Category Archives: World Diabetes Day

Happy World Diabetes Day, Advocates. I’m looking at you.

So here we are. World Diabetes Day, 2014. And everyone’s burned out.

Sorry to throw cold water on a day when we should all be showing our true diabetes selves to the world. But hey, the burned-out part is part of our diabetes selves, isn’t it?

It is. There are also soooo-oo-ooooo many initiatives out there right now that even energetic-little-old-me is feeling overwhelmed. And that’s what I want to talk about.

Because I think there’s a difference between feeling burned out and feeling overwhelmed. Burned out is “I’ve done all these things and I’m so tired and I just can’t muster the energy for one more task”. Plus “I’m tired of doing all these things and seeing no outward result”. Completely understandable, and believe me, I’ve been there.

On the other hand, overwhelmed, to me, is “Big Blue Test”, and “Dexcom Share has been approved”, “#Vote4DM”, and “#MedicareCGM”, “Blue Circles” and “Diabetes Awareness Month” and “National Diabetes Awareness Month” and “National Diabetes Month” and “Where do I start?”. Again, I totally get it. It’s hard to keep up with everything and give 100 percent effort to all the things.

It’s even possible to feel burned out and overwhelmed at the same time. Plus, the magnitude of this month in addition to the big things people are doing has a certain way of making the rest of us (and what we’re doing) feel kind of small by comparison.
So let’s take a deep breath. Find some perspective.

Let’s acknowledge a few diabetes truths here:

– If you’re living with diabetes, or helping someone who lives with diabetes, You Are An Advocate. That’s true if you’re in your first year or your fiftieth. Or sixtieth. Or… you get the idea. Pat yourself on the back every day. You deserve it.

– If you’re telling your story by writing a blog, shooting a video, tweeting your #WalkWithD, participating in the 24 hour #WDDChat2014 today, or engaging with your diabetes brothers and sisters via Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or any other social media outlet, You Are An Advocate.

– If you’ve mentored another person living with or affected by diabetes, either online or offline, whether anyone was looking or not, guess what? You Are An Advocate. Extra points if you picked someone up who was feeling defeated by this disease.

– If you’ve ever set the record straight for someone who didn’t know better, dispelling myths and taking back your dignity, whether anyone was looking or not, guess what? You Too Are An Advocate.

If you’re living with diabetes and pursuing your athletic goals through adversity and despite the extra toll it takes on your psyche and your blood sugar, You Are An Advocate.

– If you’re a woman who has lived through both diabetes and pregnancy, You Are Most Definitely An Advocate. And Congratulations Jen and Kelley and Elizabeth.

– If you’re a Mom or a Dad who is raising a child at the same time you’re managing your diabetes, or you’re a Mom or Dad raising a child living with diabetes, gosh, I have such admiration for you, and by the way, You Are An Advocate.
There are many ways we show our advocacy, and it doesn’t always have something to do with the latest D-cause. Often, it has to do with the examples we set by living our lives with diabetes, rather than having our lives ruled by diabetes. There are no levels of deserving. You are just as worthy of my respect and admiration as anyone ever cursed by this chronic condition.

So while you rest up from your diabetes burnout and your diabetes-advocacy-event overload, remember to acknowledge the amazing ways you’re already making a difference. Write a list of your advocacy accomplishments. Look at it whenever you need a boost. If you want, you can leave a comment listing them here, either with your name or anonymously. I’ll bet when you do, you’ll find a lot to be proud of. Know that I and many others are proud of you. And grateful.

Thank You.

And please remember: I support you… no conditions.

Happy World Diabetes Day, 2013.

It’s World Diabetes Day 2013!

Thanks, and a Happy WDD to you too.

I’m very happy on a day like this, knowing that people all over the world—not just People With Diabetes, but people with all kinds of backgrounds, from every corner of the globe, are tuned into this one day designed to raise awareness and promote advocacy for our cause.

I am not happy about the reason for this day, and it is my fervent hope that we will one day look at November 14 as a day to celebrate a cure for diabetes.

Did you know that 382 million people are living with diabetes right now? The population of those living with the big D is growing in every country. Part of that is surely the fact that technology and drugs are better, so more of us are living longer, and that’s good.

But did you know that diabetes caused 5.1 million deaths this year alone? The long reach of this insidious disease is mind-blowing. Confession: When I was first diagnosed, one of the little factoids I found somewhere said that the life expectancy of the average male with diabetes in America was 59½. Ever since I read that, my goal has been to blast through that statistic and help skew it in the upward direction. More has to be done on a global scale… we must help those who don’t yet have access to the tools we have to manage diabetes.

Did you know that four out of five people diagnosed with diabetes live in what are considered low or middle income countries? Places where insulin is hard to come by, let alone refrigeration for it. For some, having a glucose meter and test strips is a pipe dream. Still others die simply from a lack of education about things like hyperglycemia, retinopathy, infections, heart problems, and other issues that are of particular concern to those of us living with this condition.

Those are the latest figures. They are taken from this year’s diabetes atlas, prepared by the International Diabetes Federation.

Take a look at how the numbers have changed in a year, and you’ll begin to see (if you haven’t already) why it is so important for us to:

1. Stay healthy – Live Well

2. Raise Awareness – Living well doesn’t mean it’s easy

3. Share our stories with others – By sharing our experiences, we become an example and help crowdsource ideas that will improve outcomes

Hey, we’re 382 million strong. Even if only a quarter of us do the three things above, we’ll know that nearly 100 million are making a difference—a positive difference—for people everywhere.

How are you telling your story today?

World Diabetes Day.

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.

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