Day To Day

Rant: so many “coaches”

Managing diabetes is hard. You need to change your diet, your life habits, and your exercise habits. You need to relearn everything you know about food, huger, and health. It’s hard to do on your own. On some days, you’ll lose hope. Everything will appear too hard. You’ll want to give up.

Unfortunately, as a diabetic, giving up essentially means misery and eventually death, via amputations and other nasty side-effects. So giving up is not an option.

When I started looking into support structures for diabetics, I found so many “coaches” trying to sell their wares on Facebook and other places. I was thinking that maybe what we needed was support groups in the sense of alcoholics anonymous. In a way, diabetes has lots of similarities with alcoholism: it’s a disease, it will probably be around for the rest of your life, even if you’re in remission you’ll have a chance of falling off the wagon at any time with dire consequences, and you need to be strict with yourself on a daily basis. The same way alcoholics need to keep away from alcohol, you need to keep away from glucose. With diabetics anonymous, you could join a group to discuss your issues when you need it and have a sponsor to guide you.

If you’re lucky, people close to you will support you as much as they can. Unfortunately non diabetics don’t always understand the consequences of diabetes and how to manage it. My mum has made us vegetarian dishes (my wife and I are vegetarians) but used sugar to make it tastier! She didn’t realise that sugar in dishes other than desserts is still sugar. Obviously, I had a massive spike at 160mg/dl after lunch on that day.

Also it’s not always easy to be fully open and honest with your family. You don’t want to worry them. When you’re ready to give up, you might not want to tell them. They’ll know the consequences. You don’t want your condition and your problems to become theirs.

You’d also expect doctors to help you. But let’s be honest: they only see you a few minutes every few weeks or months. they can’t provide the support you need. And that’s assuming they even know much about diabetes. Most likely they had a few hours of lecture on the subject in second year. They’re not specialised in treating the condition. Endocrinologists might know more but they won’t have much more time for you.

So having access to people who know what you’re going through, who have more experience with the disease than you, who will have gone through the same journey, met the same pitfalls and cravings, would be beneficial.

One problem I have with “coaches” is that it’s a business transaction. Their interest is not to improve your condition, it’s to take your money. If they manage to help you in the process, good for everybody, but it’s not a necessity for them. They can still make the many unverifiable claims I’ve seen to drum up business and enroll more people into their “program”. With diabetics sometimes being depressed and ready to give up, it’s easy to trick them and take their money.

Another problem is that it’s not anonymous. At least at first. The advantage of being anonymous is that you feel freer to talk about your problems and be honest about them: you have no reason to hide anything from a total stranger you might never see again. If you hire a “coach”, they know who you are. You’ll have a relationship with them (business at first, possibly friendship eventually). You might fall back in the same trap you might have talking about your condition and your difficulties to your family.

I’m not sure I’d approach these coaches. Facebook groups (the private ones) and online communities (the non commercial ones) seem a better bet to me.

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