Both iconic and ironic

November 28, 2013

This is the first of three blog posts I have been asked to write reflecting on the period from April this year when I was told I had type II Diabetes.  Since then I have lost 10″ around my waist, lost 25kg and got my fitness back to a level I last experienced in the 1970s.  By the time I had my first follow up blood tests at the start of July all blood levels were normal, including a reversal of a long standing high cholesterol problem.  I've got another 2″ and 10kg to go and have now run out of old clothes saved so I having to buy new which is providing a short term boom in Rohan online sales.  I also realise (and have been told) that I am becoming a weight loss and fitness bore but I confess to being unrepentant.

Now there is a irony in this diagnosis in that one of the iconic programmes I ran after leaving IBM was to look at moving an Australian aboriginal community back to a bush tucker diet both to prevent, and reverse Type II Diabetes.  More recently the programme of projects using SenseMaker® with Ohio State University has been focused on Diabetes and stroke prevention.  I watched a video of my first presentation there a few days ago and was aware for the first time of just how obese I had become.  The human capacity for disillusionment, helped by a Singapore tailor and black clothing should not be underestimated.

The good aspect of all of this is that when I was diagnosed I already knew something about the subject and more over I knew that many people thought the condition could be reversed. That made a big difference as my first reaction was not resignation but rebellion.  Talking with professionals since it appears that diagnostic tends to produce one or other reaction.   Luckily it turned out, as I said to my Doctor the other day probably  the best diagnosis I have ever had and it may have been reversed but I will know more on that in December with the next set of tests.

Of course travel produces unhealthy living and the temptation on arriving late at night in a hotel to have the burger was always high.   I also thought that when I was put on medication for cholesterol reduction that I could indulge my liking for ice-cream which of course just made matters worse.  Eating while traveling remains a significant problem.   It is not infrequent to end up at a hotel where there is literally nothing that is safe to eat.  It is also all to common to be told that something is diabetic safe by a chef when you know it is not.   We really need a supply side education programme as much as self-education and some sort of shame and labelling programme.

 It probably helped that I got the diagnosis by email I was walking around a concentration camp and had reached the point where people were selected for the gas chamber or forced labour.  It gave me a sense of perspective that made it easier to absorb the information.  It also helped that I went public pretty soon afterwards as that increased the social pressure, I found a lot of good friends also had diabetes but were ashamed of it and thus faced social pressure to eat (or drink) the wrong things.

Tomorrow I will talk about what I did, then in the final post I will talk about where all of this is going with SenseMaker® and Cognitive Edge as its personal this time.


Pictures in this series courtesy of the Diabetes Public Health Resource page

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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