Thanks everyone for the responses so far. I really didn't want this post to die. That was an interesting article you posted, Ruth. I'll have to look up some of his other stuff about diabetes. And, you posted exactly how I anticipated; it was great to hear your story and how you were able to integrate your spirituality with your diabetes. I'll share mine in a bit, but I'm glad that you were brave enough to put your opinion out there first! I didn't want to be the first because my view is probably more of the minority view regarding the matter, and I didn't want anyone to be deterred by my first post + opinion.
Also, Brian that was amazing how you were able to find the spiritual strength to treat your low. And Audrey I was glad to hear your personal views on your spirituality and how it relates to your diabetes as well. Thanks for posting!
Alyssa, I haven't seen any studies done but I do know that hope is something that is very important for patients with chronic disease to have. Whether one is hoping for a cure, hoping for advances in treatment, or hoping that God will comfort and alleviate their suffering I don't think makes a difference. I have heard many, many anecdotes of spirituality helping immensely, though. This is just my opinion, and I'd like to share how else my diabetes has affected my spirituality.
Mandie (http://juvenation.org/members/mcmermand/default.aspx) and I were discussing this privately last night. I'll reiterate my part of the discussion that outlined how I feel diabetes has affected my spirituality:
I was raised believing in the Christian God, that everything was either from God or from the Devil. When I was diagnosed, it threw me right on my back. I was a punk teenager of 19 and held this bad-boy type image that disgusts me now, looking back on it. Basically, I was a bit of a delinquent. My diagnosis just so happened right when I was developing my own philosophies and worldviews, so I knew I was about to make a big choice. My whole family is absolutely devout religious; it permeates every aspect of their lives. So, I was discharged from the hospital knowing almost nothing (diabetic discharge education needs some SERIOUS reform where I live, in my opinion). I tried to "just go with the flow" for a while and give myself shots based on the sliding scale I was given by the doctor. It didn't work at all. My blood sugars were through the roof half the time and slamming to the ground the rest of the time.
So, I remember pleading and pleading with the big man upstairs that he would help me and make it all go away. But, things only got worse. I never had developed a personal relationship with God, but I did often think about being righteous rather than being evil. My pleading seemed useless. I was devastated. Then one day I stopped feeling sorry for myself and stopped complaining and moping around and just decided to take care of the beast on my own. I went to the library, rented about 5 books about diabetes, read one completely, and used the others as resources for the next few weeks. My control suddently became perfect, and I felt incredible. My A1C was in the 5s after being in the 13s just the time before (my A1C has never been below 6 since that time - I was absolutely devoted to attaining perfect control). Since then, the whole idea of a God that you can petition with prayers has been a complete non-issue. I no longer have duality of thought (oh this is evil and that is righteous, etc) or consider anything a "blessing" or "curse" from a supernatural power. It isn't that I completely deny the existence of any "power" or "force" that is beyond human comprehension, but the idea of the supernatural just doesn't come across my mind anymore.
I've adopted the worldview that the sacred is everywhere. But, I consider very little of what man has created to be "sacred". I've become a pretty ardent environmentalist (I hope I have the means for my future home to be completely energy-independent - I would love to have a solar-powered house - and I hope to not own a car, I think cars are basically the plague of the earth right now) and a health-food nut. I do feel that me being diagnosed with diabetes was one of the most fortuitous accidents that has ever happened to me. I feel that making the things that are around me sacred (my relationship with my wife, the trees outside my window, my insulin pump) provides me with a fulfillment that making the supernatural sacred never could. But I do know that the event - whether my diabetes was divine intervention or not doesn't really concern me - breathed a renewed passion for life into me that was almost forever lost. I wouldn't even give my diagnosis back if you offered to pay me, but I would love a cure now that I've learned what it's like to suffer.
I'm not sure if it's a difference in personality, or it was just a difference in timing or what... but, I am the only one in my family who does not claim to know that a personal God exists. I don't claim to know that a personal God does not exist either, but from my experiences so far I find myself leaning toward that side of the fence. It's interesting to me how much diabetes affects my life so significantly. It has helped me to form a meaningful sense of spirituality, encouraged me to choose a fulfilling career, and allowed me to tell a whole crowd of probably disinterested readers on juvenation about my experiences.
Thanks for taking the time to read this if you were able to finish! I know it was QUITE a long response, hahahaha.