This is the fifth post reviewing a spoke (or cluster of help) in the Diabetes Wellness Wheel. Below is the wheel with my standards, 2022 assessment, and adjustments for 2023 for Friends & Family.
Diabetes Wellness Wheel
Living with diabetes is better with support from friends and family.
Why? Managing diabetes is a balancing act of insulin, medical devices, food, exercise, and stress. Doing it alone, especially when blood sugars are erratic, can get downright frustrating.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that one of the best ways to predict how well someone will manage their diabetes is how much support they get from family and friends. The best support comes with empathy, curiosity, engagement (especially when we’re low), and without judgment. I’ve discussed the effectiveness of empathy in other posts:
Empathy is not sympathy, but rather the ability to engage and understand another’s view of the world (for us, that includes living with diabetes); that person’s perception of their abilities to manage type 1, and their goals and desires for living with diabetes. With that in place, a window opens to sharing experiences, thoughts, and questions that help their journey, not yours.
It’s equally important for those of us living with type 1 to understand the challenges that friends and family face when our diabetes gets out of whack. To appreciate their love and support and be there for them in the same way for their needs. Hey, love and friendships are a two-way street!
Here are my standards, 2022 assessment, and adjustments for 2023.
Defining goals for relationships is challenging. For me, they are twofold:
- To develop and maintain a tight circle of support and relationships from family and friends that are part of my A-Team for living well with diabetes. My A-Team is no more than five people and involves frequent interaction to share, listen, and provide support.
- To develop and maintain flexible relationships with a larger group of family and friends that make up my B-Team for living well with diabetes.
2022 Narrative & Assessment (Score: Pass; Pass/Fail Scale)
Measuring relationships is hard to quantify, so the scale is Pass or Fail. If I could score this category, it would be the highest mark. In 2022 I was fortunate to have amazing support from family and friends for my diabetes, especially with my two hip surgeries in October and November. Here’s more:
- In 2022, most of my support came from my wife and son, who also lives with type 1. Kendra is always available and the best at listening and asking questions. Even though he lives in Phoenix, Connor listens to my babbling, and random thoughts on all things type 1. He manages his type 1 differently than me, and we learn from each other. I value how he integrates patience and persistence in his approach to diabetes. Kendra and Connor are part of my A-Team (which also includes my endocrinologist and diabetes educators).
- My B-Team is a larger group of flexible connections that help with different aspects of type 1. In 2022, these included a sister-in-law, two nephews, and two nieces that live with type 1. We don’t talk about diabetes frequently, but discussing things like exercise, tech, and nutrition with close family members is nice. I also connected with close friends with type 1, a select group of diabetes-themed websites, YouTubers, JDRF connections, fellow type 1 cyclists on the KC JDRF chapter ride team, and several clinical specialists at Tandem Diabetes that live with type 1.
The plan for 2023 is to continue the excellent support and relationships I have with family and friends. But to whom much is given, much is required. And with the high level of support for my type 1, I should be doing more for others.
This blog is part of doing more, but here are ways I can expand my support to others:
- Continue writing two posts a week
- Writing for others, not me
- Overcoming my shy nature and sharing the blog (I am so not a social media person!)
- Speaking to larger groups of people in the type 1 community (I’m a good public speaker)