Tag Archives: diabetes support

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.

My Ideal Diabetes Support Group

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This month’s DSMA Blog Carnival Topic is: “Describe your ideal diabetes “support group”? What would you discuss?”

Well, I’d be happy to tell you.  My ideal diabetes support group meets once a week.  That’s a tall order isn’t it?  But that’s what I would like.  Frequent “support”.  There would be plenty of members so that if half of the group can’t show, there is still a group to meet and carry on.

Also, I would like any type of diabetic because that way, we could all become friends and defend each other against the media’s war between the diabetics and spread our ideals all over the land, causing no more arguing between the types ever again!  Muahahaha!

Next, I’d like us to all exchange numbers and emails and facebook and twitter handles.  I’d like us all to know we can interact later on the DOC as much or as little as we’d like.

My ideal support group would discuss any and all issues brought up by the members of the group.  Why not?  If we are going to talk about something R rated, we can definitely decide to do so on a pre-established day so those who don’t want to discuss that topic don’t go or meet up at a coffee shop to talk other things.

I think it’s ok to get into groups by “type of diabetic” in order to get down to the technical nitty gritty aspects of living with type 1, 2, and so on.  It’s true that a type 1 doesn’t know what it’s like for a type 2 and a type 2 doesn’t know what it’s like for a type 1 so it makes sense if people want to divide up in order to discuss particular things.  Maybe people would want to divide up by age as well and that certainly makes sense.  I like the idea of meeting with everyone and then splitting up to talk about certain things like motherhood and diabetes or dating and diabetes and therefore specific groups forming for that.

Overall, we’d be a support group utopia!  How does that sound?

Today is Friday so we’re supposed to talk about something that involves self love.  Getting support is TOTALLY an important part of loving yourself.  If you are able to, check out a local support group!  If there isn’t one, consider starting one!  And if those aren’t options, join the diabetes online community!  Check out DSMA and all the support it offers.  Oh and read more entries like this one.

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend!

D-Blog Day 2011

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The blog topic for this year is: Why you feel the Diabetes Online Community is so important? especially to you personally? Give examples of other diabetes involvement may you have, on or offline, how it helped you etc… How do you think “we” as an online community can band together to reach broader audiences to help even more people living with or affected by diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that requires more management from the patient, than the doctor.  It would be impossible for me to call my doctor 15 times a day and have him help me make decisions on how and what to eat and how much insulin to give and when to give it.  I have to be able to do all that.  Because of this fact, diabetes puts an immense amount of responsibilities on the person who has it.  Out in the workforce, jobs with more responsibility typically pay more.  Diabetes doesn’t pay and it doesn’t necessarily play fair.  One can keep rather good diabetes control and still succumb to complications.

So due to all the above, a long term stress management solution and support system is in order.  One important aspect to that would be a community of people who listen to and support each other through their unique struggle.  The Diabetes Online Community gives people with diabetes a place to constantly connect and relate and get support and feedback.

For me personally, the DOC has been an amazing learning experience.  When other people share what works for them, I pay attention.  Every time I get feedback on a post, I am educated.  When others express different opinions, my mind is opened.  When it comes to my thirst to always learn more, the DOC is priceless and irreplaceable.

And then there are the people with diabetes I’ve had the pleasure to get to know.  It’s been so great to find friends who I can relate to AND who get what I’m going through.  I only wish we all lived closer to each other.  If computers died, I’d snail mail you all.

I think that we as an online community can reach more people by doing a lot of what we have been doing.  I think we need to walk the walk as much as possible.  We need to try and keep an open mind and avoid assumptions about each other.  We need to be bold and step out into our communities if we can.  Something I plan to do when my children are older is get involved offline and help those who are perhaps unable to get online much.  We can all do something to help, it just means recognizing our individual gifts and using them.  So many people in the DOC do just that, and it’s incredibly inspiring.

What Would We Do Without Them

 

Art by Ana Morales

 

My friend Reyna and parent of a child with type 1 diabetes wrote a short post yesterday about “Teamwork” illustrating how type 1 diabetes is a “family affair”-she is so right, it IS a family affair.  Thank goodness for our “type 3’s” who help carry the load.

The other night I was hit by surprise nausea.  I tested and saw a 95 on the meter.  I started feeling worse and worse by the second and knew that my blood sugar was most likely going to go lower.  Alex brought me 8 oz. of juice and 15 minutes later I was 93.

I felt that this nausea was going to end soon and crawled myself from the bed to in front of the toilet bowl, thankful that I had just cleaned it to a nice white sparkle.  Alex helped me clip my hair up and rubbed my back.  Dinner of salad greens and chicken was revisited.  Alex had the glucagon nearby- just in case and had glucose tablets and my meter ready.  Once I felt better I brushed my teeth, had a few glucose tabs, and got back in bed.

And later as I drifted off to sleep, thought about how I felt safe, knowing someone was looking out for me.

Thank goodness for our type 3’s.

Maybe Sometimes We Feel Afraid, But Its Alright

By Ana Morales

Untitled by Ana Morales

This summer, I enrolled in a 5-week online class to lighten my load during the school year. It was a 3-credit health class that basically focused on individual and community wellness and I enjoyed it for the most part and did really well. However, I frequently felt sad, upset, and scared as I read the book, which might seem weird, or maybe that’s normal for someone in my situation, I don’t know. I mean, as a Type 1 diabetic, I know what other health problems I’m at risk for, but something about the combination of the rapid pace, subject, and timing of the class temporarily overwhelmed me.

I was diagnosed when I was 3, and I remember that when I was in elementary school and even middle school, I never really understood the complications of diabetes besides the immediate or near future ones. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned this disease we have affects our whole body and puts us at a higher risk for what seems like every other health problem. That’s a really scary thought and you’d think it would be a big enough reason to not mess around…

The past few years though, I admit I’ve struggled with diabetes more than at any other point in my life. It’s definitely not pleasant at all, and as an extremely emotional person it has taken quite a toll on me, and the ones close to me are witnesses. The book I read for my health class seemed to go on and on about all the things that could go wrong with me because of diabetes and it almost made me feel hopeless sometimes because it just seems impossible to avoid those things… I even read about how gum disease is an early complication of diabetes and then a few days later at my dentist appointment, my dentist told me my gums need to be healthier because I’m already at a higher risk for gum disease. Sigh..I just can’t escape it.

Diabetes Art Day 2010 by Ana Morales

Fortunately for me, I have a sister who is in the same boat as me and is great at sharing info and being optimistic, a supportive family that puts my health first, and a wonderful boyfriend who took the initiative to learn about diabetes himself and never makes me feel ashamed of dealing with the disease. I know it could be so much worse and that’s what I try to remind myself of when I start to feel pessimistic. The fact that we don’t give up hope shows just how strong we are, because it takes a lot of effort to keep trying, especially with a disease that never takes a break. I wish more people acknowledged that, or even knew it. But all we can do for now is patiently educate them and hope for the best. And if today happens to be one of those pessimistic days for you, remember who or what you have that makes your life worth living, and progress from there :]

The Lonely DOC

 

I truly admire the fact that the DOC or Diabetes Online Community provides so many people with this feeling that their not alone- such a valuable thing.  There are people in the DOC however, who feel alone.  Lots of them.  Any community out there can have elements like that of a High School where the kids that have bonded hang out, support each other publicly, have a large voice, and own the right gadgets.  They don’t necessarily pay much attention to those who are more quiet or perhaps have been in the background for a while or are simply different and linger just outside the realm of the community. 

Well, I’m typically fine with feeling alone, although I’ve been catching a lot of comments in the DOC environment lately and I’ve noticed that many are lonely and not liking it.  I’m very different from most people I know so that probably has most to do with how I feel.  Yet, feeling isolated isn’t fun for anyone.  This is the sentiment many others are expressing out there.  Part of me wants to find a way to turn some focus to helping those who maybe don’t have computers/internet connections at home, who don’t think they write well (probably the math wizards), or those who don’t have the confidence to post their thoughts, feelings, and opinions online-yet who desperately seek support of some kind. 

I don’t quite know a way of doing this yet.  This site now gets thousands of visits a week and very few comments and that is fine with me.  I just hope people are getting something out of what I’m writing.  I always knew I was an “advocate” because I’m not able to shut up when I have a strong opinion in mind.  And my thoughts tend to linger on the subject of people and their rights and their wellbeing so I hope that makes me somewhat helpful in the DOC.

With this post, I hope to encourage those of you who do have the platform and confidence and writing skills to be open to figuring out ways to support the underdog or the forgotten one, or those who seem to be hiding a bit.  I understand there is this thing about “survival of the fittest” and whoever wants to join in online is allowed to do so.  Thing is, many people have certain limitations (shyness perhaps?) and diabetes can often weaken some of the fittest out there anyway.

And those of you who feel alone or ignored and who feel like you aren’t welcome by the DOC, I hope you’ll find a way to jump in or take part or even heck, start your own support group.  In time, you’ll feel more comfortable and included.

And if anyone ever wants to email me, I keep things confidential unless permitted otherwise and I won’t ignore your emails, I promise.  It’s happened to me plenty and it’s not a good feeling when so much great support is spoken of.

And if you are someone who needs a little push, a little help to start your own diabetes blog, stay tuned for my free How to Start A Diabetes Blog Series.  It may be all you need to go ahead and let your voice be heard.

Much love to all the DOC and those just outside…

XOXO,

Sysy

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