Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Power of Communication

Welcome back.
As always I'm writing about diabetes today. Again. However this one is for anyone with a long-term medical condition. What works for diabetes works for other pains in the arse too.
I'm often rambling on about how great the Diabetes Online Community is and how it gives you the ability to connect with people who can share the frustrations and annoyance at living with diabetes. 

It also frustrates me that there are potentially vast numbers of people with diabetes who are still travelling along life thinking that everyone else with diabetes has got it mastered and they are the only 'bad diabetic'. 

I'm very fortunate that by doing this blog I'm occasionally contacted by someone who is reaching out for the first time and wanting to feel that they are not on their own. 

I wanted to share with you an example of this as it's made me feel warm inside at how their life has changed. (Although everything is anonymous I have the person's permission to share this story). 

Back in January I got an email from someone who was reaching the peak of frustration with their diabetes. Amongst others things they said to me was:

"I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2013 and feel absolutely defeated! My glucose control is fairly, to put it bluntly, mental. I see my consultant every month (even though it should be every 3-6) and I do everything he tells me, yet he won't give me the go-ahead for a pump despite my conscious efforts still leading to poor control." 

This person had only been diagnosed a couple of years ago but was getting more and more upset at how they were being treated by their healthcare team and wanted some advice on whether they had any chance of turning it around. Through exchanges of emails we quickly agreed that they weren't useless and that to move forward they needed to own their own numbers and if they weren't getting the care they needed then this could be challenged. 

To be fair to this person, they pretty much knew as much as me but I gave you them the confidence to not be ashamed of anything and challenge where it was appropriate. 

I was also very fortunate to be able to signpost them to other sites and groups for further support. In this case I mentioned:
INPUT Diabetes
GBDOC
OurD

This week I received another email from them that just filled me with happiness:

"I feel like singing off of a rooftop as I have met a couple of people my age in my area with Type 1 and it's absolutely invaluable and indescribable how it feels to talk to someone who 'gets it'. You have really opened my eyes to the diabetes world out there and I am ever so thankful! I've met some absolutely wonderful people. Yay!"

Through sending one small email this person now has a local peer to peer support network - which is a fancy way of just saying 'group of friends close by'. 

In the space of five months they've turned their approach to diabetes around and by connecting with someone else they've changed their future for the positive. My role wasn't much really as I just gave a few tips and pointed towards other groups that would give them the specific detail they needed to make any changes needed. From this they owned their diabetes again and went looking elsewhere to connect even more.

I feel very fortunate to have been involved but now know that for it to be truly successful this person has to encourage others in the same way. The diabetes community is huge but at the same time small. For some people speaking online and ultimately face to face with other people with diabetes is just not for them. That's fine. But there are plenty of people who don't connect through not knowing about it or a fear of being judged. It's really not like that!

My journey into the online world started in a similar way with the help of Mike at Every Day Ups and Downs and Tim and Alison at Shoot Up or Put Up.

There are plenty of bloggers and writers out there and if you're reading this thinking that you'd love to connect or get help but don't want to be judged or made to feel useless then don't hold back. Most blogs have a 'Contact' button, so use it. Find writers who you like the writing of and let them know it. If you have a look at the links on the right of this page there are a few to start with. It's that simple. At the very least it will confirm to us that we're not only writing for close family - Hi Mum! Without sounding like Billy Graham or Barry Scott it could change your life in such a positive way.

Thank you so much to the person I've been quoting today for allowing me to share and their job now is to encourage others. The power of a community of peers to change individual lives for the better cannot be underestimated. 

Thank you, you and yes you, for reading. 



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