Tag Archives: Diabetes Awareness Month

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.

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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.
 
 
 

Athlete with diabetes? You deserve an award.

Welcome to November 1st, the first day of Diabetes Awareness Month, 2013. World Diabetes Day is once again scheduled for November 14th, which is a Thursday. There will be many happenings this month, which I will do my best to keep track of over the next few weeks.

You know, every year around this time, I see blog posts and Twitter conversations filled with “What are you going to do this year for Diabetes Awareness Month or World Diabetes Day?”. And to me, that question is always kind of intimidating. I mean yeah, it’s helpful to remember that one thing at a time is important, and small changes can have a big impact. But when I hear that question this time of year, I don’t hear “What are you doing?” as much as I’m hearing “What big, gargantuan thing are you doing that will wow the masses?”.

Well, I don’t know if this will wow the masses. But it’s an idea that came to me a few weeks ago, and I’m going to try it and see if it gets any traction. If it does, great. If not, no big deal.

What am I talking about? I’m glad you asked!

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I am constantly in awe of athletes with diabetes. Not just the ones that climb Everest or run the Sahara desert. I’m also in awe of those people who get up and make a commitment to exercise, and keep going, despite how our bodies initially respond to said exercise, and in some cases, what years of insulin, and diabetes in general, does to our bodies (raising my hand here). Seriously, as an athlete prior to and after my diagnosis, I can tell you that it is waaaay more difficult to start and maintain exercise as a Person With Diabetes. It can be both scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

Yet, competing in events and going to the gym generally means you’re competing for the fun of it. No prize money, no podiums, you get the idea. Very few events give out awards or medals to anything lower than the top three finishers, if they give out anything at all. But the efforts of all of us are worthy of recognition and support. If you finish your first 5K run, if you ride your bike 50 miles, if you get up and hit the trails for a week when you haven’t gone for years, you’re a champion in my book. And I want to give you a medal.

Your effort as an Athlete With Diabetes should be recognized and rewarded.

So I had this crazy idea to see how much it would cost to have medals produced. They aren’t Olympic medals, but they turned out nicer than I thought they would. And I thought the blue ribbon was a nice touch.

Maureen and I sat around this week and came up with a few simple rules for getting your medal. You are encouraged to send a request if you are an Athlete With Diabetes, a spouse or partner of an AWD (see what I did there?), or an awesome parent of a kid Athlete With Diabetes.

1. The athlete receiving the award must be living with diabetes.

2. The athletic event must have taken place in the last six months. For now, we’re going with a pretty loose interpretation of the word “event”. If you feel you’ve accomplished something important to you, that’s an event. ‘Nuf said.

3. Send me an e-mail at champswithdiabetes@gmail.com. Tell me your name, name of the athlete (it’s okay if it’s you), and your address (gotta know where to send the medal). Most important, tell me what athletic goal was accomplished, and when. Extra points if you tell me how you felt accomplishing the goal. Full disclosure: I reserve the right to use your testimonial here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Let me know if you don’t want me to use any names.

4. When you receive your medal, you need to post a photo of it around the athlete’s neck. You can send a Tweet to @ChampsWithD (hashtag: #champdathletes) or post it on the Champion Athletes With Diabetes Facebook Page.

Those are the only rules so far, though I reserve the right to change them as this thing develops. Not to make it more restrictive. To make it more fun.

I have all of 24 medals to send out. If this idea takes off, I’ll order more. If not, we’ll all forget about it by December.

So instead of asking what big thing you’re doing this month, I’m asking: What big athletic goal did you complete? Send me your e-mail today.
 
 
 

November DSMA Blog Carnival. A Review.

Just getting this in under the wire… This month’s DSMA Blog Carnival talked about Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day, and asked the question:

What is the one thing (advocacy, grassroots) you will do different this year? How will you accomplish your task?

I saw this question after I had written the post below on November 2nd, so I’m going to show it again here and give my responses in red. Here we go…

Well, T1D Day has passed, and unfortunately, I can’t say that I have a lot to show for it. Sometimes these milestone days pass before I can make any kind of serious impact.

The good news is that it’s just the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month. That means there are a lot of things I can still do to increase awareness and help champion our cause. So what am I doing? How do you advocate for something you feel strongly about?

First, I hate the phrase “lead by example”. Only because whenever that’s used, it seems like someone is saying that leading by example is enough. Well, it is for some. Just not me, not right now. So I want to start to lead by example. That means managing the BGs well, staying as healthy as I can, and not judging others based on their success or failure of the same. This has been an uncharacteristically difficult month in terms of keeping the BG within range. Feels like a fail, but I’ve kept after it and I’m doing better now, so it’s not a total fail.

I’m also trying to keep people informed, as much as I can. There are several D-Awareness Month initiatives out there, and I’ll be letting readers of this forum know about them as much as I can. I’ve posted and tweeted about the Big Blue Test and World Diabetes Day and other things, so I can check that off of the list.

On top of that? I got my Blue Circle merchandise from the IDF/World Diabetes Day merchandise page, and I’ll be handing out blue circle pins and bracelets to practically everyone I know this month. Almost all so far are completely unaware of Diabetes Awareness Month, World Diabetes Day, or the Blue Circle. So they get a quick info session on top of the swag. I’ve already had one person ask me about the blue circle pin I’m wearing, and that’s a good thing too. This has actually worked out pretty well. People have actually asked me about both the blue bracelet and the Blue Circle pin, and I’ve been able to take my message to people that I otherwise would not have talked to about diabetes at all. Win.

Stealing an idea from someone else in the DSMA Twitter chat this past week, I’ve started to inconspicuously place D-related reading material around the workplace. This kind of thing is generally frowned upon where I work, so I have to be careful with this strategy to avoid running afowl of the people in charge. This whole idea sounds like it has an element of danger to it, which must be why I find it so appealing. Thanks to Bea at Cranky Pancreas for this idea. Don’t know if it’s helped, but people who have no connection at all with this disease are being reminded that diabetes is a real thing and it exists. Win.

Finally, you might have noticed that I’ve updated this site, at least for November. I kinda like the blue, even though red is my favorite color. I also added the photo, showing my blue circle pin and bracelet, which I’m going to try to wear all month long. I’ve worn the pin almost every day, and the bracelet has been on my wrist the entire month. And as much as I like the color red, I’m probably going to keep the blue banner at the top for a while.

Wow, when I look back and read all of that, I realize it’s probably not that much in the way of increasing awareness. But it’s a heck of a lot more than I was doing last year, which was nothing. November has just begun, and I’m still looking for more impact. Small steps have helped me do more this year, and I feel more connected with my fellow People With Diabetes than ever before. Hope your Diabetes Awareness Month has been great.

Is there anything special that you’re doing this month? If so, feel free to let me know. I’d love for everyone to hear about it.

This post is my November entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2012/november-dsma-blog-carnival-2
 
 
 

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