Today is World Diabetes Day, the day to wear blue, form human circles, exchange postcards, light up monuments, and raise diabetes awareness to a new level, reaching more people than ever before. I’m very excited by that idea.
But what does World Diabetes Day really mean to me? Two years ago, I was completely unaware of Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day. So what kind of an impact could it really have for me today? In a word: validation.
Until the last year and a half or so, I lived my life like so many others with our condition. I lived in the shadows of the healthcare system, not aware of anyone else with diabetes. I knew that many were diagnosed each year with Type 1 and Type 2, but I couldn’t connect the dots. I was just trying to survive the quarterly A1c battle, trying not to worry about complications, just hoping that things didn’t get worse.
Like so many others, I was living on this D island where my focus was inward. It was as if I was the only one living with diabetes. I had no concept of a bigger world where People With Diabetes thrive. In my life, there was no concept of newer therapies, updated guidance on nutrition, better drugs, or more information of any kind. And I had completely forgotten about others out there like me. In fact, I didn’t give them much thought unless I read about another celebrity or athlete newly diagnosed. I had resigned myself to the idea that diabetes was my life, it was my problem, I had to deal with it, alone, and no one else really gave a crap about it.
Let me tell you, that’s a lonely place. For some, it’s a really, really, really lonely place. I’ve been spending most of the last year and a half digging myself out of that hole.
I started by doing a Google search for “Diabetes Blogs”, and discovered the Diabetes Online Community. Shortly after that, I read about everything that happens in November and on World Diabetes Day. Slowly, I started to remember that we are a big group. A large group, a humongous group that includes PWDs, their families, healthcare professionals, insurance companies, device manufacturers, and government officials. Instead of living in a D bubble, I started to realize that we are all affected by diabetes. Everyone.
That’s where the validation part comes in. World Diabetes Day is a day to shine a light on our cause. And it’s a way to remind us all that we are not alone. We do not exist in a vacuum. There are 360 million of us living with diabetes, and we deserve to be talked about and written about and spotlighted, even if just for a day. For me, right now, it’s very powerful and uplifting to know that I’m part of a larger group that believes in a better life for all of us cursed by diabetes. I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone fighting for more recognition and a better tomorrow.
I wish that we were a group of none, that we had the cure so many of us long for. But in the absence of that, it’s nice to be reminded that my cause is worth remembering, and worth fighting for.
Here’s hoping your day is full of validation and hope.