Guest Post: Peer Support, and Mending a Broken Heart.
Anna Floreen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six, and she lives in the Boston area with her husband and their adorable puppy dog. She’s currently working as the Community Outreach Manager for Glu and travels the country speaking at diabetes-related events. A champion for diabetes camps and peer-to-peer support, Anna works tireless to build up the diabetes community. Today, she’s sharing part of a very difficult experience that she went through a few weeks ago, involving the end of a pregnancy dream, the power of peer support, and the slow, steady process of rebuilding.
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Friends are great. Girlfriends are that, “What do you need / what are you craving” after a shitty break up who show up with ice cream and your favorite chick flick. But diabetes friends are speechless – not because they don’t say anything, but because they get it. I realize now more than ever, that those friends who have the “unspoken understanding” of diabetes matter the most to me, at least, right now anyway.
My husband and I lost a very much wanted baby girl five weeks ago – exactly at the half way point of my pregnancy. The loss was nothing diabetes-related whatsoever. It was an insanely rare congenital heart defect in which we did nothing to cause. (Trust me, the guilt of diabetes was most certainly number 1 on my brain cells for quite some time). It wasn’t however, my parents or best friend that I turned to first to share my horrible, no good, very-bad day news with; it was a peer with type 1. She knew I was pregnant before my mom (Sorry mom – I was in Vancouver), and she helped guide me through every “exit explosion” of morning sickness, the crazy low blood sugars, and all the doctor’s appointments.
She was in the next room when we were given our baby’s devastating diagnosis (she’s not a stalker; we share the same OB/GYN and endocrinologist). It seemed weird not to tell her. She waited in the parking lot after her appointment to make sure I wasn’t alone, checked in with me daily the week following my surgery. I told her, and other type 1’s about this experience first because they get it. They get what it takes to bear a pregnancy with type 1: the endless overnight beeping, juice box wrappers, and constant communication with care-team members, so of course it makes sense. We crave that feeling of belonging, we’re kindredly connected, and I kind of like that.
Weeks later, as I attempt to grasp my new reality, I’m feeling incredibly thankful to have these peers. Although I am no longer pregnant, Kerri is. And I will be that same rock and shoulder and peer to her if she needs it that she has been to me for the last whatever-the-eff months that was a pretty big blob of blur to me. I’ve learned that it takes a lot of work and homework to prepare and endure a pregnancy, but it’s a heck of a lot better when you have super awesome people to follow along with you.
Never underestimate the power of our peers … especially those with reduced pancreatic function. Sometimes we forget how grateful we are for these friendships, so go text a friend, send them a card, or take a moment to think about the positive power of a peer.
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Jumping in to confirm that Anna has been a tremendous support resource for me and my family as we’ve navigated infertility and pregnancy, and the ties that bind here are permanent. I look forward to the day that our kids hang out together at the beach and compare notes.
Thanks for trusting us with this, Anna. xo