My reasons for sharing my story of a life with type 1 diabetes were few, but definitive: I felt alone. I wanted to feel less alone, because the whole “feeling alone” thing was wrecking some havoc on my emotional health. I didn’t have many peers, in my life, who were living with diabetes, and the Internet offered very little in terms of support back in 2005. At best, I could befriend the stock photography images of “people with diabetes” and at worst, I found little comfort in the list of reasons why life would be complicated, and compromised, found in my Google search returns. After almost twenty years of life with diabetes, I really needed a community to make me feel whole.
Diabetes can create as many mental hurdles as it does physical ones, which is why diabetes and emotional health is my “itch.” Peer-to-peer support is one of the most crucial elements in my diabetes self-care arsenal. I did diabetes for about a decade without access to people who understood the minutiae of it all and I didn’t realize the void that existed until it was filled. Connecting with those first kindred spirits – Scott, Violet, and Tek, in particular – cracked my world open and showed me that I was going to be okay and in the moments when I wasn’t as okay, I wouldn’t go it alone.
As I’ve written before, you can have access to all the best doctors and all the best technology but it’s all shit unless you’re in the right head space to make proper use of it. Insulin that remains unbolused is useless. Dexcom receivers don’t do any good shoved in a drawer. The accuracy of glucose meters doesn’t matter if you don’t ever check your blood sugar.
The best laid plans of (NOD?) mice and men often go awry if you won’t engage in the self-care necessary for pursuing, and maintaining, good health.
So what’s my advocacy itch? Hell, I’ve written about this for nine years – advocating for peer-to-peer support for people with diabetes. Fostering community. Being part of something that makes the isolation and fear of diabetes succumb to the possibility, and to the hope.
It’s as big as the Spare a Rose campaign and as small as a phone call with a newly-diagnosed friend who needs support.
Will this kind of advocacy change the world? Perhaps not. But it’s not about changing the whole world. It’s not about page views or stat counts or any of that bullshit. It’s about being there for one another and taking care of one another. Losing sight of that means losing so much of what makes our community truly awesome (like ‘100 billion hot dogs‘ kind of awesome). Being part of a global movement to raise awareness for diabetes has been life-changing, and life-saving, for me, and I know for many others. Even if we don’t see the direct influence of our collective community in clear and quantifiable ways, know that it is changing lives.
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It’s Diabetes Blog Week, and this entry is for the “Change the World” topic. For more on Diabetes Blog Week, including participants and topics, click on the respective links. It’s not too late to join in the fun – jump in now!