It's that time of year when diabetes gets some extra air time as the media turn their attention to the our community: it is World Diabetes Day! It is a time for people affected by diabetes in some way to come together, make plans, educate, raise awareness and of course, dress ourselves, our buildings, our kids and even our pets, in blue!!
I was diagnosed in 1986, five years before World Diabetes Day - an opportunity to put the global spotlight on diabetes - was first introduced by the International Diabetes Federation. And dare I admit that until 4 years ago, I'd never heard of it. Why? Because I wasn't engaged; I didn't know the DOC even existed or that when they come together they become a powerhouse of motivation, dedication and fun! I didn't know about it, and I didn't know what I was missing.
Growing up with diabetes I didn't feel alone because my parents mastered the delicate balancing act between 'it plays a big role in our lives' and 'she's just going to be a kid, damnit'. I guess I felt unique in that I was the only person I knew who had the condition, but people didn't treat me any differently, something I am ever thankful for. But I knew there was an element missing: I knew I was looking for something, I just didn't know what that something was. On the odd occasion that I ran into another diabetic it felt like meeting a long lost sibling in that we shared a connection that no-one else could understand. I would talk for hours with them, share my funniest hypo stories, my fears, my hopes, my aspirations. I would share more with that person in 30 minutes than I would with many of my life-long friends in the whole time I'd known them. We shared a connection: one that no-one else can completely understand.
My world opened up when I wrote my first blog post and almost instantly started spending my time speaking on a daily basis with other people in my line of 'work'. I met a world of people, young and old, type 1 and 2, male and female, who reciprocated my very feelings on all things diabetes. Some challenged the way I thought, some made me want to scream because I disagreed so wholly with them and others it was like meeting my reflection. At last, I found my something missing.
We don't have Thanksgiving in Great Britain, but I always loved the idea of giving thanks for something. So this Diabetes Day that's what I want to do; I want to give thanks for the community of people I've become acquainted with - no, connected to - in the past four years. Thank you for holding me up when things get tough and thank you for enjoying the good times with me. Thank you for sharing my journey and thank you for letting me be part of yours. Thank you for inspiring me every day with your strength, resilience, ingenuity and creativity in dealing with this day-to-day. Thank you for encouraging me to take care of myself, because the longer I am here, the longer we all have to share a life. Thank you for educating me and teaching me to expect more. And thank you for being my A-Z guide of how to deal with diabetes.