Thanks to Cherise Shockley and the team at the DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy - #dsma) website, there is a new Blog Carnival making the rounds in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). How's that for a mouthful of acronyms? In case you're not familiar with any of this, a Blog Carnival is a monthly feature in which bloggers respond to a prompt on their respective sites, and the following month all the responses are collected and posted at hosting site, in this case the DSMA blog. This is a great way for bloggers within a community to reflect on an issue collectively, and also get to know some of the newer bloggers!
Here at the 'Mine, Allison and I will both take the chance to speak out, and feel free to participate yourself, or leave a comment here in case you don't have your own blog (or just feel the urge).
This month's prompt is:
"The most awesome thing I have done in spite of diabetes is . . . . "
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There are a lot of things I've done while living with diabetes, but I think the most awesome thing I've done in spite of diabetes is travel to England by myself.
A lot of people I know are very nervous about traveling overseas alone without diabetes. I was originally supposed to go to England with some friends, but unfortunately their trip got canceled. However, I had already purchased a round-rip ticket, and I was determined to go! I went for 8 days in September 2008, with 4 days spent in the town of Bath, and another 4 days in London. In Bath, I stayed at a hostel by myself (well, I was in a dorm room setting, so I was hardly alone), and then in London, I stayed with a friend of mine who also has diabetes. However, she was working, so I was mostly independent during the day in London.
Traveling alone definitely takes a lot of preparation, both physically and emotionally. I had emergency contact info for a couple of friends in the country, and I also had medical identification on me. I stayed in contact with my family and friends via occasional check-ins (I am an Internet addict, too). Plus, I had enough diabetes supplies that I could have stayed in England for a whole month!
I've always believed that diabetes should never get in the way of something you really want to do, even if it means going it alone (as long as going it alone is reasonably safe!).
But the truth is, the most awesome thing I have done since being diagnosed with diabetes in 2003 is right here. You are looking at it.
I have morphed myself from an ordinary sub/urban mom who happens to write for a living into a nationally known advocate for people living with this potentially devastating and ridiculously high-maintenance disease. I guess I am proud of that, but mostly I am motivated by it. It makes me excited to get out of bed every morning — anxious to get to my computer to find out what you all are saying, who might have a juicy news tip, or what company might be announcing something interesting that I can share with you all.
But there's more to it than that. I think my husband would say that diabetes has helped me "come out of my shell." Not that I was ever overly shy as an adult, but it just changed my attitude about trying new things, self-publishing, and speaking my mind. What have I got to lose, for God's sake? I have an illness that nearly took my life six years ago, and may get me yet. I'm not holding anything back in the time I've been given here on this Earth.
What I also view as awesome despite diabetes is charging ahead with the active life I've always chosen to lead. Right after diagnosis, I felt small and fragile and scared. I felt like any trip away from home would be risky and frightening, and a two-hour work out might just land me in the hospital. But I refused to accept that! Today, I travel around the country for diabetes-related events, almost always alone, and across the ocean to Europe every summer, where my family and I live out of suitcases for a month. I work out regularly, sometimes for two whole hours. I drive my kids all around the Bay Area. I ride my bike when I want to (most of the time) and eat what I want to (most of the time). Many of these things are trickier than they used to be, but it's just this challenge that has made me appreciate the nuances of every single one of them.
As we were taping the promotional video for this year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge (coming soon!), I met a man named Thomas with type 1 in his late '50s who lives alone. He recently had a severe low and lost the muscle function in his right arm due to lying on it for so many hours immobile. But this guy still runs marathons. He travels. He's into Internet dating. Despite everything — even a chipped front tooth due to another low in which he passed out — he says, "I'm glad I have diabetes. It's brought a lot of good things into my life." Maybe that's the most awesome thing I've done in recent years, is meet all the PWDs like Thomas out there, who choose to focus on the "awesome" that life has to offer!
Thank you Cherise, for this wonderful exercise. Click here to learn more about the DSMA blog carnival, or to participate yourself.