We're all in this together.
By Kerri Sparling
October 2011 — If you are keeping score at home, the environment is definitely fighting back with a vengeance these days with countless earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and tornados ravaging our little world. The nightly news looks like a Jerry Bruckheimer film, and as a result, I think people are almost becoming numb to seeing these images of destruction.
Almost becoming numb. But not completely.
The diabetes community never fails to remind me that people are intrinsically good. Recently, when the tornadoes ripped across Alabama and destroyed homes, business, and people's lives, the diabetes community came together to help support people with diabetes who were in need in these areas. (Notably, Alabama native and diabetes blogger Victoria Cumbow reached out across the blogosphere to rally the troops, collecting diabetes supplies and distributing them to PWDs in need. Her contribution was one of many that took place during Alabama's time of need.)
People with diabetes donate their extra supplies all the time, especially in times of crisis. Over the last few years, every natural disaster that's affected our world has triggered an outpouring of compassion, empathy, and contribution from the diabetes community. This kind of community is worth celebrating.
But the outpouring isn't limited to actual test strips, insulin vials, and glucose meters. Every single day, the diabetes community is giving back, even if only to one another. Each day, hundreds of diabetes bloggers take to the web and share their real lives with diabetes, empowering their readers to keep trying and confirming that none of us are truly alone with this disease. Each day, diabetes advocacy organizations like the JDRF and ADA are assisting the newly diagnosed with the epic learning curve of diabetes, helping reeducate the veterans, and touching hundreds of lives in between. Parents log on to message boards and share the best practices that they employ in their child's diabetes life. Support groups meet up at coffee shops and shopping malls, leaning on one another as they do their best to manage diabetes. People with diabetes, helping other people with diabetes, are everywhere you look. The outpouring of support from the diabetes community is daily, and is seemingly limitless.
What is it about diabetes that makes us gather together like this? What makes a broken pancreas such a common bond? How can people who have never met suddenly strike up an hour-long, intimate conversation simply from noticing one another's insulin pumps?
Diabetes is every day. EVERY day. There aren't any breaks from this disease, and while technology is advancing all the time, a cure isn't on tap just yet. We take our injections before we have our morning coffee, and that glucose meter sleeps next to us on the bedside table every night. It's this unending cycle, this relentlessly needy disease that brings us together in such a way. And when you have it, you really "get" it. I am always inspired after meeting with fellow PWDs, knowing that we're all in this together. It's what makes us reach into our own pockets to buy life-sustaining supplies for people we don't even know, simply because they have diabetes, too.
We're not numb, not yet. We know how fragile life can be, and we're bent on keeping this community as healthy as we can, for as long as we are able.
Living well with diabetes requires support, and plenty of it. And while we may not make our own insulin, thankfully we have support in spades.
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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One of the online diabetes groups I belong to (but don't frequently post to) is geared towards "frum" (Orthodox or "observant") Jewish people with (mostly type 1) diabetes. Most of the chat on the mailing list centers around people needing last-minute supplies before Shabbat or a holiday, where to acquire supplies and get medical help when visiting Israel, and advice on which pump is best for one's type 1 child — in other words, the usual sort of diabetes chatter, but...