For every one of my diabetic friends, this one's for you.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Thorpe Park with my sister, her boyfriend and our cousin, it's a massive place, lots of people, filled with the noise of excited shrieks of people riding the rollercoasters, scrambling to the front of various queues, waiting to get splashed by the water as Tidal Wave comes surging down the drop...So many characters, so many people, all living very different lives. Upon boarding the boat on Storm Surge, a boy in front of me looks at me and says;
"Be careful with that...!" Puzzled, I'm like, "Hmm...be careful with what?"
"Your Insulin Pump!" ..."Oh right yeah, thanks!" Honestly at this point my first thought was, oh how cool that this boy knows what an insulin pump is! Then he pulled out his own; "Look, I have one too!" In my excitement I say "What are the chances?" and then...slap my sister's boyfriend on the knee- sorry, Jeremy! Later on in the day I saw another girl queuing up ahead of us, an omnipod stuck to the back of her arm. Then I realised that even in such a vast place, with so many people, I am still not alone in this, I realised that I probably walk past so many Type 1 Diabetics every single day and don't even realise it- 400,000 of us make up the 5% of people that live with Type 1 and so many of us have no idea that one another even exist!
Then it made me think about the Diabetes Online Community, and how brilliant it is that we are all connected. How many times have you heard/seen a post from a newly diabetic person talking about how alone they feel? I feel like that is one of the most common reactions, to feel alone in this fight, to feel like you're the only one out there who will ever understand what this is like- and it's so easy to feel like this, I think because this disease requires so much attention from the person living with it and you rely on yourself to act as your own pancreas 24/7, it can feel isolating. I have made so many wonderful connections, there are so many people I can turn to who will understand exactly what it's like. As much as our family help us, it's so hard for them to fully understand what we go through, so speaking and knowing other Type 1 Diabetics is such an important part of living with Type 1.
But that's because I'm engaged. A lot of young people will turn away from their diagnosis and refuse to engage in it, they will be in denial, they won't want to accept it. That itself is such a barrier, I know there are probably so many other people out there who don't have the same mindset as the DOC and so will never be open to it, will never discover this whole other side of a life with diabetes. The side that teaches you that you will have rough times with this disease but it will get easier, the side that teaches you that you are not alone, the side that shows you all the amazing things you can still accomplish despite your disease.
To all my diabetic friends, to every one I've ever connected with, even if we only spoke once, know that it's valuable, and that you're valuable to every other diabetic person you've ever spoken to. Even if we don't know it, subconsciously, it helps to talk, it helps to be connected.