Recently I’ve been spreading my wings a little. I primarily became involved in online health activism through social media because of my asthma. I thoroughly believe in the power of social media and COMMUNITY in dealing with chronic conditions, and the power of these two things to create awareness and ignite passion to continue the fight against health issues that are prevalent and important, but if they don’t directly impact you, you tend to push them to the back of your mind.
Tonight I asked on Twitter what I should blog about. Mike (@mydiabeticheart) suggested I write about what I’m learning from the Diabetes Online Community—the DOC for short. Wednesday nights sometimes lead me into the #dsma (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) chats on Twitter, because after the other Kerri shared the Kerri love I have become surrounded by passionate people with diabetes [PWDs] on Twitter, who tirelessly work not only to help maintain and improve their own health, but also work so, so hard to help and encourage others and ultimately educate people about diabetes—both to be AWARE and to spread their passion towards advocating for research for a cure.
The DOC is a community that is so full of passion that it is overwhelming. This is a passion that is severely lacking in my own asthma community—as much as I love them, this could just be due to the pure prevalence of asthma and that asthma is “typically” milder than mine is. The passion of the DOC overwhelms me. It makes me want to stand alongside my new Twitter friends with diabetes—even though I have no idea what they are going through first-hand, I think a big part of advocacy is EMPATHY, something a lot of the people of this world are lacking, perhaps because they haven’t been educated in it.
So what is the DOC teaching me? They’re teaching me that I can be a voice without being directly affected by diabetes. They’re teaching me that passion is alive and real and just needs to be unlocked within people. They’re teaching me about community on a huge level. They’re teaching me that “OMG I knew there was Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but there’s a Type 1.5?!” They’re teaching me about insulin pumping and continuous glucose monitoring systems and carb counting and being truly ALIVE with whatever life has thrown at them. They’re teaching me about living, and living LOUD with diabetes.
Some days the DOC tells their stories and shares their adventures with diabetes in a continuous feed in my TweetDeck–I hear the stories about pumpers dealing with the TSA at airports, see the #bgnow tweets, hear the complaints about the alarms from their CGMs and pumps–and am slowly, slowly trying to put together what it really means to live with diabetes. I am moved by the tweetups and conferences and events that happen that knit this community closer and closer together in an awesome way—a way that will some day be a giant celebration when diabetes is cured once and for all.
However, intertwined with this I get to see the other parts of the members of the DOCs life—tweets of skiing and school and rock shows and travel. The stuff I can identify well with. And these are the days I like best—even though engaged in constant battle, I think that we learn about one another best from how our health integrates with the rest of our lives—to form that balance that creates hope.
Thank you to EVERYONE in the DOC for welcoming me into your journeys, for sharing your passion, your hope and your community with me—as a PWoD [person without diabetes]on the outside. Thank you for the conversation, the fun, and for helping to engage me into this fight alongside all of the very cool people that I’ve encountered because of your community.
Keep being the community of rockstar d-warriors that you are and engaging in the love of cupcakes with me—I didn’t know the whole cupcakes thing was a thing in the DOC before a few weeks ago, but when I found that out, I knew that my PWoD self would probably fit in just fine ;).