LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Lioness and the Wind

Men. We are more than what we eat. We are what we do. Have you ever seen two men meet for the first time? We shake hands, look the other guy up and down once real quickly (Can I take him? Can I outrun him?), then we introduce our selves with two key pieces of information: we give our names and we say what we do.

“Hi, I’m Hank, I’m a plumber.”

“Nice to meet you Hank, I’m Alejandro, I’m a computer programmer.”

Tinker, Tailor,
Soldier, Sailor,
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief.

So you women reading this probably think that this is silly. But it is not. Or maybe it is, but it is nevertheless a fact of man-dom. Is hardwired both into our DNA and our culture. This is why out-of-work men have nervous breakdowns. Lose your job, lose your identity.

Not that I’ve lost my job, not yet anyway, more on that in a bit. But I am having an identity crisis. You see, there is no name for what I do. So I don’t have an identity as a man. I don’t have a name for what I do, so I have no name for who I am. Deep-down, at my core, it turns out that this creates a certain level of insecurity. An insecurity I was barley aware of myself. But an insecurity that the Human Tumor was able to somehow detect and exploit.

For the last five or so years I’ve had this ever-evolving job working with my fellow diabetics. A job for which I have no formal training. A job for which I have no degree. A job for which I have no credential. Our world has no way of certifying or credentialing graduates of the School of Hard Knocks, this is not the age of the self-taught man. We live in a world that has no real respect for life-experience or life knowledge.

Or so I thought.

But as it turns out, many of my co-workers have great respect for me even so, as I’ve learned over the last week. Calls and emails: “come back. Come back and do what you do best.” Many have told me that if they were diabetics they’d rather learn from someone who has “been there and done that” than from someone with fancy credentials and no real-world knowledge.

The collective message: people with the Human Tumor’s credentials are a dime a dozen; but there is only one William Lee Dubois, and he is needed in the trenches where he belongs.

So right now I’m on a medical leave thanks in large part to my lioness of a wife who decided to take matters into her own hands. She heard me up late typing Friday night two weeks ago as I wrote the last post. Saturday morning while I slept she saw the comments starting to flow in—messages of sadness and support from all of you. She read the post then did something unusual for her. God bless her, she decided it was her duty to interfere.

While I was zonked out on a combination of Flexeril and Red Wine, she worked the internet. She found my medical boss’s home number and called. He was away at a retreat. She talked to his wife and found out where the retreat was. Then she (after whittling down a list of 470 persons in the U.S. with this name) called the host and convinced him to get my boss on the phone. “This is a medical emergency,” she told him.

The upshot of that was after reading my blog, I wasn’t fired (surprise!); nor was I permitted to drop to half time as I requested to maintain my health benefits. Instead, I was given a two week paid medical leave to try to sort out my body, mind, and soul. My boss told me he regarded it as a work place injury of sorts.

So that was Monday, almost two weeks ago. I saw some patients and cleaned my office so it would look nice to come back to.

Tuesday, not knowing where to start, or exactly what I was even trying to do, I drank, watched DVDs, and slept. Not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, my mother called at 10am, while I was still in bed sleeping, and the phone scared the hell out of me and one of the cats, who was sleeping next to me. It was the first time I had ever seen a cat levitate. The intruding ring startled me so much that my back seized up.

After more muscle relaxants, pain pills, and putting my back brace on again, I sat at my desk and pondered where my life was at, where it was going. Debbie, who’s been with me nearly a quarter of a century, stated quite emphatically that, except for the last few months when the problems began, my work at the clinic made me happier than anything else I’ve ever done. By far. She was afraid I was throwing out the baby with the bath water. Maybe so.

It seemed to me that my goal for my medical leave should be to prevent my own impending nervous breakdown.

I called and left a message with a Medical Massage person that had been recommended and left a second message for a “brain mechanic” I have high regard for. The blood sugar part of the equation would need to wait; I had to remove the barriers fatigue, paranoia, stress, and pain before I can get that back on track. Then I focused on my ongoing identity crisis as a place to start.

So what do I do? I started a list with pen and paper.

I educate. I guide. I communicate. I advocate. I inspire. I empower. I heal.

What are the tools that I use to do that?

Knowledge. Empathy. Humanity. Acceptance. Kindness. Compassion. I use technology and analogy. Speaking and writing.

So what are the titles of people who do the various things I do? What is the recipe that makes up me?

A dash of Professor. A sprinkle of Doctor. A little bit of Nurse. Part Coach. Part Sociologist. And Economist. Anthropologist. Councilor. Ambassador. Social Worker. Priest. Scientist. Investigator. Pharmacist. Exercise Physiologist. Translator. Linguist. Dietitian. Psychologist. Trainer. Analyst. Sleuth. Researcher. And God help me, a little bit of Guru.

But that doesn’t fit onto a business card.

Next time: new career or new business card?


Blogger Zazzy said...

Dear Will,
I'm glad that there turned out to be support and appreciation at your job. I think you do a lot of important things for a group of people who, it seems to me, normally do not get the education, support, assistance, and guru-ness that they need. I've seen many people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who are told to not eat white bread and pasta and take this pill - and that's it.

As for your business card... I spent 20 years as a psychotherapist. Sometimes I was a coach, an economist, a translator of doctor-speak, an educator, a mediator, a nutritionist, etc. That's what the helping professions ARE. You wear a lot of different hats and most of those hats don't have any formal training. Yes, sometimes there are people out there that only look at the letters behind your name. That's too bad for them.

BTW, in the years I spent between starting practice and meeting the then new licensing credentials, I used to refer to myself as a UPC... an unlicensed professional counselor. I was awfully tempted to put it on my business cards!

2:47 PM  
Blogger meanderings said...

I really believe that the people you work with will learn more with you than they would with a degreed professional.
In the same way that so many of us feel comfortable talking to our blogging d-friends, you are their friend when you're teaching them.
I also think they're more apt to be more honest with you than THE doctor.
I'm glad things are working out - hugs to your wife!

4:42 PM  
Blogger Bob Fenton said...


You need to thank your wife. Although I normally have had a title to put on a business card, and was required by one employer to carry them, I always preferred not to have them.

In an unusual situation one day, someone asked asked my title. All that I responded was Jack of all trades and master of none. It worked that time, but I don't recommend it. Having given some thought to the subject, Diabetes Counselor sounds about right for an author of books about diabetes and generally what you need to accomplish.

Good luck and keep a positive attitude.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Val said...

I thought I left a comment yesterday but...

My business card suggestion was "William Dubois, Diabetes Hacker" - hacker in that you try a little of everything to get things to work, regardless of titles/rules : )

6:55 AM  
Blogger Mary C. said...

I think Bob was close. I suggest Diabetic Counselor. It's you to a T!

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Printcrafter said...

So you all know; our in-house PhD Behavioral Health Counselor is very vocal about using "counselor" except in her ball park.


8:12 PM  
Blogger Mary C. said...

Well, if "counselor" has baggage (and what counselor doesn't), then get out the thesaurus and find something else. What about "mentor"?

7:24 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love this post Wil, and am happy to hear that there is so much support for you at the clinic (which I KNEW there was - you're such a great guy, and such a help to so many. How could there NOT be a great movement of support?!).

Life takes us in many interesting directions. You know that better than I do, I suppose. But I am very confident that you will win from all of this. I don't me "win" as in triumph over HT (but that would be nice too), but rather, that you will find yourself in a beneficial spot when it is all said and done.

7:07 PM  

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