Tag Archives: Diabetes Awareness Month

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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Diabetes Awareness Month. There, I said it.

Welcome to November 1, the beginning of another Diabetes Awareness Month, culminating (oddly enough, in the middle of the month) on World Diabetes Day November 14.

I get the “I’m tired, I raise awareness all year long, every day is Diabetes Day to me”, etc. comments. People wouldn’t be saying those things if they weren’t true. But instead on focusing on all that, I thought I might take a moment and talk about a few of the nice things happening this month too.
 
 
To begin with, November marks the five year anniversary for our Champion Athletes With Diabetes program. Scores of medals awarded over the years, to athletes in multiple states, and in multiple countries on four continents.

I’m so proud of our medal winners, and I’m extremely eager to send more medals in recognition of sought-after athletic goals, large and small. CLICK HERE to find out how to get yours.
 
 
November is always a great time for #DSMA Twitter chats, and on that front, I have bad news and good news.

The bad news: No all-day #DSMA chat on World Diabetes Day. I know, bummer… but none of us has the time right now to coordinate moderators, topics, and scheduling in order to get it done. Sorry about that. Hopefully, it will be back next year.

The good news: World Diabetes Day is on a Wednesday, so we’ll be chatting for an hour anyway. In addition, I hope you’ll join me as I moderate the #DSMA chat on November 7 and November 28. Join your friends and make some new ones, Wednesday nights at 9 PM eastern time here in the USA, or whatever time that is in your counrty. Follow the @DiabetesSocMed Twitter account and the #DSMA hashtag to participate.
 
 
Finally… if you check my blogroll on this page you’ll see I’ve added a new link, to MakeDiabetesVisible.com. Created by Mike Durbin, it’s a place designed to curate things associated with the #MakeDiabetesVisible hashtag. Here’s the challenge, from Mike himself:

“I invite all of my friends living with any type of diabetes to join me in this challenge. 30 days, 30 photos, ALL types of diabetes. Any social media platform. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much we could all say about life with diabetes in 30 days.

Please share, use the hashtag, and let’s #MakeDiabetesVisible”

Are you in? I am! Let’s #MakeDiabetesVisible in November!
 
 
So… what are you following, participating in, or initiating this month? Please share here!

Advocacy with a little “a”.

#DAM
#NDAM
#T1DLookLikeMe
#WDD
#WDD17

However you hashtag it, Diabetes Awareness Month is here again. And right behind it, a feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of all the posts and blue circles and everything else that makes up November for those of us living with and affected by this disease.

Then, sometime after we get over feeling overwhelmed, we move into the feeling guilty phase, where we compare ourselves to those who seem to have all their DAM Diabetes Awareness Month shit together better than we do. Especially when it comes to advocacy.

So before this gets out of hand, let’s stop long enough to take a big breath…

I’m fond of saying this to people, and I’ll probably say it tonight when I speak in front of a group from our area. This might even come as a shock to you, but here it is:

The effects of advocacy are large…
The steps we take to practice advocacy are often very small.

Hey, I want to take on the world too, and I want to bring the diabetes awareness to the masses in ways that have never been imagined before. Will I? Not this week.

Instead, tonight, I’ll sit with my neighbor, a dietician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, in front of about 20 Lions Club members. I’ll tell them about what it’s like to have to think about every single piece of food you put in your mouth, every time you eat.

I like to call that advocacy with a little a. I won’t be presenting in front of hundreds at some symposium on another continent. I won’t be crossing the country to organize and lead a protest. Instead, I’ll be heading off to Golden Corral and sharing what I know, so the people in attendance can share my message with others.

It’s a small thing to do, this advocacy with a little a. But sharing our story with others is just as important as symposia and protests. And just as powerful.

Each of us, regardless of our education level or job status or social media profile have a story to tell. It’s our story, full of chapters that many others have written, but no one else has experienced quite the way we have. We are the authors of our own epic.

Our unique perspective on life with diabetes may be exactly what another person needs to hear. It may be the exact message they’ve been searching for. Without you sharing your story, they might not receive the message you are uniquely qualified to deliver.

So before you get overwhelmed, or heaven forbid, feel guilty about coming up short this November, remember:

It’s not a contest.

The effects of advocacy are huge.

The steps we take to practice advocacy are often very small.

Advocacy with a little a is powerful, no matter what the calendar says.

Why Diabetes Awareness Month Matters.

Saturday, November 1st marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month 2014.

I saw this video the other day, and part of it keeps coming back to me. It was when Kim Vlasnik said “My disease is not a punch line”. I’ve seen the video a few times now, and every time I hear that part I shift uncomfortably in my chair, thinking of a couple of moments in my recent past. I had shoved these memories deep inside, I thought, to the point where I didn’t think I’d be reminded of them (I’m good at sweeping these kind of things under the rug and moving on with my life). But watching that part of the video brought them to the surface again, and I’m having trouble shaking them.

One was during my workday, while I was walking outside, on my way to have lunch by the harbor. The other happened on the subway, on my way home. In both cases, a sudden low hit me hard. I wound up on the ground on Baltimore’s beautiful harbor promenade, and on the disgustingly dirty floor of a subway car, struggling to maintain consciousness, mere moments from potentially losing my life.

In both cases, no one helped or asked if I needed help. No one called 911. However, in both cases, at least two people got out their phones and started shooting video of the entire episode. People with good jobs, good clothes, and disposable income stopped what they were doing in order to commit my trauma to digital media before it was over. My medical emergency became fodder for their Facebook post or their Tweet or their ha-ha YouTube video.

In my country, about ten times more people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year than will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In October, countless media outlets help promote marathons designed to help raise money for an organization that has, according to some reports (like this one), contributed as little as 15 percent of of its donations on research awards that fund studies on everything from hard-core molecular biology to the quality of breast-cancer care for Medicaid patients. In October, the White House was lit up in pink. In October, the National Football League sells pink accessories and pink jerseys and pink who-knows-what-else and donates a portion of sales to breast cancer research. The same thing happens in May as Major League Baseball tries to get in on the action.
 
 
Meanwhile, people are using the near-death experiences of people living with diabetes as social media entertainment. I wonder how much this might change if diabetes received even one tenth of the awareness of breast cancer.
 
 
Awareness.
 
 
This is only one reason why we need Diabetes Awareness Month.
 
 
This is only one reason why we—why I—need the Diabetes Online Community.
 
 
Ignorance does not look good in pink, or blue, or any other color.
 
 
If you can’t do it for any other reason: As you take the Big Blue Test, form a human Blue Circle, or even think about performing some other measure of outreach or advocacy this November, please remember the importance of awareness.
 
 
I know I’ll get over these brief moments in my life.
But don’t allow anyone else to experience anything like this ever again.
 
 
Awareness.
 
 
This is only one reason why we need Diabetes Awareness Month.
 
 
 

Perspective.

As I sit here watching the sunrise begin another glorious day on the beach, I’m filled with… well, a sense of relaxation, really, and an inherent question about why I’m out of bed this early on my vacation.

But stay with me– there’s a point, and it has to do with…

Perspective.

I’m quite fortunate to have this one week during the year, away from work and other distractions. I know many others who never take more than two or three days off at a time during their entire working lives, unless they wind up in the hospital. In other countries, heck, in our country, sometimes people have to work seven days a week for years at a time just to get by.

I also have this insulin pump that I use (which is giving me fits right now, but stay with me), that helps me manage my diabetes easier. Some people don’t have the luxury of having a choice between pumping or multiple daily injections. It’s just the injections, IF they’re lucky enough to get coverage that will pay for part of it, and IF they can afford the astronomical costs of the things that aren’t covered.

I have access to insulin, the wonder drug which will keep me from dying from the effects of Type 1 diabetes. Many in other countries do not have such access, and lack of access to this simple potion, that’s been in existence for nearly 100 years, threatens their very existence.

I have access to this fabulous Diabetes Online Community, where a wealth of support and encouragement awaits with the simple click of a button. Yet many are left wanting for understanding and education because they are unaware or unable to discover this life-affirming element to their diabetes circle of influence.

I’ll be honest… I’ve made the most of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with. But a lot of those blessings came as a result of where I was born, and the environment into which I was born.

I’m not sure if I have a big focus for Diabetes Awareness Month (which begins November 1, by the way). But I know I would like to do something to help people who, through no fault of their own, have little to no options when it comes to diabetes care. That includes people in my own country, the USA.

It’s easy to sit and complain about things that are wrong in the world. But I never want to forget about the children, the parents, the brothers, and the sisters living with diabetes who need our help. You can find them all over. And you can help them.

If you keep your perspective.
 
 
The Big Blue Test begins October 15. For every test taken, Diabetes Hands Foundation will make a $1.00 donation to a worthy diabetes effort. For more information, go to bigbluetest.org.
 
 
 

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