• Fresh Views

    Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Problem Solving

    I will breathe. I will think of solutions. I will not let my worry control me. I will not let my stress level break me. I will simply breathe. And it will be okay. Because I don’t quit. – Shayne McClendon

    Tomorrow, November 14 is #WorldDiabetesDay! Deb and Tami have had some impactful moments in recent years during diabetes month and on #WDD. Deb has been involved in hosting events at the California state Capitol with speakers, music and lighting of the Capitol in blue. Deb’s also spend #WDD 2017 at the headquarters of  Novo Nordisk in Denmark. Tami has done TV spots, radio shows, Facebook Live and videos, provided community programs, participated in screening events and published articles – all to raise awareness and encourage people to know their risk for type 2 diabetes. 

    The theme of #WorldDiabetesDay this year is the impact that diabetes has on the family. One of the goals is to promote the role of the family in the prevention, management, care and education of diabetes. In a solution-focused approach, the family is important, and we call them VIPs – .and this definition is broad – it includes any one who is a “very important person” in your life. Someone who can provide support when needed, who will notice changes being made, and  who can respect personal decisions and choices. What’s really important is that these VIPs are not the “diabetes police”, or people who make managing diabetes harder. As you think about problem-solving, think about including VIPs in both the discussion and the plan to help foster success and respect.

    Taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes self care

    This is week 6 of our 7-week series on applying a solution-focused approach to the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for managing diabetes. This series is focusing on “flipping” the conversation from a “problem focused” (traditional medical) approach to a solution-focused conversation. Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Taking Medications here.  And the weeks prior we focused on Monitoring blood glucose here,  Healthy Eating  here, Being Active here, and Healthy Coping here. This week, we are talking about Problem Solving.

    AADE7 Self-Care Behavior #6: Problem Solving

    With diabetes, “problem” solving is part of the daily routine…figuring out when, what, and how to eat for meals and snacks. What kind, how much, and when to fit in physical activity. When to check blood glucose, how to time any medications, and the list goes on.

    And then life throws curve balls, and no matter how well you plan, unexpected things happen that can send blood glucose out of range. And that’s when more problem-solving skills are called into action to determine how to handle the scenario and what to do to prevent it from happening again. 

    Also, diabetes needs may change over time, requiring adjustments because previous solutions no longer work.

    In taking a solution-focused approach, we typically don’t focus on solving problems….as you know. We focus on solutions…looking for what is already working and trying to do more of that.  So this self-care behavior is not as intuitive to translate. Here are 4 strategies to help diabetes care and education specialists and people with diabetes flip the problem-solving paradigm.

    1. Practice self-compassion. Diabetes is different every day, even when people make similar choices. We learned from our Twitter research that people living with diabetes would like to practice more self-compassion. They want to be kinder and not blame themselves. 
    2. What has gone well today? When you are faced with challenges, think about what DID work for you during this challenging time. Instead of doing a deep dive into all of the issues that might have impacted you, spend some time focusing on your successes. Then tomorrow, try to do more of what worked.  
    3. Keep a journal of solutions. When things are going well, keep track of these small wins so the next time you are faced with a challenge, you have some “go to” solutions ready to try.
    4. Share with your VIPs. Ask your VIPs about their ideas.  Do they have some ideas about what works well for you and the times they see your successes.

    When working with clients, instead of traditional problem-solving exercise, try to focus on existing solutions to create change.  Begin by exploring these 3 questions to flip the conversation.

    1. Tell me about a time when you felt the happiest about your diabetes management?
    2. What was it about that day or time that made it better?
    3. Can you think of times when the challenge you are facing now was not present in your life? What were you doing then?

    We challenge you each week to try some flips into your conversations and let us know what impact they have. Let’s join together throughout the month of November to raise awareness of all issues that can improve living with diabetes.

    Join us next week for our final installment as we discuss a solution focused-approach to the self-care behavior around reducing risks.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    November 27, 1996, 7:10 AM

    While our A Fresh POV for You blog only began in November of 2018, Deb has been blogging about travel adventures and experiences for some time. She wanted to share a story, along with some special travel blog posts from the past, today, on this special day for their family.

    Adoption Day, June 19, 1997 Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China

    Today, June 19th, is the adoption day of Deb’s amazing and talented daughter, Diana. Diana was adopted when she was 6 months old from Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China and for the first 21 years, they celebrated adoption day with a small gift, one from today along with a cherished gift they bought in China.  They brought home 21 gifts, one for each year. Some were simple, like a stuffed panda, and some were more meaningful, including pearls for her 16th birthday (matching pears like the ones Deb is wearing in the photo above). Now that Diana is 22 and there are no more gifts from China, Deb remembered the biggest gift of all, and wanted to share the story today on this very special day.

    Here’s a little bit of Deb’s story and links to 2 previous travel blog posts.

    As with many children adopted from China we don’t have any information about Diana’s life before she entered the orphanage, and simple things we all take for granted, like knowing the time and date of your birth are not always known.  We knew the date of Diana’s birthday, but were never certain it was accurate, but it really didn’t matter, it was her birthday. (And interestingly the same birthday as my dad and step mother, but my dad passed away before we adopted Diana).

    When Diana was in grade school she had a project that required her to enter the time of the day she was born.  It was hard to tell her that I didn’t know. So we looked at the clock (We lived in Chicago on Central time) and it was 9:10 am, so I said, “Let’s just say you were born at 9:10 in the morning. No one else needs to know anything different.”  So, life went on. We moved to California (now Pacific time, so two hours earlier) and we were fortunate to take a special trip back to the orphanage in China in 2009 with a group of moms and daughters that we originally traveled with to adopt Diana in 1997.  

    Four of the mom’s and daughters, from our original 1997 trip, who returned to Yangzhou as part of a larger group trip.

    If you are interested in the whole, amazing, incredible trip you can read all of the blogging I did that week here.  I titled this particular blog, on Wednesday March 18, 2009, November 27, 1996, 7:10 am  because we found a miracle and a most amazing gift. You can read all of the details of that special day if you are interested, but the short story is this.  We found a “red note” while looking through Diana’s medical records. A mythical and elusive thing we heard other families talking about, often written by birth families, and attached to babies before being taken to the orphanage, since the Chinese Zodiac is an important concept in China and birth information is needed.

    We never knew Diana had a note. We were not told it came with her.  I immediately started crying, unsure of what it said and secretly hoping that November 27th was her real birthday.  And when they read to us that it indeed said November 27, 1996 AND 7:10 AM we were stunned, amazed and now really crying.  On that day in Chicago, when we looked at the clock it was 9:10 am BUT it was 7:10 am in California, where we live now. Surreal!

    Discovering the “Red Note” and learning Diana was born at 7:10 AM

    Unfortunately they would not let us take the note home. We were crushed, …..we cried, …..we begged, …..we pleaded and I think to get us to stop talking, they told us she could come back when she was 18 and get it.  So when she turned 18 I emailed and asked if she could have the note and they said no. When she turned 19, I asked again, and they said no. And Finally when she was 20 I asked again, and I told them how happy she was and how she was living her dreams at UCLA and marching in the band and loving life, and the only gift she really wanted was to have that one small piece of her past that connected her to her birth family in China and I didn’t understand why she couldn’t have it.  Finally, they relented, and said, “Okay, you can come and get it!” That was one of the happiest emails of my life. We were already planning a holiday trip to Asia that December, so Mark, Diana and I left a few days earlier and went back to her orphanage to meet everyone there, and most importantly to get the note. You can read about our whole trip here.

    We also decided to retrace our trip that we made 20 years ago, remaking photos and having so much fun sharing that special time with Diana.

    All of our photo remakes. My favorite is Mark carrying Diana up the steps of Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Mausoleum in Nanjing.

    How do I tie any of this to using solution focused methods?  Well we had a vision for the future that would not let us stop working towards our goal (getting that red note). We kept trying and used all the strengths we had and told a story, full of possibilities and opportunities, that finally moved someone enough to make things happen.  Sometimes life is messy and sometimes it’s hard and then, one day it happens to be really, really beautiful.

    The red note, still in the medical record
    Diana, Deb and Mark touring Yangzhou

    On this very special day, a day that changed our family’s life forever, I want to tell our daughter how much we love her and how proud we are of her and most importantly that our lives would be so less without her in it. Happy Adoption Day, Diana!

    Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou.