Monday, April 4, 2011

In celebration of the DOC

I don’t know if it’s the blind optimism that comes with New Year but something within me is looking to shout out in celebration

This post has really been six months in the making. In many ways it is just like diabetes management, full of inexplicable contradictions. It is both extremely easy and very difficult to write at the same time. The words flow from my mind in a jumbled mess as I try (probably unsuccessfully) to put them into some kind of coherent prose.

It all began with reading a simple online blog. After a long time in the diabetes “wilderness” post diagnosis I found myself swamped with feelings of guilt and isolation. Not only did I find diabetes almost impossible to talk to my friends about...things just did not always work the way they were meant to. It seemed that I was destined to be a “diabetic failure” always getting things wrong.

My exposure to the DOC showed me for the first time that the feelings of “inadequacy” and “guilt” were perfectly normal in diabetes. From one blog I came across another, then another, until finally I came to the “showcase” the real jewel in the DOC crown...The (US Eastern time) Wednesday evening DSMA Twitter chat with a huge shout out to its fearless moderator Cherise. Here was a place where I immediately felt at home. Here I found tens, even hundreds of people, all feeling exactly the same way as I did, battling with the same emotions, suffering similar defeats and winning similar victories. Here diabetes was talked about candidly and approached with a sense of humor that came from so many great and colorful personalities all interacting in real time.

This encounter however has led me to an unexpected problem in my personal surroundings. Amongst my circle of acquaintances chronic illness is a thing of great shame, a shame that heaped “guilt” on top of the normal problems of my diabetes management. Meeting so many great people online has taught me that there is indeed no shame in diabetes. Whilst it is certainly no cause for celebration, it is nothing to feel “guilty” about. This has left me in a kind of awkward position. I am no longer content to hide my diabetes from those around me. I want the feeling of glorious normality” I get from the DSMA chat to extend to my everyday life...

In many ways my blog has been the first point of connection between me “the diabetic” and the me amongst my acquaintances. Here, alone in my room, I feel I can freely address the good and bad side of living with diabetes on a daily basis. I don’t really know if anyone actually reads what I write but the release is tangible. Writing helps me to feel connected to so many others I have met in the DOC, for I find my words echoed in their blogs and vice versa. Diabetes is truly an illness best treated in “community”.

Insulin and fingersticks may well be essential accessories to healthy living (survival even) but there is no feeling like that of connection. The knowledge that I am not some kind of “freak” or “failure” is one that no medical text book or endocrinologist could (or will) ever impart. The more blogs I read and the more twitter chats I take part in, the more I feel the chains breaking. I am no world beater, (in fact I have faced several diabetic complications) but in “community I am one of many. I am strengthened by the struggles of others, I am renewed by your victories, I am brought to tears with your loss and I am led to uncontrollable laughter by your irony and sense of humor.

The DOC is a place of reality and humanity. As another year begins I am honoured to start it with those of you I have met online. Thank you for accepting me as I am and for the first time since diagnosis in a hospital A&E making me feel “normal”

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