Guest Post From Fran Carpentier.
Today I have the infinite pleasure and honor of hosting a guest blog from my friend Fran Carpentier. Diagnosed in 1969 with type 1 diabetes, Fran Carpentier is a devoted member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, and the American Diabetes Association. I met Fran at an advocacy event in NYC last October, and our friendship was instant.
Fran has offered up her perspective on community, pregnancy, and her almost 40 years with diabetes here at SUM:
Every now and again, I use some version of it to poke fun at my diabetes.
Here’s what I might say, for example, when describing how to change my insulin pump: “It takes a village—and all the equipment in it.” Or how I complain about the American medical system: “It takes a village—and that’s just to fill out the insurance forms.” And when I’m frustrated by the difficulties of getting comprehensive, top-of-the-line diabetes care, I have been known to swipe, “It takes a village—more like a small town’s-worth—of endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators, nutritionists, ophthalmologists, internists, podiatrists, and exercise physiologists (or a helluva savvy trainer) to raise a child who has diabetes into a healthy, long-living adult with diabetes.”
After I make my point, I generally strike the term “village” and switch to “team.” Because what anyone with diabetes really needs is a team of experts who can follow his condition over the long haul, plus a support team of family and friends to boost the diabetic’s emotional well-being.
How I joined the team—or better yet, the “community.”
In August 2008, I began blogging in “Diabetes, Day-By-Day”, and that’s when I began to understand that the online “community” (in this case, the online diabetes community) is the new “team”—and a terrific team at that.
When I sit down to “belly-ache in my blog” (which is how I refer to the physical act of blogging), I’m as mindful of what I give to my readers as I am about what I get from the entire experience. All told, it’s a chance to vent, an opportunity to share news or a few shortcuts to better diabetes control, and the surest road I know to validation, which is the best reward of all, because with validation comes peace of mind.
That’s what I got when I read Kerri’s post on Monday morning — a strong dose of validation. Kerri’s coming clean about not always wearing her continuous glucose monitor on weekends validated how I felt about wanting a break from the annoying, intrusive alarms coming from my own CGM (even though I only started wearing it last week). And hearing Kerri ’fess up that over this past weekend she didn’t make the best choices in food and exercise defused the guilt I was feeling about the larger-than-usual boluses I took in order to eat extra bread…and cookies too — shhh! (Hey, Kerri! This is not a criticism! I made myself French toast for Sunday breakfast too! It was when I decided to eat half a loaf of raisin challah for dinner that things got hairy. But that’s another story.)
There is something uniquely powerful in hearing how someone else who is “walking your walk” is managing the journey. Frankly, I am just blown away by how many people are going through the same diabetes angst that I am at any one time and how much they are doing about it.
In one of my posts last Fall, I called blogging “the ultimate group therapy.” I don’t think I could ever describe it better.
The funny thing is that when Parade.com asked me to blog about diabetes, I thought to myself, “Why would anyone care about my diabetes?” But once I began to read what other diabetes bloggers had to say, I became hooked on the idea. There is some pretty powerful “medicine” going on online (in the figurative sense, of course), and it makes me realize that just as it can take a village to raise a child, it takes a cyberspace town hall to keep all of us informed, in touch, and full of hope and even pride.
I only wish that the diabetes online community and at least two handfuls of bloggers specializing in “diabetes and pregnancy” were around when I was expecting a baby. Looking back on those nine months September 1993 through May 1994, I’m amazed that the strict regimen of a type 1 pregnancy, which essentially translated into blood checks every two hours around the clock, every day for the entire pregnancy, coupled with the facts that I was 39 years old and already had had diabetes for 25 years at the time I conceived, plus the inescapable emotional pressure (“Would my diabetes harm my baby?”) wasn’t harder than it was.
The trick to getting through it, ladies? Stand guard over your blood sugar and just keep your eye on the prize. My “prize,” Benjamin Francis Salom, was born on May 24, 1994, at a robust 7 pounds, 2 ounces and received APGAR scores of 9 and 9. Excellent blood-sugar control makes good, healthy babies. Believe it!
Remember what I wrote earlier about “getting something” from the experience of blogging? Well, remembering what I went through to have Ben just gave me a new dose of determination to master my CGM. So now, I am going to phone my Medtronic Minimed trainer before she goes to sleep and hook myself up anew to that damned yet wonderful device that’s going to help me interpret trends in my blood sugar so that I can fine tune my control.
After I do that, I am going to log onto Juvenation.org, a type 1 diabetes community created by JDRF, and click on “Diabetes and Pregnancy,” and see if I can give some hope to the terrific women I know I’ll find there who are worried that they will never be able to have healthy babies. (Of course they will!)"
Thank you so much, Fran! And for more from Fran, visit her diabetes blog, "Diabetes, Day-By-Day" at Parade.com!