My Wish For the Diabetes Community In 2019

Let’s have more collaboration and less disconnect. Organisations, healthcare professionals, researchers, pharmaceuticals, industry, people with diabetes and people connected to diabetes. We are all doing amazing things. We all want the same thing, too! Imagine how much more we could achieve if we put our minds together and joined forces?

Let’s respect each other’s differences in the way that we choose to manage our diabetes. Two people will never be exactly the same, so why do we expect two people with diabetes to be? I don’t subscribe to the notion that one size fits all when it comes to managing diabetes. Whether that be pens, pumps, meters, sensors, needles, syringes, Twitter, Facebook, carbs or no carbs, we are all unique and can peacefully co-exist together.

Let’s remember that no one issue is more important than another. Whether that be insulin pricing, insulin for those less fortunate, funding for CGMs, funding for better healthcare services or greater awareness of diabetes. If it’s important to one person, then it’s important. Full stop. But by turning it into an ‘us against them’ scenario, we are marginalising other groups campaigning for equally worthy causes.

While I’m there, let’s put an end to the calls for greater distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Yes, there are two (well actually, many more) types of diabetes. And yes, it’s important to know the differences between the two. But let’s also remember that nobody asks to get diabetes. This need to separate ourselves from people with other types of diabetes only serves to stigmatise people with different kinds of diabetes than us. We’re all in this together, right?

Let’s bring the voices of more people with diabetes to the table. Let’s see more people with diabetes talking to those in the industry. Let’s see organisations who are representing us, engaging with us. Let’s involve people with diabetes in all aspects of the research and development process, and not just at the launch phase. After all, how can people with diabetes not have a place in discussions that are about us?

Let’s celebrate the small victories (I’m the first to admit to being a glass half empty kind of guy…). Many of us don’t appreciate, for example, the research and development that goes into a product, or the advocacy that goes into securing funding from the government. Good things take time.

Let’s never give up on striving for more. Whether that be talking to your local Member of Parliament to advocate for better outcomes for people with diabetes, or challenging yourself to reach new goals in your own diabetes management. Energy spent complaining (and I’m the first to admit to being a serial whinger) is energy that we could be putting towards something productive.

Let’s never lose sight of why we all joined the diabetes community in the first place. To connect with other people just like us. To raise each other up on the tough days. To bask with us in the glory of our small victories. To know that we are never alone in what we are dealing with. Let’s continue to amplify the peer support that this community does best.

Finding the Good in Diabetes.

Yeah, diabetes sucks.

Majorly.

I would ditch it for the cure in a heartbeat (if only I had some faith in one…)

But after this post I shared earlier this week, I kind of felt like it was only fair that I balance it out with some of the upsides. Because, there have been a lot of silver linings to a faulty pancreas. I’m not allowing myself to talk about fellow people with diabetes in this post, because I think I harp on about my peers all the time.

Nutrition. Before I was diagnosed, I ate a lot of processed foods. Almost every day after school I would open a packet of crisps, pour myself a glass of soft drink or eat a plate of ice cream. Diet staples included sugar laden breakfast cereals, muesli bars, glasses of juice, sugar for my coffee, Nesquik powder and syrupy yoghurts.

Although I wasn’t overweight, I was a bit of a chubby kid growing up and always felt a little self conscious for it (ironically, now I have the opposite problem!). I still enjoy treats on a daily basis, because life is too short not to drink the coffee or eat the Cannoli. But I guess living with diabetes has made me far more conscious of what I’m putting into my body, and I have made a lot of changes to what I eat.

Confidence. Living with diabetes has taken me one massive step outside of my comfort zone. I can’t say that I ever would have dreamed of speaking about diabetes in front of my peers, let alone in front industry and healthcare professionals. Being my own advocate around others in managing my condition has given me a massive shot of confidence, that I daresay has carried through to the non diabetes aspects of my life.

New places. Diabetes has taken me to so many new places here in Australia, and to be honest I’m not too sure that I would have been open to so much travel if it weren’t for the places diabetes advocacy has sent me to.

No more charity guilt. I have to admit I always felt guilty for turning down a cold caller or door knocker asking for money, but now I can actually ditch the guilt because I know that there are charities and orgs in the diabetes community which I actually do support.

Self care. Living with diabetes has taught me to make myself a priority. I think I’m far more in touch with how I am feeling, and what I need to do to look after myself both physically and mentally. Whether that be preparing meals, putting on my trackpants and watching some Netflix, going for a walk in the sunshine, or going to bed a little earlier tonight.

A smaller world. Because the world is so, so big. There are geographical barriers including suburbs, cities, states and countries separating me from other parts of it. Yet the diabetes community has broken down all of these. Because it truly is a global one, with information and peer support available at my fingertips 24 hours a day.

A blog. I have to say I was always a little obsessed with the idea of blogging a decade ago, with the little archive tabs on the sidebar categorising past posts by months and post counts. Today I’m the proud owner of my own little corner of the internet, which definitely would not exist if it weren’t for my defunct beta cells.

Thank you, diabetes.

You may have taken away my functioning beta cells, but you most certainly haven’t taken away my ability to live without them.