This is the sixth year of Diabetes Blog Week, started by Karen over at Bitter~Sweet Diabetes. All of us diabetes bloggers are given a subject to write about each day during this week, and after we publish each day’s installment, we’ll go back and link our posts on her site. Want to know more? CLICK HERE.
Day one… here we go! Our subject today is: I can.
In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life? (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)
Well, there are a lot of things I can do. But to understand what I can do now, I think it might help to understand what I couldn’t do before.
After my diabetes diagnosis, I was unable to bring myself to check my blood glucose on a regular basis. I didn’t like poking my finger with those awful seemingly steroid-induced-spring-loaded lancing devices I used back in 1991. Plus, I admit: I didn’t like checking in public, and I was in public a lot back then. But now: I check all the time, wherever I am and whomever I’m with.
I think there were two things that made the difference for me: I stopped using long-acting insulin entirely, which meant I had to have better knowledge of where my BGs were at all times. And I realized that if I didn’t care much about my diabetes and doing what I needed to survive, how could I expect anyone else to care either?
Plus… the Diabetes Online Community helped teach me that I am worth whatever it takes to be safe and healthy, every minute of every day. I can’t begin to tell you how much that meant.
For the longest time, I was unable to talk about my diabetes openly. Part of that was the feeling that I didn’t want to be seen as “not normal” (nobody is that kind of normal anyway), part of it was that I didn’t feel very good about how I was handling my diabetes (with good reason), and part of it was I didn’t know how to talk about diabetes in general, and my diabetes specifically.
Today, while I’m still not perfect, I communicate about diabetes all the time. Whether it’s here or another website, on Twitter, at conferences, or anywhere else, I talk freely and openly about diabetes in general, and my diabetes specifically.
I think that’s mostly due to how much I’ve learned in the past few years, from so many people who are so much smarter than me. And by reading a lot. And by listening to my endocrinologist. And by participating in clinical trials. I still feel like there’s a lot that I don’t know… but knowing as much as I do right now has made me more confident when it comes to talking diabetes.
Finally… For the first 20½ years that I spent living with diabetes, I knew maybe two other people living with diabetes. I didn’t know about the Diabetes Online Community, Twitter chats, blogging, or anything patient advocacy related. It was me and my diabetes against the world.
Eventually, in 2011, I found my first diabetes blog. I found others, of course, and I saw the warmth and encouragement that came from this growing worldwide group of people. I observed their incredible bravery, their creativity, and their selfless advocacy on behalf of many who are marginalized, bankrupted, and discriminated against for no other reason than the fact that their pancreases gave up on them. I wanted to be like the people doing this amazing work. I still want to be like them.
So I started writing a blog. I went to a couple of conferences. I participated in clinical trials. I got up and spoke for everyone living with diabetes at a public workshop at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Now, I’m not only concerned with knowing as many people living with diabetes as I can. I’m also concerned with helping others, who are just finding me and my friends online, to meet as many people as they can. Doing this makes me very happy.
The answer to the I CAN question is: I can do a lot. Without the help of so many others, I might not have learned so much. With the help of so many others, my learning will never stop. And my ability to champion for others will only grow.