Author of the newly published Dealing with Diabetes Burnout, Ginger Vieira has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1999. The editorial director at DiabetesDaily, Vieira has a background in cognitive coaching, video blogging, record-setting competitive powerlifting, personal training, Ashtanga yoga and motivational speaking. She took some time out of her very busy schedule to dish on daily life, diabetes burnout and what she’s looking forward to.
What is your state of mind today?
A bit unmotivated – juggling a scratchy sore throat with the undying need for a nap and a very full email inbox with lots of work to do!
What three words would you use to describe who you are?
Persistent. Impatient. Prolific!
How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?
For me, diabetes definitely feeds on the Type A side of my personality. I find the more organized and clear I can be in all parts of my life, the more easily I can manage my blood sugar [levels].
What inspires you to do what you do?
You can’t step “foot” into any part of the diabetes online community (DOC) without seeing what people are struggling with. I feel a bizarre drive to understand those struggles and help find solutions. I love to share what I’ve learned in my own life with diabetes because I know I’m not the only one who has had a hundred questions about any aspect of the disease.
What do you appreciate most in your friends?
Steadiness. My closest friends are people who are very clear on what they want for their lives and who they are as people. No wishy-washy-ness.
What would you pack for your favorite vacation?
All three of my dogs…
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Oranges! Apples. Watermelon. Spinach. Carrots. Onions. Steak. Bacon. Eggs. Jell-O1 pudding. Broccoli. Cheese (Swiss and cheddar, of course). And leftovers of my homemade chili, which is delicious: lots of sautéed veggies with grass-fed beef = yum!
What is your favorite way to relieve stress?
A walk in the woods followed by a great action movie I’ve seen 700 times.
What is your idea of happiness?
At home in the woods of Vermont with my husband and our dogs, weeding in the garden, cozy on the couch – anything at home with all of them.
What do you most dislike?
Drivers who take too long to push their gas pedal at a green light.
What’s your favorite diabetes burnout tip?
Take a step back and look at what you have to deal with every day, then remind yourself that it’s actually okay to feel burnt-out now and then. Experience it. Then move through it.
What words do you try to live by?
My grandfather once said, “Some people make things happen, while others just watch.” I try to make sure I’m part of the first group.
What is your greatest fear?
Dying in a freak airplane/car accident and not getting to say goodbye to everyone I love.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I don’t skimp on good ingredients, good shoes and good computers.
On what occasion do you lie?
I often nod in agreement when doctors say things about blood sugars in type 1 diabetes that don’t really acknowledge real life with this disease. Or to the question, “What is your blood sugar in the morning?” Ha, there’s no one answer to that question… Although, now that I think about it, the last time I was asked that, I didn’t lie; I told them that was a silly question for type 1 diabetes.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
I’d make them all move to Vermont! My family is spread all over the country, but we all get along really well, so when we do get together, it’s always fun – like “up until 2 a.m. every night” kind of fun.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My grandfather was a hard worker who never stopped trying to learn new things. He was 90 years old and still trying to practice new languages!
What did you learn about while writing your book?
That there is no one example of diabetes burnout that fits everyone. Everyone’s experience, as seen in the surveyed anonymous patient answers, is so different, so personal, so specific. Everyone’s experience of diabetes is their own, and we should never judge that.
What are you looking forward to right now?
We are in the process of expanding our family. So I’m awfully excited about that!
Jessica Apple is the co-founder and editor in chief of the online diabetes lifestyle magazine A Sweet Life. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine, The Southern Review, The Bellevue Literary Review and Tablet Magazine. Apple is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
1Jell-O is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods.
© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience