Tag Archives: diabetes advocates

Advocacy On the Go

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Lately, I’ve made it a point to talk to whoever is next to me when I’m on a plane.  It’s almost like an exercise for me since I’m quite a bit reserved and introverted.  But I tried it recently and was so blown away by the experience.

Just the other day, I met a woman whose family endured the holocaust.  I talked to a little boy travelling alone who was my youngest brother’s age.  He talked about baseball like there was no tomorrow.  He was a gentleman too and helped me with my luggage!  And I met someone who has a twin and provided me with insight on how I might be sensitive to my twins while raising them.  And to every person I provided a lot of diabetes advocacy information.  I felt like a travelling diabetes advocate.  In fact, I guess we could all be in our own small way, right?

We know people are largely ignorant about diabetes so if we extend a little bit of accurate info everywhere we go we can do our part to help discourage all those myths and misconceptions out there.

What I was really excited to learn is that everyone I encountered was really eager to learn more about diabetes.  Even the 13 year old asked me, “Tell me about diabetes, I don’t know anything about it but I hear the word on the news all the time.”  They know it’s a big deal and many themselves are concerned about their own health.  Also, people are smarter than we give them credit for.

I found a great way to get diabetes in the conversation, too.  Just check blood sugar while sitting next to someone.  I only did it because I needed to but it sure worked to spark an interest in the subject.  And of course, instead of lick the blood off my finger I used a wipe.  Except for in the case of the 13 year old.  I did my usual routine and he thought it was pretty cool that I just “recycled the blood back in”.  Kids say the darnest things.

Pin A Personality!

 

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I pinned Hope Warshaw, who is a member of Diabetes Advocates and author of multiple books for people with diabetes.

 

We need people to see the blue circle and immediately think, “DIABETES”.   The more united we are under one symbol, the better outcome we’ll have in our advocacy and awareness efforts.

The International Diabetes Federation is behind this mission and are encouraging us to “Pin a Personality”

Here are the instructions straight from the IDF:

“Take a picture of a personality with the blue circle pin.

How to choose a pinable personality?

Your personality can be anyone who you think would profile our blue circle to a wider audience or contributes to IDF’s mission to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide.

Your personality could be a local celebrity, a politician, a teacher, a chef, a local councilor or your gym instructor.

Do you have anyone in mind or are you attending an event before November 14? Will you see anyone pinable? Let us know at wdd@idf.org and we will send you some blue circle pins.

Upload your photo to our World Diabetes Day Facebook page or on Twitter using #WDDPin by November 14. Don’t forget a short one liner explaining who your chosen personality is!

Let’s get the blue circle out there and recognized as the global symbol of diabetes!”

 

My blogger friend Stacey graciously pinned a few personalities because yours truly is a wee bit shy about these things…

Diabetes Sisters 2012 155Diabetes Sisters 2012 156

Dr. Nat Strand and Stacey with DiabetesSister’s Founder Brandy Barnes.

Peer to Peer Support Reigns

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My type 1 sister Ana’s diabetes themed artwork-you can probably guess what this is, right?

 

I definitely don’t think of myself as an “A1c Champion”.  I just think of myself as someone who finally stumbled upon what works and what doesn’t for myself in the realm of diabetes management because of my being excruciatingly tired of the alternative and unwilling to settle in life.

By keeping healthy and by being rather disciplined with my diabetes management, an opportunity opened up for me to interview for a program called, A1c Champions.  This program sends people with diabetes to lead discussions with other people with diabetes.  Peer to peer support is a brilliant idea and basically my motivation to start this blog in the first place.  So to be able to get out there and talk to people face to face, tell my story, and show them that it’s never too late to turn things around is like a dream come true.  I’m happy to report that I passed my three interviews and will be training later this year.

It’s a dream come true because I wish I had experienced this opportunity as a teenager with uncontrolled diabetes.  I would have loved to see someone with diabetes come talk to me about how they manage to stay healthy and how they too, have struggled.  I did have one experience like this but this woman said she always had taken great care of herself and this made me feel like I couldn’t relate to her.  I also had plenty of people try to cheer me up and motivate me but none of them had diabetes and therefore their words didn’t have the weight attached.  I didn’t feel understood and therefore it was like their words weren’t meant for me.

So to be able to talk to someone who is where I used to be and tell them that I really understand where they’re at and have been there is something I really want to do.  For the little kid inside me.  For the sake of helping others avoid the years of suffering that I recall having.  For those who don’t feel empowered about their diabetes.  For those who feel like hopeless failures.  Before the fabulous “You Can Do This” project came about I wrote one reason on my site for wanting to blog and it was, essentially, to spread the message to others with diabetes that, “You can do this!”  I think that message is extremely powerful and empowering.  And more so when coming from one’s peers.

So if you’re interested in becoming an A1c Champion, check out their website here.

And if you haven’t already participated in the “You Can Do This” Project that Kim Vlasnik launched last year, then I highly encourage you to do it now.  Do it for someone who sees themselves in you.  Or if you need the therapy, watch videos and take comfort in knowing you are definitely NOT alone.

Calling Brave Leaders to the 2011 UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases

Courtesy of Master Isolated Images

 

Other posts I have planned are being pushed for this one.  Right now this is important.  Also, cheery posts don’t feel right as a hurricane is making it’s way over and will surely cause destruction and heartache for many.  Much like diabetes.

In September the UN is holding a summit on non-communicable diseases which is to give a large push of attention and priority to the greatest killer in the world: non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

I think all would agree that prevention of these diseases needs to be a huge focus in order begin to repair, heal, and prevent further economic devastation and human suffering.  We’re heading towards a catastrophic situation where all the world’s largest economies fall under the strain of high numbers of people who are not well and require expensive treatments, when prevention would have been the most humane and affordable route.  This is not an issue of a handful of people not taking care of themselves.  We’re talking about a situation where the policies and decisions and current way of life doesn’t support people and their health nearly as much as they should.  Very persistent measures need to be drawn and committed to so that these diseases and the human suffering they cause can be treated and minimized.

Right now, influential leaders, such as our President, who are invited to attend are unable to commit to responsibilities for which we need them.  I personally don’t get why the President would attend all these honorable memorials (like for MLK) but not something this crucial.  I highly recommend you read this article by Manny Hernandez of TuDiabetes, and read this article by Riva Greenberg at the Huffington Post.  They go into better explanations of all this.

We’re all needed right now.  Present human life and well being should be respected as well as the health and economic stability of our future generations, too.  The hopeful thing about non-communicable diseases is that there is a lot we can do to lessen the blow they have on people if we get the commitment and support we need from our leaders.

Here is what you can do to help out.  Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you’ll see easy ways you can raise your voice.

None of us can escape to the Diamond Planet just yet, so let’s keep this one and it’s people healthy and moving forward.

Man or Woman in the Mirror

Photo courtesy of Healing Dream

Photo courtesy of Healing Dream

 

The most effective diabetes advocacy is how we live our lives as people with diabetes.

Years ago, after many years of bitterness and anger, I realized the best thing I could do for other people with diabetes was to take care of myself the best I could and be kind. I wondered if my example could set off a chain reaction of sorts. I hoped someone would meet me and find out I had type 1 diabetes. I hoped they might notice my gentle sincerity and my slow but sharp wit. I hoped they would think to themselves, “she has diabetes? gee, she looks healthy”. I’d tell them a little about diabetes and they would listen. I would then imagine that maybe some day when that same person was involved in a conversation about diabetes and someone said that diabetics were sick and lazy, this person who met me might say, “That’s not true, I met a type 1 diabetic who seemed really healthy and happy and explained to me that the disease is extremely difficult to manage. She told me that everyone struggles differently with it and that what helps people with diabetes is not to judge them but to encourage and support them.”

Yes, I am dreaming. But I prefer to dream big.

And of course I am committed to pushing for what people with diabetes deserve and for advocating for our rights. However, our greatest influence comes from our actions. The energy we spend on anger and frustration over other people is energy we could have spent on ourselves. And you know as well as I do, diabetes requires every ounce of energy we’ve got.

When you want to tell someone off for an ignorant comment about diabetes, stop and remember that telling them off will not help the rest of us in any way. Rude behavior will make other diabetics look bad and I for one don’t want that association. Be firm, be direct, be insistent, but be respectful. After all, we are all ignorant about something, right?

Instead of focusing on all the obstacles in your way, narrow your view to all that you CAN do. You’ll find there are so many mountains you can move.

Relax, breathe, and remember that change begins with you (and I) and the greatest inspiration we can provide others is to work hardest on the man or woman in the mirror.

The best diabetes advocate

 

The best diabetes advocate is educated about their diabetes

The best diabetes advocate is honest

The best diabetes advocate is willing to share with others

The best diabetes advocate is open and does not hide

The best diabetes advocate is aware of the thoughts and feelings of those around them

The best diabetes advocate is forthcoming with what they don’t do well

The best diabetes advocate fails

The best diabetes advocate teaches others by example

The best diabetes advocate uses a pump

The best diabetes advocate doesn’t use a pump

The best diabetes advocate has great diabetes control

The best diabetes advocate doesn’t have great diabetes control

The best diabetes advocate gets up again after falling

The best diabetes advocate is a type 1 diabetic

The best diabetes advocate is a type 1.5 diabetic

The best diabetes advocate is a type 2 diabetic

The best diabetes advocate has gestational diabetes

The best diabetes advocate has pre-diabetes

The best diabetes advocate loves someone with diabetes

The best diabetes advocate seeks continuous improvement

The best diabetes advocate keeps learning

The best diabetes advocate tests when needed

The best diabetes advocate wants to help others understand diabetes

The best diabetes advocate lends support

The best diabetes advocate seeks to end diabetes

The best diabetes advocate is YOU

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