It’s the 5th annual D-Blog Week! Before we get started, I also wanted to acknowledge another special anniversary: it’s the 1 year blogiversary of The Blood Sugar Whisperer! I launched TBSW last year so that I could have a space to participate in D-Blog Week without boring the readers of my other blog with all this talk about diabetes. Since then it’s been a great platform to continue sharing my thoughts and experiences about life with diabetes. It’s always nice to have a place to call your own.
Now on with the show!
Today’s prompt: Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding, or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you. (Thanks go out to Kim of Texting my Pancreas for inspiring this topic)
The longer I have had diabetes, the more I realize how much I don’t know about diabetes and I think that’s the basis for my diabetes cause: education. It’s not just diabetes misconceptions that drive my mission of educating people about diabetes. It’s the conversations I have at support groups, the observations I make on Facebook and Twitter, the personal posts that I read on blogs. All of these things have made me aware that even though we collectively have about eleventy billion years of experience with diabetes, individually we all still have so much to learn about how our own bodies work.
The cause I champion the most is education. It’s why I want to be a diabetes educator and it’s why I write about diabetes. I started writing about diabetes when I was 16 years old, so October will mark my 13 year “writeaversary.” I started writing about diabetes because there were things that I wanted to know and didn’t understand, and I believed that other people wanted to know about these things as well. I started off writing mostly about diabetes research, because it was the area of diabetes I knew the least but was the most interested in. What progress was being made? What were they doing? How was it going to change my life? I started writing about islet cell transplants and xenotransplantations, even recording a phone interview with Dr. James Shapiro on a tape recorder I borrowed from my high school.
It grew from there. I started educating teens about pumps, dealing with diabetes burnout, and staying active. It wasn’t that I was the expert, but I started meeting the experts and asking them questions (sometimes many, many questions — you should have seen Dr. Tamborlane try to explain insulin action to me using a paper napkin!).
While I, of course, love knowing more about my own disease, I also love sharing the knowledge with other people. Sometimes I’m surprised when I meet someone who hasn’t heard about this-or-that technology or medication, but I know that we have such limited time with our medical team and most of us don’t have the luxury of spending hours and hours researching diabetes.
Ignorance is an issue in the diabetes community. Not willful ignorance, but opportunity ignorance. We have a shortage of endocrinologists. We have a shortage of diabetes educators. We have a shortage of mental health experts. So many people with diabetes do not have access to the quality education, to the medication, and to the devices and the data that make life with diabetes more manageable. And in some cases people do have access to new medication or medical devices, but they don’t even know to ask for it. People don’t know what they don’t know.
We do not have a shortage of people with diabetes. I believe that it is our duty as people with diabetes (or caregivers) to help teach others about diabetes whenever possible. Many of us are fortunate to have access to excellent medical care, the finances to travel to conferences, or opportunities to visit diabetes companies. And for a few lucky ones, learning about diabetes is our job. The knowledge we gain should not just be for our benefit. It should be for the benefit of everyone.
There are so many ways we can inform and inspire people to live healthy, happy lives and it doesn’t involve going back to school to become a medical professional. From social networks like TuDiabetes and DiabetesDaily, to in-person support groups, to Facebook groups or Twitter chats, to writing your own personal blog.
We might not be certified, licensed or credentialed, but we know a thing or two.