How Managing My Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes Led to the Gift of Resilience

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Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) in his 30s, Tim Wotton soon realized how vital “resilience and relentlessness” were to his survival.

In my late 30s, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was a likely side-effect of my life-long condition, cystic fibrosis (CF), as my pancreas gradually became more affected.

I knew how to handle the multitude of daily CF medications, but diabetes was a different matter. I suddenly felt self-conscious and incompetent about managing my diabetes treatment, whether it was testing my blood sugars or administering injections after every meal.

My smorgasbord of daily treatments now takes more than two hours to "complete" over the course of the day. My regimen includes a range of pills, medical devices, injections, and vitamins. There are no days off and no remission with my treatment regimen. It can feel relentless and all-consuming - like a scary roller coaster ride you can never get off!

And, to be honest, the daily burden is harsh. Even with all my treatments, I only have the health that most "normal" people would despise. My best days are like the worst days for my healthy peers.

My diabetes diagnosis was another bitter pill

Getting CF-related diabetes (CFRD) was a significant moment for me – a crossroads in my life.

I thought to myself: ‘Will this be too much for me to bear, or can I find a way to handle two big health conditions?'

It did take it out of me. It was only natural to struggle with keeping positive and upbeat. Looking back, it all felt too much and rather depressing.

3 Ways I fought for and found strength while managing CFRD

1. I turned my frown upside down

Once I got some control of my diabetes treatments and blood sugar levels, my lung health and energy soon improved, which was a boost.

But, instinctively, I knew I needed a different approach to dealing with the negative thoughts still dragging me down.

Having diabetes, as well as cystic fibrosis, turned out to be the catalyst for a newer, more positive way of life. Managing these conditions pushed me to explore my mental resilience. I spent hours researching all the ways I could harness the power of my mind to overcome my health challenges.

2. I became my self-COACH, not self-CRITIC

Indeed, once I had grasped the notion that "the most important person you'll ever speak to is yourself," I began a journey of self-discovery. If I couldn't be cured, I'd have to work on finding ways to endure.

Changes didn't happen overnight, but I did start adjusting my attitude and approach toward everyday life. One day at a time, in tiny increments, I started forming daily habits to improve my well-being. Meditation, mindfulness, and finding quiet spots in nature helped my frantic, grinding world of worry become more still. I appreciate that stillness.

I aim to be my own health champion by re-setting myself mentally at the start of every day. Every morning, I tell myself what I'll do before sundown and what I'll achieve – despite my life-long conditions.

3. I found my “mindset for life”

Until my late thirties, I hadn't appreciated how helpful my mindset is to my survival. The trick is to be present in my life now, as it is, rather than switching between living in the past and the future.

I could let CF defeat me. I could let my diabetes diagnosis, strict medical regimen, and comparisons between my health and my peers' health beat me. Any number of things could be the "final straw" if I allowed it.

Or, instead of being defeated by gaining an extra condition, it could spur me to fight back mentally when life gets me down.

The quality of my thoughts determines the quality of my life. Battling two chronic conditions has taught me to be just as relentless as my illness, but in a way that enriches me. When I'm on my knees, I use the gift of resilience to get up and go again.

In the words of the US heavyweight boxer Jack Dempsey: “A champion is someone who gets up, even when he can’t.”

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for the evaluation, management, or treatment of any condition.

The individual(s) who have written and created the content and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence, or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen.


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