Admiring our differences - Monday 5/9: We are all diabetes bloggers, but we come from many different perspectives. Last year, Diabetes Blog Week opened my eyes to all of the different kinds of blogs (and bloggers) out there – Type 1s, Type 2s, LADAs, parents of kids with diabetes, spouses of adults with diabetes and so on. Today let’s talk about how great it is to learn from the perspectives of those unlike us! Have you learned new things from your T2 friends? Are D-Parents your heroes? Do LADA blogs give you insight to another diagnosis story? Do T1s who’ve lived well with diabetes since childhood give you hope? Pick a type of blogger who is different from you and tell us why they inspire you - why you admire them - why it’s great that we are all the same but different!!
I always find it amazing that for as rampant as diabetes is supposed to be in the world people don’t really understand it. Personally, I think being a Type 1 adult is much more difficult than being a Type 1 child. Maybe because people are more aware of Type 2 diabetes management and Juvenile Onset Diabetes sounds like it should only affect children. Guess what? Those Juvenile Onset Diabetics, or Type 1’s, grow up! Although in the grand scheme of things who cares how or when I got diabetes? I’m part of the club no matter what.
Growing up I didn’t know that many Type 1 diabetics. I knew the kid across the street had it but he was older than my older brother so it wasn’t like we leaned on each other for support. I knew a girl in my ward (church congregation) had it but she was also much older than me. My parents thought it was interesting that the girl used to live on our street so in a matter of about 5-10 years, three kids who lived on the same street were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I knew the people at Camp UTADA, diabetic camp. Diabetes was my thing that I basically dealt with on my own.
When I started teaching I met another teacher who was Type 1. I didn’t even know until she got her insulin pump! Then another teacher was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He was already a great guy who was as much a mentor for me as any other teacher despite the fact that we never taught the same grade. But after he was diagnosed it was like I was his new best friend because we had this medical thing in common. I remember him asking me questions. I remember telling him to see a doctor because it sounded like he had diabetes. I remember letting him talk through everything he was learning about what worked and what didn’t work for his blood sugars.
One day really stands out in my mind. I had my class in the computer lab and I was visibly tired. It was the afternoon and I was spent. Mr. Williamson walked by and caught me yawning. He got a huge smile on his face and came in to tell me my blood sugar must be high because I was tired! I remember feeling slightly annoyed because I didn’t think he had any business assuming where my blood sugar was at. Maybe I was just tired! I felt bad when I tested later and it was a little high. But Mr. Williamson was an awesome guy. I love that we could be diabetic buddies together. I love that he knew I was diabetic so he told me his symptoms and got the medical help he needed. I love that he was a skinny Type 2 because it challenged my preconceived notions of what a Type 2 diabetic was like.
Another person with Type 2 diabetes that is my greatest cheerleader is my mother in law. She tells me that I inspire her to take better care of herself. I don’t blog very often about diabetes but when I do she knows exactly what I’m talking about. She understands all the ups and downs of diabetes and she knows what it’s like to have good doctors and bad doctors. She knows what stress does to diabetes management. It’s nice to be so close to someone who gets it. My husband is absolutely amazing and understands what I go through as a diabetic better than anyone else but he isn’t diabetic. That bond between diabetics can be a really big deal. Especially on the bad days or even on a day when there’s something to celebrate about. My mother in law called me the day she found out her A1C was 5.8 or some beautiful number below 6. She had to tell me because she knew I knew what that felt like and I knew how hard that number is to achieve.
When I first met my husband he told me about a family friend who had Type 1 diabetes. She has been my hero ever since. When Heath told me that she had three healthy babies I allowed myself to dream that maybe I could have the babies I always wanted. She later went on to have a fourth, her first boy. It was nice to know an adult with Type 1 diabetes and see her living her life diabetes and all. I remember she had a year’s supply of pump supplies. Don’t ask me how she managed to do that but she did. When her pump died she was sick thinking about all the pump supplies that Mini Med wouldn’t take back. Heath and I happened to be visiting her family in Washington and she told us this story. I had the same pump as the one she had that died. So she was grateful to be able to give someone all those supplies she couldn’t use. It was the biggest blessing to us because Heath was out of work soon after and it saved us so much money not having to order supplies from Mini Med for a full year!
I found the DOC (diabetes online community) through Twitter and am grateful to know of other adult Type 1 diabetics. These people inspire me to be a better diabetic. After finding the DOC I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. While I have known other diabetics in my life it still felt like it was my thing to handle alone. Now I realize I have brothers and sisters in the DOC and we all belong to the same club! I have learned a lot about diabetes from reading their blogs and I appreciate the way they accept all types of diabetics with open arms. It’s nice to know that perfect strangers have my back just as much as my friends and family do.
Diabetes is an interesting disease, condition, whatever you want to call it. There are a lot of misconceptions about it but in the end, we’re all in it together. Type 1’s, Type 2’s, family members of diabetics, LADA, and gestational diabetics. We’re all in it together. In the words of a Camp UTADA cheer:
Eberhardt, Humulin, Pork, and Novalin
We have diabetes and we know we’re gonna win! Yay!