The Gift of Discipline, Revisited

Originally published in 2000.

A couple years ago I shared with this list my journey of having been diagnosed with diabetes and the adjustments I was making. Over the months, I discovered that my blood-sugar levels were in the normal range and stopped treating myself, and when I moved to California, my doctor there said, “You’re not diabetic now, but you will be in five years.”

Well, he was right, if a bit liberal. On Monday I confirmed (with the help of an extraordinarily cute doctor!!) that I have full-blown diabetes.

My friends at school here are commenting that I seem to be pretty sanguine about all this, but really it’s just that I’ve had two years of advance preparation for this week’s announcement. Or maybe I’m in denial.

What is striking me the most about all this is that not everybody has the luxury of something reminding them constantly to engage in self-care. True, every morning before I eat anything, I have to poke myself with a needle to draw a drop of blood to see what my glucose levels are, and that is something that I am honor-bound to do every morning for the rest of my life. Diabetics are encouraged to eat small, frequent meals, which is kind of nice in a way, though it means that I don’t necessarily fill up. (Filling up now can mean, essentially, a lot of sugar dumping into the blood in two hours.) But when one has a busy and/or absorbing schedule, as I do, it is a great discipline to eat something every four hours or so.

So I have to care for myself and I have to be available to myself and my own care on a regular basis. I am reminded of a couple in my building who, with their infant son, have become very dear to me. As I watch how Polleen, the mom, has to be there to nurse her child whenever he is hungry, I realize that my condition requires that I parent myself, that I be there for myself in a conscious, intentional way. I have been gifted of the Universe with the spiritual discipline of self-care. I have never been disciplined to do anything regularly before, but like a Buddhist, I have now been called upon to consider consciously the mundane details of my life. Essentially, I have been rescued from getting away with murder–namely, my own.

This is not a gift that I would have chosen. But, daily needle-sticks and all, I cannot but acknowledge that it is a gift nonetheless. I have again done some railing against the Universe, but ultimately, as with any spiritual discipline, I expect to be stronger for this some day.

If they ask what I did well,
Tell them I said “yes” to life.
~Alicia S. Carpenter


©2000 Khrysso Heart LeFey


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