When Diabetes Has Company
Feeling supported, while supporting, a new diagnosis in the diabetes community.
By Deanna Glick
Seeking out community has always been part of my nature. I'm the one who talks to strangers in coffee houses, introduces myself to new neighbors before the moving truck has pulled away, and hosts impromptu happy hours on Tuesdays.
I honestly don't know how I could have gotten through my pregnancy without the diabetes community. I learned more from experienced peers in online diabetes forums than any doctor or book about diabetes and pregnancy.
Once my daughter was born, my need for community was greater than ever. But, unfortunately, those needs took me further from people with diabetes and closer to the parents of other children in the neighborhood or at my daughter's school. While we could certainly trade child care and support for the trials and tribulations of family life, none of my new friends had diabetes. Chatting about erratic blood sugars, carb counting, or my pump tubing getting pulled by or tangled up in little hands wasn't really relevant, or interesting for that matter. And intense time constraints meant I was no longer able to join the online diabetes communities I'd been a part of before.
Then, a few weeks ago, my neighbor was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Up until that time, we had shared countless glasses of wine and conversations about motherhood while the kids played on the swing set in her backyard. And now, we shared a disease. My heart broke for her. But, at the same time, delivering my food scale, books, and words of support after hearing the news added a new and welcome element to my community that had been missing since my daughter's birth.
She has become my new inspiration. I marvel at how committed to and actually enthusiastic about controlling her disease my friend has been. She's sought out new recipes and learned about low- and high-glycemic effect foods; she attends diabetes classes; she's making time for exercise by going on walks with her husband. Despite nearly 20 years of living with diabetes, my neighbor has definitely taught me something. Or, at least reminded me.
People with diabetes need each other. Mommies with diabetes need each other even more. Because we have too many things that chip away at our commitment to take care of ourselves, from paying the bills to taking our kids to school and swim class. And it's too easy to feel alone in our plight amid parents who don't have a chronic illness to care for, in addition to doing the laundry and making dinner. A diabetes community is necessary.
Thank you, my dear friend, for allowing me to feel just a little less alone.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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