Be Thankful: A Letter of Gratitude

| Apr 7, 2011

If you, like me, have diabetes, you realize upon reflection that you are, despite the constant demands of the disease, blessed.  Somewhere, sometime, you have benefited from the kindness, professionalism, and genuine concern of a medical professional, be it a nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, physician, therapist, or supporting staff.   

Composing a letter of gratitude to one of these people who has touched your life is a wonderful way to celebrate the new year.   Here are a few tips to get your started:

1:  Take time to reflect.   During your time with this disease, who has made the greatest positive impact on your life with diabetes?

2:  Make a list.  What qualities do you most appreciate in this individual?  What specific incident or incidents influenced your diabetes management and outlook the most?  

3:  Write a first draft.   Writing intimidates a lot of people, so allow yourself a rough draft or two to get all your thoughts on paper.  Include as much specific information as possible, especially if the professional has a lot of patients.  

4:  Revise.  Read your letter over and record any corrections that you would like to make in your final draft.  

5:   Write your final version, being sure to sign your name, and send it off to the postman. Many medical professionals communicate with patients by email, but an email has a less personal feel than a letter received in the mailbox.   

I know that diabetes is sometimes incredibly isolating, and it's easy to forget the professionals who work diligently to make sure that we receive the care and education we need to self-manage our disease. When I take the focus off myself, I realize that diabetes care is a team effort. The people who seek to keep me healthy and strong deserve a "thank you."   

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Doctors & Nurses, Endocrinology, Health Care, Living with Diabetes, Psychology

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Posted by Anonymous on 7 April 2011

Please don't ask children who have such a challenging illness as Type 1 diabetes to be thankful and act like Pollyanna. It is no surprise that depression and diabetes go hand in hand when children with diabetes are so often told to be glad that they don't have a different disease or that they do have someone to help. I never see anything like that said to children with cancer, asthma or other conditions. As for being "glad", my son would be so happy if diabetes would take a hike! (PS he is always very polite & mannerly to everyone including his health professionals).

Posted by Anonymous on 7 April 2011

Dear Anonymous, Wow! Sounds like you are bitter that your son is a diabetic. Are you passing this attitude off to your son? I would assume that as his parent, you would be the one writing the letter, possibly with a little input from him.
The article does not indicate you should be thankful to be diabetic. It suggest thanking the person who has had the most impact on helping you cope with it.

I have been on insulin for over 50 years and unfortunately the physician (also a type 1) that helped me the most is no longer alive. However, I am still grateful to him for the compassion and insight he gave me.

Posted by shosty on 8 April 2011

Just writing to support the parent above. I once wrote a similar message to a magazine (In addition to the polyanna message, I also objected to what I call the "I climbed Mt. Everest with diabetes" stories, when ordinary life already seemed so difficult).

I also got answers criticizing me for raising my daughter with such a negative attitude, from someone who had had diabetes for many decades.

My daughter has an incredibly positive attitude as a mature 21 year-old at an Ivy league college, and an artist. However, part of that maturity lies in allowing her to honestly express her feelings. As it happens, she has many other health issues, and diabetes is her "normal," since she got it at age 4. Kids like this grow up as brave soldiers, and need permission to articulate and even feel their negative emotions as well.

I want to say to the person who accused this writer of bitterness, that there is a huge difference in the way YOU feel, because it is you, yourself. If you were a PARENT of a young child, you might have some other feelings, which this parent was trying to express.

Many of us can bear life's difficulties with the "polyanna" attitude you suggest, but watching our children suffer can truly break our hearts.

Another thing is that there is a huge variation between individuals on how hard to manage diabetes is. I find that the more difficult the child's diabetes is to manage, the harder the life, and the less understanding there is for the parent or for the child.

Congratulations on living so long with diabetes. I'm sure you attribute this longevity to good habits, hard work and a positive attitude. I have seen this many times in magazines and online. I think that genetics and luck are big factors in living a long time, with diabetes and without.

A final point is that parents today are expected to do "tight control" of their children's diabetes. This is extremely time-consuming and stressful, and often includes getting up at night. Tight control also involves more fears of lows, and more severe hypoglycemic events.

Finally, we have not experienced compassionate help from very many health care providers. There have been a few.I have written thank you notes to two MD's because their good care stood out, but certainly not to say my child is "blessed" to have the health problems she has.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 April 2011

No I am not bitter. I'm not that kind of person at all. I work with my son on managing his diabetes daily and we had a fantastic relationship with his consultant who has recently retired. We hope to develop the same relationship with his new consultant too. Please do not judge my views in such a negative way just because I don't share your views. What I am saying is that we would NEVER speak in the way that you suggest to a child, who has even a cureable cancer but yet this burden of endless gratitude and gladness is constantly placed on diabetic children. I hear it all the time. My son has a pragmatic approach to his diabetes. He has it and we are where we are so he gets on with it. As a family, we do what we have to do so that he has exactly the same life as any other child. But I don't expect him to feel gratitude that it all has to be done because my wish for him is that he wouldn't have to do it! I know that I don't worry about my other child in the same way as I worry about my child with diabetes. He plays a lot of sport which is good but there are the hypos which result and we have to be like the girl guides, always prepared. We have to be on the alert 24/7. No, I am not bitter but I am not going to join the Pollyanna brigade either. Nor will I expect my son to... and you know, he has the best HbA1c at our hospital and was interviewed on radio because of his truly accepting approach to his condition - no fairytales involved!

Posted by Anonymous on 8 April 2011

Many thanks Shosty. I too am a parent of a wonderful diabetic child and you know exactly where I am coming from. Thank you again, Aine

Posted by Gratitude Guru on 8 April 2011

It is still possible to express your gratitude in the face of adversity. It is always easier to do so when we have our health, when finances are no problem, and when "Life is Good." You should never ignore issues that need attention, but you can focus your attention on the positive while dealing with the negative. Be Well. Paul.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 April 2011

Thank you for your article and reminding me to do what I have been meanig to do for a while. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 15 years and after the past 5 years of constant hospitalization fighting malnutrition, dehydration, severe edema, gastroparesis, heart problems, blood sugar swings of 30 to 900 to name a few, thankfullness was a hard pill to swallow. But thankfulness for diabetes is not what you wrote. You wrote blessd for the people/doctors etc that have helped. It has taken a path through 5 endos, 3 gastros, and 5 generall practitioners, and 6 hospitals and various clinics, I am BLESSED to have found my current TEAM. And those who have helped me to fight this disease are worthy of some praise. I have a very positive attitude despite the battles I fight and the things I have had to endure but that doesn't mean I am oblivious to the full range of impact of diabets

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