The Fifth ‘T’

Earlier this week, I was finally able to put a face to someone whom I’d only ever known through the DOC. This person was probably one of the very first people I’d connected with when I first started writing here on my blog a few years ago. Despite living in the same city and perhaps being in some similar circles, we hadn’t quite been in the same place at the same time up until now.

He very generously gave up his time to speak to myself and fellow Young Adult Diabetes Committee members, sharing his own story of a flexible diabetes management regime that suited his lifestyle. One part of this was a DIY closed loop system.

I listened intently as he explained the ins and outs of this system, watching his blood sugar rise ever so slightly while the system automatically delivered micro boluses to correct. When question time rolled around, I asked him what sort of time commitment was involved in setting up such a complex system like his.

He told us about the many different online communities there were available to support him in setting up this system. About the ‘build parties’ where groups of like minded people got together to learn off of each other. How he was happy to accept messages and offer support to people who might be thinking about building a similar system.

‘It’s much easier when you have the community to help you’ were his exact words.

This really has nothing to do with DIY closed loop. So please don’t ask me questions, because I would hardly be able to answer them. But my new friend’s sentiments could be equally applicable to almost any subset or interest group within the diabetes community.

The diabetes community supports each other 24 hours a day. Whether it be through Facebook groups, Tweet chats, information sharing, storytelling or meeting up in person, this community is truly one of the most genuine things that I know of.

I mean, why else would you meet up with a total stranger from the other side of the world who’s been backpacking through Australia? Or tell someone you barely know that they can come to your door to borrow some much needed diabetes gear?

For the most part, we don’t do it to get famous or build followings or make money. We do it because we genuinely want to feel connected, informed and supported – and we want our peers to feel exactly the same as we do.

If you’ve been paying attention to National Diabetes Week, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the four ‘T’s of diabetes. Being tired, toilet, thirsty and thinner. However, I still think that there’s a ‘T’ missing from those four.

It’s not necessarily a symptom of diabetes like the other four ‘Ts.’ But to me it’s something that’s synonymous with diabetes. I can’t think about diabetes and not be reminded of this word. A word that’s been so life changing and such a vital ingredient in being able to cope with a complex condition so well.

For me personally, that fifth ‘T’ of diabetes would undoubtedly have to be the word ‘tribe.’

As the old saying goes, find your tribe and love them hard.

They really do make diabetes suck a lot less.


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