Reclaiming Power and Acknowledging Small Victories
Yesterday during a workshop, we were asked to describe the last time we felt powerful. After much mental warring and eliminating instances that felt far too personal for an audience I barely knew, I described the moment in which I received my last A1C—a 7.0%. After being deterred by an 8.2% months prior, I was relieved by my recent blood glucose assessment. The more than 1.0% reduction reflected my new-found commitment to paying attention to my body—finding time to record my numbers and paying more attention to what I ate (less guesstimating and more home-cooked meals.)
In the doctor’s office and in that workshop, I viewed my lowered A1C as a victory. I emanated a hopeful outlook towards life with diabetes and was freed of the defeated mindset that often couples my crappy management days/seasons. I was reassured and reminded that I do have (some) control over my condition. Certainly, I can’t always predict how my blood sugars will respond to hormonal fluctuations, roti, jollof rice or seasons of intense stress—however, I do know that they respond…unfavorably. I have the power to make choices, like eliminate certain foods (no more Trinidadian doubles!) and engage in more practices that evoke peace (i.e. African dance, meditation). I can adopt new habits to reduce the reoccurrence of certain high blood sugars and the mental/emotional/physical frustration that accompanies them. I do have power.
I felt even more victorious upon realizing that my declaration had connected me with another diabetic in the room. There was power in sharing. At the end of the workshop, I met a woman in her early 40s who at 13 years old was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. She struggled with management following her first pregnancy and for many years her blood sugars fluctuated within the 200 and 500 range. She recently reprioritized her health and was now interested in my take on carb counting and life with an insulin pump. Though our conversation was brief, it reminded me of the importance of witnessing diverse and representative examples of folks tackling diabetes. There we were, women of color, confiding in our health journeys and habits of care. We both left that meeting feeling motivated. She persuaded me to be more outspoken about life with diabetes, while I (hopefully) encouraged her to commit to carb-counting so that she could be approved for an insulin pump.
Photography: Alfred Sarpeh of Royal Light Photography.