kicking it with the DOC – a PWoD learning from the diabetes online community

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 ;).


29 thoughts on “kicking it with the DOC – a PWoD learning from the diabetes online community

  1. um, so you are my new favorite person! this is beautiful! you’re gonna make me cry! thanks for hanging out with us and taking an interest! and you’re right- a big part of advocacy is empathy.

    the DOC is lucky to have you! 🙂

    • Awww thank you Jess! 🙂 I can’t wait to get to know you better–and the rest of the DOC of course! Thank YOU for sharing your story with us!

  2. This post is just AWEsome, Kerri! Thank you so much for writing it, and for offering your readers a glimpse into our world. The DOC needs more good friends like you.

    • Thank YOU for the post idea, Mike! :). Hopefully, in time there will become an army of PWoD diabetes advocates for all of us to rock with :).

  3. awww Love it! … I’ve had so much fun getting to know you! You’ve helped me push myself through a few hikes w/your positive tweets! ❤ ((HUGS))

    • And I LOVE seeing the pictures of your hikes 😀 — Southern California is gorgeous and I am filled with “Airplane, please!” 😉
      ❤ right back! And cupcakes to you and Mr. Coach Wise! 😀

    • Personally I’d quite like another chocolate cupcake with chocolate fondant infused with vanilla icing ;), that one was pretty rad.
      I love the DOC! And I hope your friends and family perhaps get their interest sparked in something so awesome and important to you, because I love learning and having fun with you guys! 🙂

    • Aw, thank YOU, Sarah Jane! If you’re interested, drop an email to kerriontheprairies[@] and I can tell you more about what the asthma community is up to :).

  4. I hadn’t realized that you don’t have diabetes and are not a caregiver for someone with diabetes (aka a “type 3”). I must admit to being a bit curious about your asthma, since my sister developed asthma in her late 20’s or early 30’s and has quite a number of issues with most asthma medications; I’ve also had a co-worker who, for reasons of asthma, was continuously on steroids from her early 30’s as well as having some sort of oxygen assistance at home. What is “typical” for adults with asthma, and what makes yours “worse”?

    • Nopers, just a health advocate who at some point found herself surrounded by the DOC on Twitter ;).

      I’ll drop you an e-mail about the asthma stuff — I have far too much to say for an appropriately sized comment! 😀

  5. Wow. This is so cool that you read our tweets and are getting so involved in our community!!! So glad to see we are making an impact.
    I am going to start following your blog as well. My husband is asthmatic and it’s something I need to know more about. His doctor (who happens to be a diabetic as well!) is good, but sometimes it seems my husband questions him more than trusts him. It would be nice to see what others have to say who live with asthma as opposed to just a doctor’s voice.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Depending on what sort of doctor he’s seeing, they typically don’t know a ton about asthma I find — probably similar to how you might feel about dealing with your diabetes with a family doc. I’ve tweeted ya some more info — thanks for stopping by! 🙂 [PS. I love your blog name ;)]

  6. Nice post, Kerri! Tho what do you mean we don’t have passion? Dude? Oh wait… I’m not an asthma blogger anymore (I tend to forget that sometimes… :P). Hah.

    Hi DOC people! *waves*

    • LOL, I didn’t mean that you/we DON’T have passion, but you should SEE these guys advocate. It’s more than World Diabetes Day to them, you know what I mean? We hype it up for World Asthma Day and then kind of fade out and forget to tell people that asthma exists and needs to be dealt with.

  7. Great post, Kerri.

    As another PWoD, I’ve somehow found myself picking up a growing number of diabetes blogs on my blog roll recently, it’s given me a whole new insight into the realities of living with diabetes, despite knowing a number of PWD IRL.

    • I know only one PWD IRL personally, a T1, so learning from these guys is AWESOME for me in knowing what she deals with. Thanks for reading, Tash!

  8. Awesome post, Kerri, thanks!

    I have a lot of PWD in my life (everyone above age 55 in my extended family is T2, and everyone but two people over age 50 are prediabetes or T2 – and that’s not including the PWD that I’m not related to), but I’m not exactly educated on the subject. Sad to say, sometimes I’d rather squeeze my eyes shut, plug my ears and yell “Lalalalaa!” as if that’ll prevent my family history from catching up to me.

    Definately, we could learn from diabetes awareness, though. Diabetes and asthma seem to have a number of similarities: those who are ignorant assume common = not serious, and tend to brush it off as “take your medicine and you’ll be fine, right?” (my gradma’s ulcers and my great aunt’s diabetes-induced dementia testify to the contrary).

    This served as the kick in my behind to get me to learn more about the disorder so I can relate better to the people in my family who deal with it. “Head in the sand” doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t there, it just means that you won’t see it coming when it’s trying to bite you!

    • Thanks Sarah!
      I’m happy that I can maybe open a few more eyes to the realities that are out there through posts like this. I totally appreciate the amount of support that this post has generated — hopefully the DOC will gain some more PWoD supporters to fight alongside their daily battles :).

  9. Awesome post! I also wanted to say I follow both Kerris’ blogs, and just found this really inspiring. Because I don’t have diabetes either, or anyone in my family, but I like following along with the DOC because I can relate to health issues and trying to eat healthier. But this inspired me because I realized you’ve all changed me, and that I am your advocate too, because I have some knowledge of what Type 1 diabetes is like….and am happy to educate and advocate about it :). Maybe we could do like a condition exchange and learn to advocate for each other…which is way cool because it gets more people involved and really would change things in society in a good way!! Awesome.

    • Very cool thoughts, Melissa! I’ve actually been chatting asthma on Twitter with the DOC in the last couple days, which has been good for many of us I think! 🙂

  10. Reading your post made me smile, jump up and down and I wanted to reach through my iPhone to give you a huge hug! Kerri-I am so happy and blessed to have met you. You totally are a member of the DOC! Thank you for supporting use, advocating for us and learning about life with diabetes. You are a gem.

    Be Blessed

    Now, it’s your move on words with friends. Lol I was confused and made you confused haha

    • Hi Cherise — thank you!! 🙂 I feel so blessed to be a part of this movement that you guys have been creating and continue to create–and it’s fueling inspiration I can take back to the small-but-growing asthma community.

      The world needs to change, and the DOC is ROCKING just that. Thanks to you ALL for facilitating greatness — and thank YOU for the great chats! 🙂

      –I’m trying to make a move in Words now ;).

  11. This quote is brilliant

    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

    I don’t have asthma and have no idea what you go thru, so it might seem that we really have little in common.

    But we both know that we don’t know . And that gives us a very solid starting place to learn from each other

    Great post!!

    • Thank you, Soctt! I totally think a big part in advocacy is truly admitting when you just don’t know and being REAL about it, but still being willing to learn. And I’m looking forward to learning even more from the stories of the DOC. 🙂

  12. I think a blog post like this is, seriously, the ultimate goal of any of us who blog about our diabetes or Facebook about it or Tweet or even just talk about it to the people we love and meet. You’re so sweet! So happy to come across the link to your blog today. I’ll keep reading. :o)

  13. Eh. I don’t like the way I said “the ultimate goal”. It’s more like I’d like to see just a sliver of the empathy you have shown be extended by some of the people I come across day in, day out.

    Ok, I like the way that sounds better. :o)

    • Hi Amy!
      I get what you mean either way :). Thank you for stopping by and reading! I think it’s important for us PWoDs to be educated about what PWDs really deal with, and from the responses I’ve gotten on this post, I guess it’s important that WE tell you what we’re thinking too, eh? 🙂

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