Ten Reasons Why You Should Join a Diabetes Social Network
Why connecting with others with diabetes is so important
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
May 2009 — It's been five years since I started navigating the waters of social media. I was trying to get a feel for what others were seeing in MySpace, so I joined it and I soon joined Facebook too. Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites were part of the plethora of social media destinations I visited periodically. They all had one thing in common: they allowed me to socialize and share with others online.
Since late 2006, I have embraced social networking and diabetes like I never imagined I would. It came as the result of a burning desire to apply my love for social media to something beyond socializing. Since the start of the social network I created, more than two dozen social networks about diabetes have been launched, including the dLife Community.
I estimate the total number of people using diabetes social networks (and blogs) today to be somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000. So why are so many people joining so many online communities about diabetes? These are the reasons I have found, in no particular order:
1. Others with diabetes understand you. When you live with a chronic condition like diabetes, it can take a toll on your emotions at times. Talking about your life with diabetes with others that are living with it too goes a long way.
2. You get exposed to other diabetes management practices. Whether it is to combine this lancing device with that glucose meter or to try a new recipe that won't blow away your blood sugars, you can learn a lot from others in an online community.
3. You learn about new research and treatment alternatives. People with diabetes are constantly on the lookout for information about new devices, diabetes drugs, and promising new directions in diabetes research.
4. You get valuable tips on how to get insurance companies to "cooperate." When you get denied on your application for an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitor, diabetes social networks are packed with advice from others who have beat the system.
5. You can get answers to many of your diabetes questions. When you see your doctor every 3 - 4 months, you have to make the most of those 15 - 20 minutes. Online communities give you a place where you can get answers to many questions about your diabetes management until your next appointment.
6. You can learn about side effects. You can learn from others' experiences with the drugs or devices you use. If you are feeling the side effects of a treatment, there is a chance it may be doing the same thing to other people with diabetes. Getting the information out there helps others be informed about potential issues.
7. You can learn things your doctor may not know. For example, I was first (incorrectly) diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. My PCP didn't know about LADA, so he didn't know to test me for antibodies or C-Peptide level.
8. You can get great support through rough times. When we were afraid that our son might have diabetes, I turned to the online diabetic community and within minutes I was able to calm down with the answers I got. We still took him to get tested, but the peace of mind the community gave us was priceless.
9. You can help others. The feeling you get from helping out someone else, answering their questions or directing them to where they can get answers, will make you feel even better than when you get help from others.
10. You can make great new friends. I have seen some amazing friendships start and grow online through online diabetes communities.
At the end of the day, you need to take all you learn and put it to use in your life. If you sit at your computer all day long, it isn't going to do much for your diabetes management. But if you apply your newly-found knowledge about diabetes, your health will improve as a result. And you will have some great news to share with your online friends the next time you reconnect with them.
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.
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Well maybe not so much a furor as a controversy. The question, bluntly put, is whether or not a single HbA1c reading should be sufficient and adequate to diagnose diabetes — and whether the conditions under which the test was conducted should have any bearing on the diagnostic or non-diagnostic value of the test. The lede from