We all know that science underpins diabetes don’t we? Billions of dollars are spent worldwide researching the causes, possible cures and treatment options for diabetes. There are millions of scientists and health care professionals working hard in the diabetes field, far and wide, across the world. And there is a precise science to the way people with diabetes must manage each and every day of our lives. Once you get diabetes, life revolves around numbers, graphs, counting, measuring, working things out and navigating the all the ways that daily life affects diabetes and vice versa.
This is all true and all so vital.
But is it just a science?
I am starting to think perhaps it is actually an art.
Having lived with type 1 diabetes since 1979 and working in diabetes since 2001, I know a lot about the science and maths of diabetes. At school I hated maths and was not that keen on science, except for chemistry which I saw as a sort of “art” anyway! I remember how much I dreaded getting to year 9 science where I knew they would make us dissect a rabbit (not sure they do this anywhere now!) and being in the country the boys came in with a live rabbit in a hessian bag and proceeded to kill it on the spot. At which point I took my leave and made a stand for my belief that this was not a necessary learning experience….Arts were my thing – drama, visual arts, painting, drawing, multi-media, singing, music and literature – these were the things that kept me going, and to this day, bring me much of the joy in my life. In recent years I have spent time learning to sing properly and have undertaken a number of visual arts and design courses.
I have started thinking about how art could be entwined with diabetes through the art of diabetes management.
One of the definitions of “art” is:
“a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation – such as the art of conversation, or it’s quite an art”
Learning how to manage your diabetes is most definitely a “superior skill that you learn by study and practice and observation” and managing to live with this disease is “quite an art”!
Most people have listened to their favourite piece of music or song when they want to feel relaxed, or excited, uplifted, romantic and every other emotion in between. We have all laughed, cried, been scared and engrossed in film and theatre; many people play an instrument, sing, dance, read, write or paint, in their spare time.
Art is woven through most of our lives in some way and is directly connected to your emotions and your wellbeing – helping you sort our problems out, deal with grief, change your mood, and celebrate your life. Art has been used in therapy for many years, and can form a powerful part of dealing with problems in your life. So the next time you look at the numbers on your blood glucose machine, instead of just considering the maths problems of it all, consider all of the art that has gone into your management of your health, and perhaps go bang out your favourite song, or paint a picture! It may make all the difference to how you feel about your diabetes, and your life.