Communities exist everywhere. Including right here at home.

I do a lot of speaking these days, formally and (mostly)informally, about our wonderful diabetes community. I talk about the support, the empowerment, the innovation, and the kindness I’ve experienced and that others encounter after getting that horrible diagnosis.

I got a chance to talk about that before another great community this week. Hadassah of Greater Baltimore is part of a larger Jewish women’s organization that, among other things, promotes the health and well-being of women. Hadassah, and Hadassah of Greater Baltimore, is a huge community of women who work tirelessly in supoort of their common causes. Sound familiar?

So it was interesting to me to see these two communities… Diabetes and Hadassah, coming together for an hour of understanding and information sharing.

I got a chance to educate the group about diabetes, of course. And as you might expect, there were a few people in the group who already have diabetes as a part of their lives. It was interesting to have them ask questions or point out some piece of technology they’re using, right before I got to the part where I discussed exactly those things.

It was also interesting to experience their genuine interest. There was a lot of discussion back and forth, many questions, and a fair amount of discussion after my talk.

This all took place about five minutes from my home. So, you might say, I attended an event in my home community, where I introduced people to my diabetes community, and I was introduced to a whole new community.

Me and my friend Linda, who introduced me to Hadassah of Greater Baltimore


In the final analysis, it went very well. When you’re passionate about your subject matter, you don’t really worry too much about how you’ll do. You just try to remember to shut up once in a while so people can speak and ask questions.

What I left the group with is what I’d like to leave you with right here. There are communities everywhere, uniting around issues important to them, and delivering a positive impact to the people they serve. Find your community, and help make a difference.

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How about Giving Every Day?

Giving Tuesday was an interesting experience this year. Never before have I encountered so many requests for money in such a short time, including four e-mail requests in the span of 27 hours from JDRF.

I don’t mind saying it felt overwhelming. I know, Facebook was matching a lot of the money donated on Tuesday, and I’m happy about that. But with extremely few exceptions, none of us has pockets deep enough to donate to every worthy diabetes cause.

And what about now? Now, now that #GivingTuesday is over? Is it okay to ignore these charities now? I don’t think so. I mean, they still have unmet needs, they still employ people, they still have a mission. Do they deserve all of our money one day, and none the next?

I think I’m getting off track here… let me bring the conversation back.

Whenever we can, we should always be about giving. I’ve personally donated to many causes this year, and I’ll probably give to one or two more by the end of December, even though, admittedly, I didn’t donate a single dime on Giving Tuesday.

Do you feel that way too? Do you think you might still be able to donate to a worthy diabetes non-profit before the end of the year? If so, let me give you a few to consider, in no order whatsoever. These organizations will be happy to handle your donation any day of the year.

Click on the link provided in the name of the organization to go to their donation page:
 
 
Life for a Child – Providing insulin and supplies to children living with diabetes in over 40 developing nations around the globe. God knows how many lives they’ve helped save.

Diabetes Sisters – What can I say about the ‘Sisters that hasn’t already been said? Great website and blog, programs to connect and educate and empower women living with diabetes wherever they are.

Children With Diabetes – CWD is the home of the Friends for Life conferences, and they also provide a tremendous amount of knowledge and support for kids, teens, adults, and families who have diabetes as a part of their lives.

Tidepool’s Big Data Donation Project – from Tidepool’s website: “The Tidepool Big Data Donation Project lets you securely and anonymously donate de-identified diabetes device data to researchers, device makers, and other innovators who deeply need it.” Best of all, YOU get to decide which non-profit benefits from sharing your data. And it doesn’t cost you anything!
 
 
Whether you give to these or any other worthy organizations, giving is good. Continued giving helps you feel good continuously. And that’s what we’re all looking for at this time of year, yes?

Holidays!

I just put the exclamation point on that headline for fun.

Let’s face it… the holidays can sometimes be less than fun. Families, things to do, gifts to buy (if we’re lucky). Also, if we’re unlucky, we have family and company and religious get-togethers, the diabetes police to deal with, and the stress that comes from focusing on blood sugar while we’re trying to focus on those we care about most this time of year.

So let’s talk about that. But let’s not just talk about this time of year… let’s talk about all the holidays.

I’ll be hosting the weekly #DSMA Twitter chat this Wednesday night. Let’s talk about all of the holidays that we celebrate through the year, and the ways they may or may not influence or be influenced by our diabetes.

The discussion will involve diabetes in some places, and in other places, just life, not specifically diabetes. Look at it as a chance to learn (or even ask) about holidays in other countries, or other cultures. Feel free to share what makes your favorite holidays great, from a diabetes and non-diabetes perspective.

Let’s take some of the stress out of, again, all the holidays, Wednesday night at 9:00 eastern time (US). To follow along, follow the @DiabetesSocMed Twitter handle and the #DSMA hashtag.

Giving Thanks

Thursday marks another Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. A day to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.

If diabetes is a part of your life, you might not think you have much to be thankful for. If that’s how you feel, that’s your decision… who am I to tell you you’re wrong?

In my case, however, I choose to stop and recognize that there is much for me to be thankful for this year, including these 8 things:

1. First and foremost, I’m thankful for a job that helps pay my bills and manages a health plan that ensures I have access to the devices and drugs that help me stay alive.

2. I’d like to give thanks to those who have provided opportunities for me to expand my knowledge or expand my advocacy efforts, and even get me involved in things I haven’t done before.

I’m including The Society for Participatory Medicine, who provided a stipend for me to attend HIMSS18 this year. Thanks to Janssen, who gave me an opportunity to meet other patient advocates at HealtheVoices. Also, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, who makes it so easy to be an advocate, and allowed me to be a part of the DPAC Policy Training Meeting in September, which included my first-ever chance to advocate before lawmakers. Count also Maryland’s Secretary of Health, who, through an appointment, allowed me to serve on the state’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness.

Thanks to Dr. Nicole Bereolos, who gave me a chance to sit on a discussion panel she led at AADE in August. That weekend included the rollout of the #LanguageMatters video from Mytonomy, which featured a number of diabetes voices, including one you may recognize. It’s been a very busy year, but a rewarding one for sure.

3. Where would I be without the Diabetes Community? Wonderful friends who are smart, funny, curious, and welcoming all at the same time. I saw diabetes friends get on a plane this year and fly across time zones to attend the funeral for a member of the tribe. Many of us got together this fall for no other reason than the fact that we missed each other and wanted to be together for a while. Thanks to everyone who was a part of these or many other wonderful moments among compatriots.

4. Along with that, I want to give thanks to our magnificent #DSMA participants throughout the year. Every Wednesday, and especially when I’ve been a moderator, they’ve made me happy and proud to facilitate the hour long Twitter discussion. For the record, I’ll be back to moderate on November 28 at 9:00 eastern time (US).

5. Thank you to other diabetes groups that help bring people together, in various ways. Diabetes Sisters, Children With Diabetes, Beyond Type 1, even JDRF… they’re all using innovative means to keep the conversation going about the things that are most important to all of us.

6. I’m giving thanks once again this year for insulin, the wonder hormone that keeps me alive every day. Thank you Banting and Best, for saving my life and the lives of millions of others.

7. I can’t let Thanksgiving come and go without giving thanks to The Great Spousal Unit and Max the Cat, who have been alternately supportive and patient throughout the year. I hope I remember to recognize my good fortune in this regard this year and every year.

8. Finally, I’m thankful to you. For reading, for following on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, for sending requests for Champion Athlete With Diabetes medals, and so much more. You make me want to keep writing here, and I can’t thank you enough.
 
 
So with that, please allow me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for today?

My voice is just the right size.

You may have noticed that this is still Diabetes Awareness Month. You may have also noticed that I haven’t exactly been blowing up social media with post after diabetes post.

There are a number of reasons for that.

I’m beginning to wind down a very busy year. I do have a few extra days off the next six weeks. But I’ve already spent more than half of my days off from work this year actually working on diabetes advocacy, and I don’t exactly want to spend a lot of my remaining days off working on something that could easily seem like a second job if I let it.

Plus, there are more than enough voices, loud voices, shouting into the air all through November. I don’t mind that at all. Also, I don’t feel the need to compete with those voices. In addition, I don’t feel the need to raise my voice and make it louder just because it’s November.

Part of my success, and part of my sanity, involves remembering that my voice is just the right size already. I’ll make it louder when necessary. But I tend to see “necessary” on a moment-by-moment basis, rather than as a scheduled month-long advocacy extravaganza.

So, at the end of a five day weekend, I can look back at about a half dozen fix-it projects completed around the house. A little extra time in the kitchen cooking. A whole lot of time listening to music. You know… the boring stuff.

Here’s the thing: the boring stuff is important to my diabetes, and to my overall health too. I like being useful, getting my hands dirty now and then. I like to be creative in the kitchen. It’s also important to take the time to be still, allowing myself to consider some of the things I haven’t paid much attention to in the past several months.

So there you have it… my “I’m glad for Diabetes Awareness Month, but I’m also over it” post. The truth is, we need Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day. But we also need diabetes efforts throughout the year, in front of medical professionals, on Capitol Hill, in the classroom, in the workplace, from voices everywhere.

There’s room, and a time, for all of those voices, whatever size they may be.

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