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Diabetes Awareness Month 2013: Giving Thanks

November 20, 2013

As I mentioned before, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. A number of diabetes support organizations and other blogs are focusing on week-by-week themes for the month. This week’s theme is “Giving Thanks,” and I’ve read and watched a number of blogs and vlogs that have diabetics (or people with diabetes) talking about ways they’re thankful they have diabetes.

I don’t think I’m going to go that far, but I can appreciate that everyone’s allowed to have their own opinion. (Even if they’re wrong.)

I’m resigned to having diabetes and to being diabetic, not thankful. However, I am very thankful for a lot of things, as related to my diabetes. Here are a few:

I’m thankful that technology is improving, allowing for better care for a longer time.
I remember reading years and years ago that, after 20 years, permanent complications set it, including diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eyes), diabetic cardiomyopathy (heart problems), diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage) or diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage, particularly to the extremities).

I haven’t had to deal with any of that, fortunately, and I’ve been at this for over 30 years. Part of it is dumb luck, especially since, in my younger years, due to a combination of hubris and stupidity, I didn’t test my sugars regularly (or, for a while, at all). I can remember visits to the doctor where I was sure I was going to get some bad news, but I’ve been very, very lucky that these things haven’t bitten me in the ass.

In recent years, this is because it’s easier to care for myself. Meters are tiny and work almost instantly. Instead of carrying around syringes and vials of insulin, it’s pens and syringe tips, or a pump that can be used and programmed discretely. (I sure hope to be able to sue mine soon.) This is a major, major improvement on the old days (which I referred to in this post), when it was beef insulin, with limited options for medication transport, no options for testing other than peeing on a Keto-Diastix stick to see if sugars were too high, and no hypoglycemia-treatment options other than sugar cubes (blech!) or a pack of Lifesavers that had been in my pocket for weeks and had become fused together, and had lint stock to them. Not the most tasty options.

I’m grateful for the many, many, many people who have given, either of their time or their money, to help try to advance the cause.
There was a big fundraising walk held recently, and it’s great to hear about how many people get out and really give to remember their family members and friends who have been touched by diabetes. Meg and I recently had a photo shoot for Owen with a woman who lives in our neighborhood, and once a year takes appointments, donating a portion of her fees to charity. (Aside: It’s Karen Tropea. She’s awesome. Hire her. She’s fantastic.) Last year she donated her funds to a great organization in the city that helps feed the hungry. This year she chose the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (my personal favorite diabetes charity).

After the photo shoot, she mentioned the charity and I told her how it was close to my heart, and that I have diabetes. It seems diabetes has also touched her family, and the JDRF is going to be the charity she chooses every year. This is awesome! And Karen is just one person who’s doing incredible things to raise money for a phenomenal cause.

I’m thankful for all the additional resources that are available to help diabetics cope with this condition.
I was thinking recently this week that I wasn’t involved with any support groups when I was younger. (I’m still not, really.) I searched out info to find ways to advance my care, but it wasn’t easy. Now there are dozens of publications and blogs, written by people with diabetes, about the issues that are of greatest concern.

There are sites like Diabetes Mine and the American Recall Center that cover advances, advocacy and everything else that matters to diabetics. There are Twitter feeds and aggregators that spread the word. And the personal blogs. (Like this one.) There are some great, great blogs. I listed a bunch of my favorites in a recent post, but there are new ones being started every day.

There are great Youtube feeds. Since I’ve been researching pumps, I discovered vlogs like Diabetic Danica and Rachel Southard, who had a really cool series of videos showing how to insert the infusion set and CGM. It’s info that’s covered in theory by the companies that make these devices, but seeing and hearing actual people who use these devices is way more helpful than any process document or video featuring a dummy. Medtronic has their Youtube channel. The JDRF has a fantastic Youtube channel, too. All these are great resources that provide incredible information.

I’m grateful to all the diabetics who have reached out to me on Twitter, and have been reading the blog.
It’s flattering and has brought a lot of other blogs to my attention. It’s brought an lot of joy to read a lot of different people writing about their lives and how they deal with their struggles.

I wrote a while ago about the “The Happiness Advantage” and ways to increase happiness. A friend reached out to me after I posted that asking, “Why do you think you need to be happier? You’re one of the most positive people I’ve ever met.” I was very happy to hear that.

Giving thanks, with regard to diabetes, can point out some really wonderful things. I think the future’s getting brighter. I really believe that.

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