A couple days ago I joined another online community dedicated to diabetes: Tu Diabetes. It seems to be a pretty good networking site – a sort of Facebook or MySpace for the diabetes community. The tag line is that the site is a “place for people touched by diabetes,” so I highly recommend it to anyone out there that would like to connect with other diabetics. It is not limit to just type 1 or just type 2, or even just people with diabetes. I noticed quite a few parents of children with diabetes on there, and applaud them for taking such a strong interest in the community.
As I have perused the internet for diabetes-related information, diabetes community sites seem to crop up quite often. From Tu Diabetes to Children With Diabetes, a strong sense of community seems to be important for diabetics. There is something comforting about talking with other people with diabetes, about having that shared understanding of what daily life is like with diabetes. Together, we speak a language of blood sugars and meters and “highs and lows,” and pumps and shots and food. But underneath the technical jargon there lies a deeper understanding, an understanding of what living life with a chronic disease is like.
Rarely have I found such an empowered group. Before I came to college and started in diabetes advocacy, I knew only 1 or 2 other people with diabetes – only one of which was my age. But now, I suddenly find myself surrounded (in real life and on-line) by people who are determined to stare diabetes in the eye and come out the winner. People who don’t back down, and don’t let each other back down. There are times when I wish I had never heard the words “blood sugar” and “insulin,” but then I realize how lucky I am, and how much diabetes has changed my life.
Diabetes burn-out is real, and happens to all of us at one point or another. The thing that keeps me going through the hard times is knowing that we have a whole community out there. It may sound hokey, I know, but in some way it is true. In diabetes, there is a group of people linked by a disease and by the strength to persevere and continue through any struggles.
It is pointless for me to try to think “what if I never got diabetes.” It happened. And if it weren’t for diabetes, I would not be privileged to call myself a member of this community.