March 1, 2016

Grace and diabetes, a story of acceptance

I spent my life equating value with effort. I always thought I had to put in 110%. That’s why, when I kept reading 18 mmol/L on my glucometer, I felt like a royal failure.

I tried everything, I mean everything. I’d rationed my food, walked up and down hills. Ingested chromium and cinnamon. Swallowed mountains of bitter gourd, had acupuncture and kinesiology. I even tapped my chakras for a whole year. I cried a river, searched my childhood for wounds, visualized my pancreas as a big pink love heart regrowing cells “compassionately”.

I prayed, man did I pray!

I even tried giving up for a while, my version being; pigging out on a bag of almonds. No matter what I did, the effort I put in did not equal a healthy pancreas.

Being an innovative person I tried a multitude of approaches. But nothing worked because I was missing the key ingredient. Acceptance

I refused to believe that I had an autoimmune disease and that there was no way out!

Imagine… You’re in Prague. You don’t speak the language and can’t read the signs. How do you get to your destination? The most essential information in this equation is to know where you are. Are you at the train station? The tram stop? The airport? Once you know where you can ask someone, google map search, whatever. But if you don’t know the where it’s going to be hopeless.

That’s what it’s like when you refuse to accept your diagnosis. I knew there was a problem. I knew I had diabetes. But all the information about what I thought I had was wrong. I kept treating type 1 as if it were type 2. I kept telling everyone, “My cells are resisting the abundant insulin I produce. I just need to open up my cells again. That’s why you see me eating blah blah blah and doing these yoga practices and having those treatments.” I can remember my ex trying to counsel me, explaining that my big issue was fear. If I could just stop being afraid maybe I’d heal. In hindsight I can only giggle at the ridiculousness of it all.

Knowledge is power

To get anywhere you need to know where you are. But knowing about something is very different than actually experiencing something. I knew all about Type 1- but to be honest only what I’d remembered from my friend’s son injecting in front of me once. Why should I learn about something I couldn’t possibly have. I was a yoga teacher and a yogi. Surely yoga fixes everything!

And when my doctor told me encouraged me to get my A1c down or we’d have to start ‘medication’. I was terrified.

I’d never taken a pill in my life!

So I put in even more effort. And that’s when everything tanked. We were on retreat at a beautiful resort on a hill in the middle of the tropics. I was teaching yoga at dawn, inhaling avocados and trudging my way up and down hills in a last ditch effort to get my levels back down. Deep down I knew it wouldn’t work. My self-assuredness was gone. My motivation exhausted. I couldn’t see the point.

I’ve often heard or read that it’s at the point where you truly give up that grace steps in. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood what grace means. People talk about in lofty terms. Like… and then such and such happened and I was showered by grace.

Understanding grace was about getting real with myself. It happened when I actually accepted for the first time that I was a type 1 diabetic and that my only option was Insulin. I felt it when my diabetes educator said that being diabetic couldn’t possibly be my fault. And I still feel it now as I write. Grace isn’t tangible but it’s no less potent. Grace is what gets me through each and every day.

Rachel Zinman is a senior yoga teacher and teacher trainer with over 30 years experience teaching nationally and internationally. She is currently completing a book on Yoga for Diabetes. If you’d like to preorder the book visit http://yogafordiabetesblog.com/yoga-for-diabetes-book/ . You can also find out more about Yoga for Diabetes on her blog http://www.yogafordiabetesblog.com

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