Last year I was new to Diabetes and World Diabetes Day. However, this day changed everything for me.
In June of 2009, I had become very ill; and while I really liked the fact that I could eat whatever I wanted and still lose a pound each day AND I didn’t have to wear my glasses because my vision corrected for some strange reason, I was still, very ill. After some blood work had been drawn I was told I had diabetes, Type II Diabetes. My Dr. said it very slowly and deliberately. He said it and then sat quietly, letting me take it all in. Which I didn’t understand. . I mean, ok, so I go on a diet and I’ll be fine right?
Over the next few months I learned everything I could about diabetes. I looked at every medical website out there. . Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Magazines, books, cookbooks, and then I found it. . the Diabetic Online Community.
My first venture into this new electronic community was dlife.com. I registered, read some of the forums, looked through the recipes and started writing a little bit of a blog. Instantly, I had people “friending” me, posting encouragement, answering my questions and generally cheering me on. Then I found TuDiabetes.com, Diabetic Rockstar, and on and on. I was already on Twitter, but didn’t realize you could use hashtags to find information. I tried #diabetes and everything changed.
I saw there were some people who seemed to post more often than others. They were so encouraging & seemed to really know what they were talking about and they posted links to blogs. . LOTS OF BLOGS. I started reading and following and commenting and before I knew it, I too, had a blog. I didn’t realize that there weren’t many Type II bloggers out there. . so, this did make me stand out in the crowd a bit.
Then it was November and World Diabetes Day. I wanted to be part of something big. I wanted to stand side-by-side with others that understood my daily ups and downs (literally) to bring awareness and education. I participated in the Big Blue Test proudly posting my BG reading of 197, exercising 14 minutes and then posting my BG of 136 WOW! That was the first time I’d ever seen what exercise can do for your BG!
Then, the biggest honor ever! @Diabetic_Iz_Me, whom I had followed on several sites and who seemed to be quite a diabetes celebrity, invited me to a luncheon at which she would be speaking. She had also invited a few other bloggers, just like me. The minute I walked in the room, I felt as though I was the Diabetes Celebrity. I was immediately greeted with hugs and laughter and squeals of delight as we all realized that our favorite bloggers had such beautiful faces as well as thoughts and words. In person. . we’re really meeting each other in person!
I could never have imagined the friendship, care and support that came out of that one luncheon. All of us attending that day have remained in touch and have made an effort to get together whenever possible. These wonderful people understand what it feels like to be panicking, shaking, sweating with BG of 40. They know the thick-headed exhaustion that comes with a BG of 300. They know how to talk me off the ledge when I’m worried, scared or blaming myself for another high because I miscalculated my insulin dose. They celebrate a low A1c as well as help celebrate a diaversary with chocolate lava cake. (They’ve even come up with words like “diaversary”).
I saw World Diabetes Day as an opportunity to bring Diabetes Awareness to my friends, family and neighbors. I put blue lightbulbs in my porch lights, made diabetes awareness ribbons, talked to everyone who’d listen and tweeted like crazy. I was amazed that as I posted pictures of my front porch lights, many others, from all over the US, posted that they were now going to change their porch lights for WDD too. I started something? Well, why not me. . . .
So, now, I have been correctly diagnosed with Type 1, LADA. My task of bringing awareness seems larger this year. No one, it seems, has heard of LADA. I constantly have this crazy conversation, even with nurses and other medical professionals:
Me: I have Type 1
Them: Oh, so you had it since you were a kid?
Me: No, just a year.
Them: But, you’re older, so you have Type II. Type I is JUVENILE diabetes.
Me: I politely explain LADA(adults with “juvenile” diabetes), MODY (children with insulin resistance) and that age has nothing to do with it anymore and that’s why we now use the Type I or II diagnosis.
Them: I still don’t get it. . you’re old. Oh, I’m so sorry, you have the bad kind.
As if there’s a good kind of diabetes to have.
I don’t know what I’ll do this year. I’ll still change the light bulbs, paint my fingernails like @JamieH did, make awareness ribbons like @stickysweetmom did, but this year. . perhaps I’ll find a newbie, much like I was last year, and help them along the way as my new friends have done for me. I’ll send a quick note to let them know I’m thinking of them as they head off to the Endo; a poke on Facebook; a tweet and a shout out. Hopefully, they’ll experience the same sort of community and friendship I’ve found. I’ll also submit my story to a few websites for LADA awareness, it’s the least I can do. . you know. . to say, hey, I get it, I’m there too. . let’s hold hands and get through this together.
Let me know what your plans are for WDD. How will you bring awareness to your world?