The art of diabetes management

We all know that science underpins diabetes don’t we? That billions of dollars are spent worldwide researching the causes, possible cures and treatment options for diabetes. That there are millions of scientists and health care professionals working hard in the diabetes field, far and wide, across the world. And that there is a precise science to the way people with diabetes must manage each and every day of their 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 for 32 years now and working in diabetes for a decade 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 hession 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 – were the things that kept me alive 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 just started a visual arts course at university after many years of wanting to do this. It has started me thinking more and more about the importance of the arts in our lives as human beings.

It has also started me thinking about how art could be entwined with diabetes. Hence the “art of diabetes management”.

Think about it – one of the definitions of “art” is “a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation; “the art of conversation”; “it’s quite an art”

I strongly feel that learning how to manage diabetes is a “superior skill that you learn by study and practice and obeservation” and that managing to live with this disease is “quite an art”!

Extending on this idea I started thinking about the use of art in a therapeutic sense. 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.

So it seems “art” is woven through most of our lives in some way and is directly connected to our emotions and our wellbeing.

In a more formal sense art has been used in therapy for many years and can form a powerful part of dealing with problems in our lives.

And in fact people have taken this into specific diseases and illnesses such as diabetes!

The artist in me is jumping with delight at the idea of taking diabetes management out of the science arena and into the arts!! No more mice and rabbits!!!!!!!

So to celebrate this, we at Diabetes Counselling Online are launching “The art of diabetes management” on our website in preparation for an “art exhibition” online at our site for world diabetes day on 14th November 2010

We aim to get as many people as possible to submit their “art” in any form, which tells a story about their experiences of life with diabetes.

So start your project now – it may be a photograph of something that relates to your diabetes, a painting, sculpture or drawing (take a photo so we can upload it to the site), video, ( we can load via our YouTube channel) poem, story, piece of music etc etc – whatever form of expression works for you and tells people some of the story about your or your loved ones diabetes and how you manage each and every day. We will share it on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out there too.

You can email us on to ask questions and to submit art work at any stage between now and 14th November 2010. We will soon be adding a page for this so stay tuned

The philosophy on the art of diabetes is

At moments of great enthusiasm it seems to me that no one in the world has ever made something this beautiful and important.
::: M.C. Escher :::

We are all important so share your story with the world!

Yours in art and diabetes



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