1. You’ve written three diabetes books. Why did you write more than one?
I wrote my first book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes in 2007 because I felt something essential wasn’t being addressed in diabetes care. The book is about developing the emotional strength and stamina to manage diabetes each and every day. Without that, all the knowledge, devices and technology won’t keep you well.
My second book, 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It, dispels the myths people believe about diabetes. For instance, “If I’m thin I can’t get diabetes” or “Type 1 is more serious than type 2.” They’re myths.
My new book, Diabetes Do’s & How-To’s,is the direct result of being a peer-mentor. Most people, unfortunately, don’t know what to do to manage their diabetes and how to do it. This book is exactly the action steps to take regarding food, fitness, medical issues and maintaining a positive outlook.
Each book gives you a very different key to live well with diabetes, and each is vitally important.
2. You’ve had a really interesting career – spanning from Madison Avenue to consulting to author. How has that experience helped you in your work to reach out to and educate as many people with T1D as possible?
I’ve always wanted to educate and help others. Advertising helped me hone my skills as a writer. That helped me write three books. Instinctively, though, being a shy kid, I’ve always understood that communication allows us to teach, and, it helps us feel less alone and frightened.
In my thirties, living and working in Tokyo, I spoke to a professional group of 300 people. Never had I done that before. Walking to the podium my heart was beating furiously. But as soon as I began to speak and got my first laugh, I felt like I was home. So I love writing, which is a solitary endeavor, and I love speaking.
3. You’re an A1C Champion – tell us a little bit about that program and what that experience has been like.
The A1C Champion program is a pharmaceutical-sponsored program where people living with diabetes (PWD) successfully educate fellow PWDs. It’s a powerful program, people learning about diabetes from someone who has it. People are inspired to take a step forward in their care.
It’s been a great way for me to share my deep knowledge about diabetes and interact with fellow patients. Of course I see teachable moments everywhere. On my recent trip to Ohio, the woman sitting next to me on the plane was reading about reversing diabetes. I couldn’t help but ask her about her diabetes!
4. You also recently became a certified health coach. How does a coach help people with diabetes?
A coach is part cheerleader, personal advocate, listener, and someone who gives you another lens through which to see whatever you’re struggling with or want to accomplish. When you have a coach there’s a much greater probability that you’ll take action toward your goals. We tend to be more accountable to others than we are to ourselves.
Specifically regarding diabetes, there’s so much to do, from managing our medications to losing weight if necessary, getting more physically active, seeing the doctor on a regular basis, eating healthy, and on and on. A coach can help you identify why it’s important to you to be healthy, what your vision for your life is and help you take small steps forward and develop new habits.
5. What’s been the biggest challenge for you with your own diabetes management and what makes you so successful?
I think a lot of us would agree the biggest challenge is the everydayness of managing diabetes. There are no days I can just sleep in and not check my blood sugar in the morning. No days I can get lazy about renewing my prescriptions, or checking my blood sugar or travel without making sure I have all my supplies.
That said, I think the secret to my success is twofold. I’ve created ways to integrate diabetes, and its tasks, into my day and my life. Simple things like keeping my glucose meter always in the same place, on my kitchen counter, means it’s easy for me to do my blood sugar checks. Keeping healthy foods in the house makes it easier to eat healthy. Taking a walk most mornings is routine. And for me routine is as helpful to managing diabetes as eating healthy and exercising.
Secondly, I can find reasons to be grateful for my diabetes. I wouldn’t eat as healthy or get as much exercise as I do without it. After forty one years living with type 1 diabetes, I have no complications. And diabetes has given me a greater purpose in life – to help and educate others.
I would ask everyone what I often ask people in my workshops, “What’s one positive thing diabetes has given you?” When you look for the good, you dramatically increase your odds of living well with diabetes.