November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Coincidentally, WEGO Health is sponsoring National Health Blog Post Month…so I’m throwing my hat in the ring as part of my effort to raise awareness of Type 1 Diabetes and related health issues.
November 1: My favorite thing about social media/the internet/online health communities is…
When someone you love is suddenly diagnosed with a life-threatening, chronic health condition, you quickly find yourself thrown overboard into a raging sea with little to keep your head above water. Our healthcare providers tried to assist us by tossing out hunks of information about glucose monitoring, carb counting, sick day management, medication administration… To me, it felt like I was being thrown things that in theory would help me keep my daughter alive, so long as I could keep my own head above the waves. When someone is drowning, you don’t hand her a paddle. You don’t throw her an untethered rope. No, you give her a life raft.
My life raft came in the form of an introduction. Shortly after Madeline was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, a classmate and friend from my graduate school days at the University of Vermont reached out to me. She had a good friend who happened to have a son with T1D. This woman was a nurse, living in the trenches as a mother trying to keep her son alive while also simultaneously trying to prevent T1D from consuming her family, her marriage, her life. Susanne introduced me to Reyna on Facebook, and that was all I needed.
Reyna was a wealth of support and information in my earliest days as a newly minted pancreas. And, as luck would have it, she was also well known among a powerful online network of people living with Type 1 Diabetes, called the Diabetic Online Community (the “DOC”). Through Reyna, I found countless other people—parents, in particular—and instantly felt connected to this incredible network of people on whom I could rely for support, information and advice.
I admit that in the days before T1D, I scoffed at “online social networking.” It all seemed so impersonal and superficial, this way of meeting and interacting with people one has never met. But after that life raft introduction, my opinion transformed. Reyna was a lifesaving support to me in her own right, but she was also my gateway to a world of genuine support and been-there-done-that understanding—a world that simply is not available to me looking out my front door.
So thank you, Susanne. Thank you, Reyna. And thank you, DOC. I hope that my own blog, one among so many in the DOC, serves as that gateway support for others entering this strange, treacherous, unyielding and mystifying life of mothering a child with T1D.