Friday, January 22, 2010

Advocating

We all need mentors. People we look up to. Those who inspire us in some small or big way, sometimes even in the little fact that we share something in common that makes all the differences pale in comparison.

I've had my share growing up. Journalism teacher in high school. Journalism advisor and mentor in college, and post-graduate life. Fellow journalists turned friends who taught me the real-life ins and outs of doing this profession the way My mom, who taught me how to live with diabetes even if I didn't always listen to those lessons earlier in life. Dad who taught me how to do my best, sign my name to something, and be a good man who can stand on his own two feet. My wife, who teaches me to Calm Down and gives me the ability to Live, Laugh, Love a little each day. There's many, as you can see.

But it dawns on me that I've not truly embraced my Inner Advocate. In the newspaper world, I've participated in a few workshops or panels through the years to share the lessons of journalism. In my neighborhood, I've been active and coordinated a Neighborhood Watch program for the past four years, and also been an active participant in our HOA and worked with the larger community on various issues. But as far as Diabetes, my advocacy has yet to take shape.

This was one of my 2010 New Year's goals. Maybe, now is the time.

Recently, I've started trying to hook up with any existing D-Support Groups in the Indianapolis area. There isn't much in the immediate area, or through my endo's office that deals mostly with Type 2s, but there is more available on the northside of Indy (about 30 minutes from where I live). It's mostly pediatric, but it's a start. The JDRF support group meets once every other month, but there's a chance it might become a more frequent happening as more get involved. We'll see.

I am also getting more involved in the JDRF Advocacy efforts, and will likely soon start working to score meetings with our Indiana federal legislators about diabetes issues, through the Promise to Remember Me Campaign and other avenues. Had a conference call Thursday night, which offered some good insight into what others are doing.

Of course, one of the more exciting things locally I've become a part of recently involves the creative enterprising spirit of two D-Parents, James and Lynn Jordan. Attending a meeting on Wednesday on the northside of Indianapolis, I was able to meet them and a small group of D-Parents who are experiencing this rollercoaster ride through their children's diabetes. The Jordans are parents of a 13-year-old who's been diabetic for 10 years. They are in the business technology field, and he's an IT guy who's been working on that side of health care for years. Basically, they're developing a web-based portal through their business Strategic Data Management, which will help diabetics better track their data and share it with their docs. At the moment, it's child-focused, but that can change as it's flushed out and developed. I'm excited to be a part of this and help it develop, and maybe even use my journalism experience to help get the word out.

While there, we talked about D-Life in the 80s and 90s. How things were so much more different than they are today. Back in my day, pumps weren't mistaken for cell phones or iPods. Pumps weren't common, but of course neither were injections. Camp was a topic, and though I went as a child, I've never gone back to volunteer my own time. That's something I would like to remedy, and will investigate the possibilities in the Indianapolis area.

There were about seven of us at this recent meeting, and I was the only Type 1 adult there. Great people. Lots of stories to share. Met this one woman, who's the mother of a 7-year-old daughter diagnosed about a year ago. In talking to her, I felt a connection that I really wanted to offer all the help I possibly could. You could see the fear in her eyes, especially with talk of unexpected night-time lows. The unpredictability of diabetes. Uncertainty about her daughter being able to do a sleepover with friends. We talked for some time, and I suggested she check out various aspects of the Diabetes Online Community, such as JDRF's Juvenation and TuDiabetes.org. She hadn't heard of either, but seemed interested in looking.

It all really hit home, and made me think even more about what I've done (or not done) in my life as a Diabetic. Sure, as a kid I participated in the JDF Walks and Rides for a Cure, and raised money and even carried that on through college. Even volunteered some doing clerical work and event coordination. But that's about it. Up until the 2009 Promise Gala in Indianapolis, where Suzi and I attended and were really struck by the good work happening. It's the first real D-event I've been a part of since moving to Indiana in 2004. It was inspirational. That also paved the way to my getting more involved with the Diabetes Online Community, which has been a light in itself and shown how important advocacy really is. Now, I draw inspiration and take lessons from those like Kerri, George, Kelly, Lee Ann, Crystal, RachelSarah, Scott, Shannon, and everyone I've met through the JDRF. Like them, I want to offer whatever help is possible - in practical advice, but also in simply showing that you can live a full, active, productive life as a Type 1.

So, while the blogging will continue here at The Corner Booth, it's time to also let the D-Advocacy begin. Maybe I can help give back something that so many mentors in my life have given to me.

4 comments:

Scott said...

Mike,

That is a great post. Feeling like that myself since I've actually met some folks since WDD

Crystal said...

Fantastic. Wishing you the best in all this. It's fabulous to volunteer, be a part of something bigger. I need to get back to it. I've been slacking due to a fall out with my local ADA. :-(

Scott said...

The value of involvement extends well beyond philanthropy; its also immensely rewarding on a personal level.

Shannon said...

Not sure how I missed this one, but it's a fantastic post. I spent many years as a volunteer for the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team. It was hard work, but so rewarding.

I hope that through blogging, we are all helping those who might not have the support they need. While I mostly blog for myself, knowing that others draw inspiration from it is truly humbling and amazing.

I absolutely love the camaraderie that exists in the DOC.