take back their lives.

This works. You can do this. Yes, I know that it’s ANOTHER thing to do! So, go look out the window and decide if it’s worth it.

Life will find a way.

Mark Harvey is the director of Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information &Assistance.


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