A Little Help From Our Friends

Some of us are probably too independent for our own good. I know that I am.

Those of us with diabetes probably need to reach out to our family, friends and co-workers more than most people. The people who are regularly around us can give us useful – even crucial – help when we need it.

I can’t think of any time when we need help more than when we are going low. When our blood glucose is dropping into the hypoglycemic range, people who know us can often tell by what we say or do better than we can ourselves.

A few days ago I had the good fortune to meet Jeff Myers, a diabetes life and wellness coach in Loveland, Colorado. His website, Well Balance: Diabetes Life Coaching, describes the services that he can offer to complement those of your health care team.

Jeff knows the challenges of living with diabetes for the past 24 years. He told me a story from his own life that, more than anything else I know, encapsulates the dilemma of reaching out for help.

“My co-workers have helped me recognize when my blood sugar is dropping,” Jeff says. “A simple ‘you seem confused; are you feeling low?’ during a meeting can help me take action quickly before my blood sugar drops further. It took some acceptance on my part to realize that I’d rather have a little embarrassment from a co-worker’s simple question than a lot of embarrassment after a low blood sugar reaction.”

It’s not only dealing with hypos where we benefit from reaching out. Support can come in many other forms too. Other people can help us avoid going low in the first place. They can provide support to test blood glucose and administer insulin at work.

Jeff provides education and a positive role model to others who have heard only horror stories about living with diabetes. He has helped co-workers learn to avoid the post-lunch blahs by helping them learn about how high glycemic foods stress their bodies and advising them to experiment with different food choices.

The same is true with friends – the more they know, the less they worry about you. The key for Jeff has been to openly describe what he would like them to do in specific situations and answering all their questions to the best of his ability.

Another aspect of this support is finding new friends at work and outside of work that share your goals to live a healthier life and can be your allies in this. It can be as simple as having someone to go for a quick walk with during a work break, rather than to have a snack.

“During a stressful day this has helped me to get going when I might not have on my own,” Jeff says. “And it has given me joy in helping my friends in similar situations.”

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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