Monday, March 21, 2011

Educate & Advocate

Why do we get so lazy when it comes to diabetes? Why do we let opportunities in educating people about diabetes pass by? I have a theory about this. With me anyway.

My theory is that I just don’t want to deal with diabetes. Not in a general sense. I deal with diabetes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (and 366 days in a leap year!). Diabetes, while not always at the forefront of my thoughts, is something that always exists in my life. I don’t like people knowing all the literal ups and downs of living with diabetes because I hate the pity and sad looks I get from people.

So, what do I do? I hide it. I don’t hide my diabetes. People know I’m a diabetic. I don’t have a problem with that. But I hide the bad stuff. Sometimes I think people are under the impression that I have perfect control. But I don’t. I do what I can. I believe I have better control because I have the D-OC. In a totally indirect way, you guys keep me caring about myself and keep me on top of my health.

But, as I’ve gotten more and more involved in the D-OC over the last (almost!) 4 years, I’ve realized that the D-OC is more than just helping ourselves mentally with our lives with diabetes. In a way, we are the voice of all people living with diabetes. Even the people who aren’t a part of our community. More and more health care professionals are online, reading about the patients that they care for. More newly diagnosed diabetics (or parents of diabetic children) are searching online for information about their disease, and in the process finding our blogs. Blogs about people living with or caring for, people living with diabetes.

With that, comes a great responsibility. Sure, we are allowed to “fail.” We are allowed to have a “bad” A1c, or a bad week of rollercoaster blood sugars. Those are the responsibilities I am talking about. I am just now beginning to understand that it becomes our responsibility to advocate for people with diabetes. It’s our job stand up when we see people misrepresenting diabetes. It’s our job to educate people who don’t understand or who are presenting information about diabetes in a way that isn’t true.

Kelly Kunik famously tells her story about Halle Berry being the reason she started to blog. It was during the whole deal where Halle said she was Type 1 and weaned herself off of insulin so she was now a Type 2. :/ Kelly was so infuriated by this misrepresentation of diabetes and the types of diabetes that she started blogging (and making big wigs cry). And in the process, she has become a fantastically funny addition to the D-OC, and a wonderful (LOUD) advocate for those of us who live every day with diabetes.

During the blogger round table that they had a JDRF Government Day, and throughout the weekend, those of us who weren’t there were able to be a part of the action through Twitter and the hashtag #JDRFGovDay. That really lit a fire in my heart. I feel like I should be doing more. I need to be the one making the phone calls to let people know they are presenting information about diabetes incorrectly. I’m the one who needs to be blogging about the things that will matter to the people who are searching for information about diabetes that isn’t your typical “text book” information.

So, my goal is to see what I can do. What kind of difference can I make? I’m not a technical writer. I don’t “do” science. But I do have a voice. And I can share with people what I read. And I can educate people about Type 1 diabetes and what it’s like to live with diabetes. I want to become voice for people who live every single day with diabetes. I want people to understand that diabetes doesn’t take a vacation. I want to educate.

I’m not quite sure how I’m going to start out. But my pastor preached this Sunday about running toward your fears instead of away from them. So this is my first step. Advocacy has always been something that I’m been afraid to do. So this is one fear I’m going to head right toward. When a door opens, I’m going to take it.


Kim said...

LOVE THIS (and you)! :) We're stronger as a chorus than a soloist.

meanderings said...

Good points and love Kim's comment!

k2 said...

Love the post and YOU GO, GIRL!!
Thanks for the shout out & continue to face your fears and advocate your butt off !
kelly K

Alissa @ Juvenile Diabetesq said...

so very true! i used to shy away from actually answering the questions people asked, kind of giving a half hearted response.

but i think it is SO important to actually answer them properly so they understand that diabetes can be life-threatening and it does need to be taken seriously...

i'm now working out how not to start ramming information at them when they ask, but effectively start a discussion... haha, if you have advice on this one, let me know!

Karen said...

Awesome!!!! And I feel the same way you do - that we need to do all we can, and when we see an opportunity to do more we need to grab it and give our 115%!!! I'm in!

I love the D-OC and I love each and every comment I get on my blog. But I have to say, I feel a very special warmth when I get a comment from a knitting pal on my diabetes blog. Because I know I have taught them something about diabetes they didn't know. :)