I joined in a fantastic conversation the other day, regarding whether involvement in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) benefits or harms patients. Some recent findings by Dr Michelle Litchman suggested that involvement in the DOC was associated with better glycemic control, self care behaviour and quality of life. You can read more about that on Brian’s blog here.
It’s a topic that’s no doubt questioned by diabetes professionals. Last week, for instance, I asked my endo whether she has heard much about what people with diabetes are doing online. Her response was “I can imagine.” She clearly had no idea what I meant, but told me that it was fine to do so.
Outside of this blog and outside of the Diabetes Online Community, I don’t actually know many people with diabetes. I have two extended family members who have type 2 diabetes. My great grandmother, who passed away before I was born, had some form of diabetes in her old age that she treated with insulin. There were two people who I went to school with, before I was diagnosed, who had type 1 diabetes. And there is someone at work who I know of, but don’t really know, who has type 1 diabetes.
That’s about it. I don’t really have anyone in real life who I can talk to about diabetes. Well, I do, of course. But I don’t have anyone who actually “gets” it. And that’s where the Diabetes Online Community comes in handy.
I absolutely love the fact that I can pick up my phone and I’m instantly connected with people on the other side of the world who have diabetes. I love that I can ask my Twitter friend Aaron how his pump is going. I love that I can read moving pieces of writing that I instantly just “get,” like this blog post I Don’t Want Anyone To Know from my #doc friend Malina (seriously, you MUST read this). I love that there are people like Lala, Marian and Aaron who reach out to me with words of encouragement and advice after reading my blog posts. And I love that I have my wonderful OzDOC friends who I can chat and laugh with every Tuesday night.
It saddens me to think that I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 5 long years without knowing that this wonderful community exists. It saddens me to think about how unwise and unenthusiastic I was about diabetes before I started this blog a few months ago. And it saddens me to think about day to day life without the support of this community.
As for the science of it all, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest whether it’s proven or not.
I know that I instantly feel better by being able to connect with this community of positive, inspirational, supportive and non judgemental people. I know that I’m inspired by this community to live my very best each and every day. I know that this community has opened my eyes and ignited a passion for the very disease that I live with every day. A passion that drives me to write and to share so much, so often. I know that this community has provided me with a cushion of support to fall back on at times. And I know that this community has a positive influence that will motivate me to manage my diabetes in the best way I can.
I get all of that from people who are complete strangers to me. People who I’ve never met. People who I could walk past on the street without even giving a second glance. I think that is bloody amazing.