Fresh Views

JOURNEY: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – ancient Chinese proverb

Tami and Deb with our friend Karen Kemmis ready to head off to the Kentucky Derby a few years back

This Saturday September 5 marks the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby! If you are not familiar with this premier thoroughbred horse racing event, it is held annually in Louisville, KY, typically on the first Saturday in May. Yet, due to the pandemic, this year’s Derby was moved to the first Saturday in September in hopes that this “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” would have an excited crowd cheering on the three-year-old thoroughbreds as they raced the one and a quarter miles to the finish line. The stands typically would be teeming with spectators from around the world oozing with fashion…ladies sporting beautiful dresses and big hats and men decked out in colorful suits…yet this year the stands will be empty. This race is often called “The Run for the Roses” because a blanket of roses is draped over the winning horse. It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. A horse must win all three races to win the Triple Crown.

Our husbands sporting their sharp Derby attire

Not only is this premier horse racing event near and dear to our hearts since we had the opportunity to experience it a few years back, it causes us to take pause and reflect on the JOURNEY to qualify for the “Run for the Roses”.

Some horses are born with talent, and are simply stronger and faster than other horses in the race. They are considered the “favorites” to win their races. But yet, the “favorite” doesn’t always win every race. Sometimes the winner is a horse with lesser talent so to speak, but who has a trainer that’s able to help maximize the horse’s potential through customized training based on the horse’s particular strengths and weaknesses, and by leveraging factors such as weather and track conditions, to give the horse the desire and best chance to win.

As is the path to the Kentucky Derby a JOURNEY, without a doubt living with diabetes is a JOURNEY too.

Today’s word is JOURNEY

This journey brings not only glucose ups and downs, but twists and curves based on life’s experiences and challenges. When working with clients facing diabetes challenges, it’s key to focus on where they are in their journey and the complex decisions and choices they make on a daily, hourly, and even minute-by-minute basis. 

We’ve shared before our fondness of Taxonomy of the Burden of Treatment paper (Tran et al) which helps clarify in a visual way the complexity and work required to manage a complex chronic condition like diabetes. When thinking about where clients are on their journey with diabetes, consider all of the factors that are impacting their decisions, choices, opportunities, and challenges. We can be supportive by helping them focus on their strengths, successes, and resilience. Just identifying one thing that is working well for them or finding an area in their life where their hard work is paying off can be incredibly impactful. 

How often are people with diabetes recognized for the work they do?

During one presentation at the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists virtual annual meeting the current ADCES Diabetes Care and Education Specialist of the Year, Dr. Diana Isaacs, made a profound statement that resonates with a solution-focused approach: 

In her practice’s shared medical appointments where participants wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), she starts off by thanking everyone for wearing the CGM for the week and recognizing the achievement in doing so. A thank you…it sounds simple, but is so powerful. How often are people with diabetes  recognized for the work they do? Diana focuses on what worked well for them during their week, and asks permission to discuss their challenges. During the session participants are able to focus on the journey of learning how they can make decisions and changes moving forward, based on their discoveries. No matter how small the changes may be, small steps add up.

What an impactful way to make education meaningful and individualized, with the DCES stepping alongside as a “think partner” helping them take the next step on their journey. 

As we shared in this blog around Derby time last year, when a client is faced with a scenario they’re trying to sort out, here are 3 key questions you can ask as their think parter:  

  1. What’s going well?
  2. How did you accomplish that?
  3. How can you do more of that? 

Each week we invite readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. This week we encourage you to:

  1. Start each session with a client by acknowledging the hard work they are doing managing their diabetes, even if it’s as simple as a thank-you for attending the session.
  2. Discuss with clients the concept of living with diabetes as being  a journey where there is always opportunity to shift directions.
  3. Offer clients support on their journey by sharing resources on peer support groups, either in person or online. Learning how others are moving forward living with diabetes can be life changing. 

Try out one or more of the strategies we’ve shared, and reach back to  let us know how you’re doing! We’d love to help you de-stress and focus on a positive mindset.

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Deb is an employee of Dexcom but all comments are her own.