Living With Diabetes: How I Use Social Media to Connect With Other Patients
Emotions. It’s not something that comes to mind when you think of someone living with diabetes. But believe it or not, there are many profound feelings and emotions involved with diabetes management.
So often, diabetes is about a number. The number that corresponds to a fingerstick. Thenumber you get every three months at the endocrinologist’s office. The number of times you’ve checked your blood sugar. The number of times you gave yourself a bolus of insulin. The number of carbohydrates in that snack you just had.
It’s exhausting. Trying to function as your own pancreas is flat out difficult. And because of both the stigma surrounding this disease and the nature of HIPPA laws, it can be downright lonely sometimes. Even when you’ve got the most supportive family and friends and a terrific team of doctors, it feels like a battle that can only be fought and understood by you.
While others can see how sweaty and shaky a low blood sugar makes you, they can’t feel the haze that comes along with it. While others can observe your reaction to a blood sugar check, they don’t feel the guilt from forgetting to bolus, or not bolusing enough, or bolusing too much. There is opportunity for much doubt and fear, and it can be easy to fall prey to.
I have a super weapon for dealing with some of the negative emotions I feel about diabetes. It’s called the Diabetic Online Community (DOC).
I discovered the DOC through Twitter, and quite accidentally. Now, I interact with other People with Diabetes all over the world across many social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Vine. I’ve connected with people diagnosed in early adulthood, like myself. I’ve talked to people who use an insulin pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor just like me. I’ve talked to people who are disappointed sometimes in all those numbers, just like me.
I’ve met many not like me as well. People who manage their diabetes with injections. People living with Type 2 diabetes. People who are parents, caring for their children who live with diabetes. I’ve met people who challenged my thoughts, feelings and knowledge of this disease. People who cheered with me when my hard work paid off and others who reassured me when I was having a bad day.
I urge you to read some of the blogs written by some of the most popular DOC members. I’ve linked to some in this post already (Kerry, Lorraine and Alexis) but there are so many more diabetes bloggers out there. Some of my other favorites are George, Scott, Kim, Ginger, another Scott and this collection of Diabetes Bloggers at Diabetes Mine.
I’ve gained much since I found the DOC: A wealth of a knowledge I can turn to when I encounter a new situation. A camaraderie that I can depend on to rally with me. A kinship with people who just “get it.” I’ve even found a few real life friendships with people who live in the area. I don’t know where my diabetes management would be without the DOC. But I hope I never have to find out.
Jess Buchanan grew up in Colchester, Vermont. She has been a Type 1 diabetic for 6 years. She enjoys cooking, reading, singing, dancing, working out and planning her 2014 wedding while playing with her pet bunny Grier.