I can’t even count the number of times I’ve written about the importance of the diabetes online community. Topic-wise, it’s one of my favorite themes to revisit.
And I’m absolutely positive as to WHY.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know other people who had diabetes. Yes, I encountered the rogue PWD here and there (as a waitress, at random airports or concerts, in my first “grown up job” after college … random places in the wild), but my mental Rolodex didn’t have insulin dependent friends in it on the regular.
I knew I wasn’t the only diabetic in the world, but sometimes it felt that way.
I remember clearly hitting “publish” on my very first blog post (almost 14 years ago) and having that feeling of hope, like I’d just cast my line out into a sea of potential PWD fish, hoping there’d be a nibble of camaraderie. And it was instant. Within a week, I’d connected with three people who also had type 1 diabetes. Within a month, I’d found about two more.
Within a decade, I’d know more people who didn’t make their own insulin than those who did.
Connecting with other people who have diabetes will never get old; and that connection is instant. If I see another person’s pump tubing sticking out of their pants pocket, or I notice they’re pricking their finger or checking a familiar CGM app on their phone, I know something about their personal life instantly. Even if I never catch their name, I have an intimate sense of what their mornings with diabetes might look like, or how often they might be on hold with an insurance company, or what the needle-spotted parts of their body might feel like. And “amazing” doesn’t begin to capture what it’s like to have those moments with a stranger.
Even more amazing is when those strangers become friends.
The diabetes community has grown beyond comprehension since I stumbled across it back in 2005, with dozens of different ways for PWD to find their niche-of-niche community. I hope the future of patient advocacy continues to shine an honest and supportive light on people with this disease, connecting them to one another so that they don’t have to do this thing alone.
I know my diabetes, my health … my life will be forever in debt to this remarkable and enormous group of people. And with a month left to my blog, I’m feeling pretty damn grateful and nostalgic.