A friend of mine in the Diabetes Community recently mentioned being burnt out on advocacy.
So many great diabetes causes and efforts, but just so many Asks at the moment... with this being the start of November, national Diabetes Awareness Month.
This D-peep is a longtime type 1 from my local community, someone who's been very active offline through the years and has generally jumped at the chance to raise awareness and deepen connections with the D-Community. So it surprised me at first to hear him talk about burnout -- but then his reasons hit home and made me start nodding.
His concerns echoed sentiments I've heard from others over the past few months, as we've been inundated with initiatives and advocacy prompts. Many of them, leading up to this grand awareness month, are aimed at giving the general public a kick in the behind to pay more attention to diabetes. But that's always an uphill battle, isn't it?
A couple of weeks ago, we previewed some of the many campaigns coming up this month from the big, established advocacy orgs and well-known advocates. For example, the JDRF just marked its T1Day this past weekend on Nov. 1 and is promoting a "What's T1D?" quiz to help educate. They're asking folks to share the #noT1D hashtag on Twitter. Both the American Diabetes Association and International Diabetes Federation are running healthy-eating focused campaigns, along with the IDF's "take a Blue Circle selfie" campaign.
There are numerous smaller efforts too, like this very cool Hand In Hand, Art for Diabetes project, raising money for the Diabetes Hands Foundation; the push for Congressional action on diabetes-related legislation during this highly-political election season; and the #WalkWithD campaign that encourages us to share our own personal daily experiences with D.
These are all great efforts. Truly. We just need to find a way not to get lost in them all.
NOTE that if you don't do anything else, please take a little time to join our community's hugely important discussion with the FDA later TODAY (!). This one is not about rattling the public at large, but rather an unprecedented chance for us patients to have a direct dialogue with FDA leaders on our biggest unmet needs, and the future of diabetes drugs and devices.
Meanwhile, it's encouraging that there's so much happening out there to raise the bar on how the world looks at diabetes. But when all these Asks come swirling toward you at the same time, it can be a bit much. That's how I've felt lately. I just don't have that fire underneath me to focus on public advocacy. Actually, I have feeling Blah about D overall for the past several months, so maybe this is just an extension of that...
Thinking this over, I decided I am making this November more about my personal sphere and community -- while doing my best to Pay It Forward as much as possible when the chance arises. Here are my thoughts on what this 2014 D-Month means to me:
Exercising for myself (and others!): It's been too long since I've had a good routine in staying active, and I can feel how out of shape I am mentally and physically. My blood sugars certainly show it, as do the bigger clothing sizes I've had to buy. For a guy in my mid-30s, I need to be doing better. That's why I've been so appreciative of the Big Blue Test in 2014. Since it launched on Oct. 20, I've been doing at least one test per day -- helping motivate me to do everything from walking the dog around the block, strolling through a store or parking lot, stretching my bike tire rubber a bit, raking leaves, vacuuming the house, or even doing a little dance by myself (a la Ellen Degeneres). I've done something every day so far, and have seen the effect in my blood sugars. I've felt noticeably better and less stressed afterward. I plan to keep this up daily. And through Nov. 19, I'm happy that my tiny bit of exercise entered online is generating a $1 donation per activity to people with diabetes who need it most. That makes me feel even more proud of "getting in gear."
D-Camp: I'm also proud to be a part of a non-profit org here in Central Indiana that, among other things, runs a diabetes camp each summer. When I was growing up, I didn't go to camp much because I wasn't then (and am still not today) a fan of mosquitoes. And there were LOTS of them at D-Camp. They accosted me and made me want to go home and never return. Sadly, those pesky bugs caused me to avoid making diabetes camp a part of my life, and I've regretted that ever since joining up with the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana. Seeing the joy camp brings to the kids and teens, and knowing what impact it's having on the community and beyond... that's priceless. And that is where my local passion has really turned these days. I look at this camp and know there's a sense of belonging, a feeling that those attending no longer feel alone because they're with so many peers with diabetes, and the DOC comes to mind, i.e. the notion of "connecting the dots." This also fits with my exercise theme from above, as at our 25th anniversary gala on this upcoming World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, I plan to do some serious dancing for at least one of my Big Blue Tests that evening. Of course, many of us there will be doing our part by wearing Blue and sharing key messages like: "You Are Not Alone" and "You Can Do This."
Technology and Diabetes Data: In getting back into my data logging routine as I prep for an early December visit with my endo. That means making full use of the technology I have access to, like my insulin pump connected to my glucose meter and my always-helpful CGM. Most recently, I've also joined the Nightscout community (!), using this hacked solution to make my diabetes data more accessible. Literally, I just hooked up to CGM in the Cloud this past Friday and will be sharing some first impressions before long. I'm excited to be attending our Fall DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange event that will bring together the Nightscout creators and other data innovators with regulatory experts and more. I'm looking forward to learning more about how I can use this data in the most effective way to help me improve my own health, and then share that with others to use as they will (#WeAreNotWaiting). This year will also be my first time attending our DiabetesMine Innovation Summit, happening on Nov. 21 (I previously had a conflict with my local D-Camp Gala). I'll be there participating, covering the action, and just soaking up all the brain power that will be present...
So that's where diabetes advocacy is at for me this month.
What about you?