The Diabetes World

I've come to realize just how powerful this disease is at bringing people together

Michelle Alswager BioBy Michelle Alswager

June 2012 — I had a number of different columns started for this month. None of them felt "right" to print yet. As I stared at my blank canvas (ok, ok I'm a columnist not an artist, but that was fun to write) I was thinking about my upcoming plans for the next couple of weeks. When I wrote my plans on Facebook, it truly occurred to me that very little of my life is NOT tied to the diabetes world.

Case in point. As I worked today at my "real" job that I love very much, I spent part of the day talking to an account manager, an HR manager for a fertility clinic, a former news anchor, a bank president, and a pharmaceutical representative. Were they clients of mine? Oh heck, no! More like people who are attending the Western Wisconsin JDRF Spring Gala on Saturday trying to figure out what time to get our hair done (for those of us who still have some) and what time to meet for pre-cocktails.

When I got home, I arranged to have air mattresses in my house for Friday evening to accommodate the entire band Reaul. They are opening for the band Cavo and needed a place to crash while staying here in Madison, Wisconsin. Did I meet the band because they played at one of my work events? Heck, no. They played at Jessepalooza — a rock fest I created in honor of my son Jesse, who, as most of you know, passed away from type 1 diabetes in 2010.

And after my upcoming fun-filled Reaul evening and the JDRF Gala, I will leave to go to San Diego for a great vacation. A break from the diabetes world? Heck, no! I'm doing the ADA Tour de Cure with friends I met through work who are now the morning radio talent for KSON Radio. They followed my diabetes journey and have now made it theirs. They exude passion when they speak about it on air — and off. Who else is on the team? I'll name drop them here — Jen & Bob Nicholson, parents to Trent, who passed away in 2010 from his type 1 diabetes; Ryan Maloney, who at the ripe age of 13 has already appeared in the Triabetes documentary, completed half-marathons, and is an all-around amazing athlete and leader to kids with type 1 everywhere; Anne Findlay of Team Type 1; and of course, Brian Haag, type 1 professional paddle boarder.

From the friends who do the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes and lent me the air mattresses, to the friends who moved to San Diego and are doing the Tour de Cure with me, and everyone in between — if they were not somehow connected to the diabetes world, they certainly are now. And I think of all the posts I see on Facebook or Twitter of highs, lows, races, rides, and everything else, and realize only about half of those people I know posting even have a personal connection to this disease. I am utterly amazed at the strangely positive effect this disease has had in bringing people together on a journey. It's truly something worth pondering at 2:00 AM and I can't sleep. On one hand, I would trade you all in and never know a single one of you if it would bring Jesse back. Yet, on the other hand, I can't help but think: Aren't you all a gift?

That's my point.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 06, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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