This is the seventh and final installment of Diabetes Blog Week, created by Karen over at Bitter~Sweet Diabetes. This 7th prompt: What We've Learned. Last year, Wendy of Candy Hearts made a suggestion for this year. She commented that “Day 7 should be a post about stuff we've learned from other blogs or the experience of coming together online...” So today, let’s do just that! We're writing about what we've learned from other blogs, this week or in full since finding the DOC. What's the experience of blogging been like, and what's the DOC done for you? This post could even be used to look ahead and talk about what the future holds.
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Newly-married and just after we'd moved into our first house back in 2005, I began scouring the web looking for "real stories" about people Living With Diabetes. Not just the horror stories as I'd heard my entire life or those that were covered by the media. Not the older Type 2s or the kids with diabetes, but the 20 and 30 somethings that were just living life while managing their diabetes. There had to be more people out there "like me," those longtime diabetics who "get it" and are facing the same issues and concerns as I am....
That's when I first found what was then the beginning of the Diabetes Online Community, where those adults in the same age range were out there sharing what I wanted to hear. A few bloggers and online sites existed at the time. In the years before, I'd found some forums and other sites online to share some D-stories, some focused on children or teens or even older adults, but nothing with the connection and sharing of "real D-Life" stories that I'd been searching for. Within the next year, that little network of people grew and became a lifeline.
A couple years of D-Lurking, and my own personal blogging at The Corner Booth expanded into what is now The Diabetic's Corner Booth, a place where I can share all my Highs and Lows and everything in between. Just one guy living his life while managing diabetes, good and bad. And the people in this ever-expanding community... Simply outstanding. I mean, just look at the number of bloggers - newbies and longtimers - who are participating in this. There's 100+ every day! That is totally A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
I learn something every single day.
What it's like to Live With Diabetes, rather than be owned and defined and restricted by diabetes
How others handle their diabetes and contend with complications, mild and more complicated.
I've learned you can name your pump and medical devices. The beauty of unicorns and glitter. The awesomeness of cupcakes. Terms like "glucoaster" and "What The Fructose."
I learned what it means to own my diabetes and share my story, being an advocate for others who may not have found their voice.
How I really wish I'd used my voice to be a Diabetes Advocate earlier in my life, whether it be through a local nonprofit or D-Camp or just as someone communicating about media mistakes as they happen.
I've learned how we can actually talk and get through to Pharma, establishing a relationship and influencing change - such as getting "non-perfect" BG numbers displayed on meter commercials.
That we can actually establish a dialogue with organizations like the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, getting them to talk to each other but also work with them to reach out to those who weren't always the primary focus.
My perspective on those superhero parents who act like a pancreas has expanded and I so much more appreciate what they do each and every day. I've learned that Type 2s are not all that different, because we're battling diabetes and fighting the good fight in much the same way and we all have many of the same concerns.
This past week particularly, I've seen the incredible humor and creativity of so many - just two that really stand out in my mind are D-Moms Meri at Our Diabetic Life and Reyna at Beta Buddies, who not demonstrated their MacGyverisms and song-writing but also how they're willing to explore the diabetes lives of earth worms. So totally impressive!
Those two examples highlight what I've learned from so many - that laughing can cure so many ill moods, and that humor is a great coping mechanism that allows you to develop a more positive perspective on even on the most negative and frustrating D-experiences.
But most of all?
I've learned that we all have a place in this world and we can touch people even when didn't set out to do that, and that our actions have a ripple effect on so many others - inside and outside of this community. Our passion multiplies and influences change, providing purpose and hope.
That is what I've learned from this growing community through the years, and seeing some of the work this community helps nurture - Diabetes Blog Week, Diabetes Art Day, or World Diabetes Day and the Big Blue Test - is simply astonishing. I continue learning each day from the amazing people who make this community what it is, receiving insight and support and so much more.
So far, that is what I've learned. I can't wait to see what we all learn tomorrow.