Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: The Fragility of Life and Diabetes

Today in church I heard much about the fragility of life. It really got me thinking. I've had a lot of feedback about my post yesterday, all of which I really appreciate, even though some of it was not positive. Yes, it's true: I have a family member who is reliably negative about everything I do. This person took my post as "a big long whine" and a plea for support. I did a lot of thinking about how this post may have come across. I like to use my family member to flesh out the gnarly side of life. So I wanted to clarify a few things.

I appreciate the support I get here so much. It is my main support in life, and I really do value it so much.

With my lifestyle changes...I fully expect that I will be the one who has to do most of the supporting of myself, and as I mentioned, this ongoing support, almost a positive kind of brainwashing, will be vital. I need to constantly remind myself of what I'm doing and why. I need to feed my mind supportive literature and podcasts and self-talk. I need to buck the culture that pushes me to eat certain things for social reasons. That's been my downfall in the past.

Not everyone needs to eat a rigorous diet. Moderation is a beautiful way of living and I believe in it. Green smoothies (not just a food item but an way of eating popularized by Victoria Boutenko in 2005 in her book "Green for Life" and others) are working out well for Julia. I drank green smoothies for months when I was totally raw and also at another time when I was without most of my teeth and yet wanted to keep a clean diet; again, a healthy way of ingesting nutrients. I have training as a raw chef, have been vegetarian and vegan and totally raw, and as I wrote, am familiar with many other different healthy ways of eating and of weight management, having studied nutrition for over thirty years. I am talking about something quite a bit different. Something that has to do with the fragility of life.

I have a friend, a Hawaiian teacher (kumu), the one I was writing my book with initially. He has diabetes, just like my husband, and just like I will if I keep on eating healthfully while including carbohydrates in my diet. In the almost three years that I have been working on my book, my friend has gone from being healthier than I am, to being ill, to losing his eyesight and then one by one, each of his legs and most of his fingers. Diabetes is a special disease. It may seem to be a common problem, more of an inconvenience almost, and it is, but it can suddenly and without warning, turn deadly. Peripheral neuropathy is incredibly painful. So I saw my friend deteriorate swiftly and surely.

Diabetes must be taken seriously. I see my husband going down a similar path to that of our friend's. Someone who knows he has diabetes baked him special treats and sweets for Christmas as a loving gift of her expertise, not really understanding that for a diabetic, sugar is a killer...someone in his office baked him homemade goods daily for weeks and would leave them in the break room for him, because he is such a hard worker and deserves them, in her mind. He has progressed to the point where he will need to begin to inject insulin soon, despite all of the medication he is taking, because he can not seem to modify his diet. He is tired all the time and continues to gain weight.

It is up to the individual to make intensely personal decisions about how stringently they need to eat and what they want their quality of life to be. After extensive research first for LoveHubbie and now for myself, I know exactly how to eat. I have just delayed. Been afraid of change and allowed myself to buy into a story that makes it "hard" for me to do anything else. But I can just as easily do the hard work of being different and having a different story. This is what I've decided to do!

So I meant the post from yesterday to be kind of a confession of my general laziness and of my ability to buy into a "oh I can just live like everyone else" type of denial. I didn't mean it as a whine but as a transparency of my hitting bottom that is hopeful and exciting and adventurous because I've finally gotten the message. I can indeed write the story of my life differently, and I am ready to do the work. I can and will show the integrity that is so important to me and so vital to my experience of who I am in the world.

I appreciate your reminders to be gentle and compassionate with myself and I will. I promise.

Most important of all, I've truly realized in the last day or so that it is absolutely, positively A-OK that change is hard and uncomfortable right now. I've let that stop me for too long. I've let it discourage me and dissuade me from doing what I know is right for me. Hard---okay, check. Yes, yes. Uncomfortable---okay, check. Yes, absolutely. I can handle this. I'll do the mindful thing. Breathe. Get through this. Observe. Breathe. I know that my path is leading me toward abundant life, which is all that matters to me right now.

This road is not for everyone. But I can say that I wish that it had been the road for my friend. And that I wish it will be some day for LoveHubbie. And that I'm glad it's here for me to provide an alternative for me.

Thank each one of you for what you wrote, and to those who supported me off the blog as well (especially@livinlowcarbman). A special thanks to my cranky family member whom I love and who brings out the negative in every situation---you are my greatest teacher on the road to love.

~Photo from 1980 taken by Roderick Lee Dail


kikipotamus said...

Olivia, this is very inspiring to me, especially the part where you acknowledge that it's going to be hard and uncomfortable at first. From past experience I SHOULD remember that the uncomfortable period doesn't last forever. Eventually my body reaches that point where my appetite changes. Yet I allow dread of crossing the bridge to cause me to postpone. Grrr. Thank you for inspiring me with your courage.

Rick Hamrick said...

O, it is heartening to hear you decide you can do this, regardless of the boogiemen living in your head.

They aren't real. You are.

You finding the absolute bottom is so wonderful! Julia teaches that it is the most powerful point you can reach, because once you find the bottom, everything is an improvement from there, surrender is automatic since there is nothing left to defend or protect, and you are ready to step ahead.

That's all it is, you know? One step. We can focus on the next step after the first one, but for now, one step. Nothing obliterates angst in quite so satisfying a way as action does. I love the giant POOF sound it makes as it evaporates.

Jane said...

I struggle lots with nutrition and diet. I don't have a weight problem at all; the issue is how certain foods make me feel and how I still eat them anyway. I've been wanting to go vegetarian so badly but I always end up falling off the veggie cart about 2 months in to it. Still, I try and try again. At church this week, the reverend talked about choices and how, once we make a committment to something, our choices become less. So if I make a commitment to become vegetarian, my choices of meat are no longer in the equation. I then starting thinking about how well this can work with just about any commitment we make with ourselves.

My dad is diabetic. So is my brother. My dad is amazing at monitoring his diet. My brother is terrible at it. He's gone nearly blind and landed himself in the hospital on more than one occasion. He finally has a built in pump which makes it a bit easier for him. I am in no way judging here but it seems to me a matter of making a commitment to keeping the diabetes under control.

Angela said...

You're incredible. And I love the picture!!! I'm eating so well now that I have a home again and am in control of what I eat. My body is literally craving food as medicine and I am able to listen to it. You are practically there, O.