A Deeper Look at Gratitude

I posted in our Facebook ‘CFKI Members’ group about my morning routine on Monday, in which I start by thinking about one thing that I am grateful for.  It’s a great practice to frame your day with that positive vibe.  Even if you have to think hard about something to be grateful for because of our current situation, the process of brainstorming something that makes you happy will… make you happy!

Coach Liz wrote a blog expanding on this topic of gratitude and sent it my way, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you all.  Thanks to Liz for sharing her story with us!

 — Ryan


I begin most mornings by listing three things I am grateful for. Most mornings this list is: family, health, and something else.  When I began this practice, I naively believed that if I wrote about being thankful for the fact that I have a water view, I would no longer feel jealous of my neighbors who are waterfront.  A little over two years since I began this morning routine, I still get jealous of them from time to time, but I no longer feel the need to one day own a waterfront home. Yes, writing about what I am grateful for has made me more content with what I have.  Yet the biggest impact has been the fact that it shines a light onto areas in which I have grown complacent. My example about real estate is a win- I don’t at all need a better property. But, when I examine my gratitude for what I take advantage of, that is when I have to acknowledge that work needs to be done.  Recently, this has been my health.

I don’t have an exact diagnosis date, but sometime in the spring of 1985 I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  This is my 35th year with this disease, and recently I have been thankful that I have relatively minor complications from the disease, despite living like a jerk for a good decade of my life.  I was a heavy smoker, my A1c (measurement of average blood sugar levels over 3 months) was dangerously high and I just didn’t care. Two eye surgeries and two high risk pregnancies later, I got the wake up call, and got my sh*t together.  Two years ago I began a new treatment, which they deemed to be the “artificial pancreas.” I wore a CGM, continuous glucose monitor, which measures blood sugar levels throughout the day, as well as an insulin pump. This system is a “closed loop,” meaning that the pump would respond to the data collected by the CGM to either give more insulin, or less insulin, based on trends.  Previously, the CGM would give the patient the data, and they had to adjust their insulin accordingly. This system worked pretty well, but had some annoying downsides. First of all, it would kick you out of the loop when you need it the most, it targets your blood sugar higher than most diabetics want, and it beeps, all the damn time. On the upside, with relatively little effort I had good blood sugars overall.  My A1c was ok and I didn’t have to put too much thought into my diabetes.

As my 35th “diaversary” approached, I began to reflect on my gratitude for my health.  I had grown complacent. I was thankful for good, but that shouldn’t be enough. I can do better.  I need to do better to live longer. So, I began “looping” on my own. I took the advice of my brother, and thousands of other diabetics, and I built an app that does a much better job at connecting the CGM to the pump.  It is more accurate, it’s more aggressive, oh and it’s not FDA approved. I am one of thousands on this system, created by a diabetic, who didn’t want to wait around for something better.  It has changed my blood sugar levels from good to excellent. I once again feel a drive to advocacy and I am no longer complacent with good diabetic control when I can have excellent control.  As a result, my gratitude in the mornings is no longer for my health, but for my efforts to improve my health.

I encourage you all to start your days with three things you are grateful for, and then take a closer look at those three things.  Can you improve? Are you thankful for your job right now? Good. What actions do you need to take to make sure that you’ll keep your job?  If you continue to break out of complacency, you will find yourself appreciative of your hard work, and a deeper level of gratitude will come.

— Liz