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The Power Of A Community: A Paradigm Shift To Be Grateful For

Last week (was it only a week ago?  My time-space continuum is completely off kilter these days), I was out in San Francisco for a quick visit at the Lifescan Town Hall meeting.

Okay, I was actually in Milpitas, which is a nice little place that the driver from the airport inadvertently described as, “Why are you going there?” Not exactly the same excitement as the home of the Golden Gate Bridge and other sights I saw from the car, but close.

I was asked to come out and talk about life with diabetes to a large group of Lifescan employees (they make the One Touch meters and they clearly like people who play guitar because Crystal Bowersox and B.B. King are their buddies, so I felt a little musically inept).  I wasn’t asked to talk about my meter, or my pump, or to pimp out any partnerships, etc.  They just wanted to hear about life with diabetes.  Plain life.  Real life.

Because I don’t have a formal bone in my body (all of my bones are in sweatpants and baseball caps), and because I didn’t have any airs to put on, I just stood on that stage showed them our community.  I showed them some of our blogs, and talked about some of our meet-ups.  I showed them that while life with diabetes can be challenging, the power of a diabetes community makes life with diabetes inspiring.

“I didn’t know many people at all who had diabetes, like me, growing up.  But now, I think I know more people who don’t make their own insulin than those who do.  That’s a paradigm shift, and one I’m very grateful for.”

And I impressed upon them that they are part of this diabetes community, as well.  Initiatives that serve our needs (medical device companies, drug companies, advocacy organizations, behavioral health organizations, local JDRF and ADA chapters, etc upon etc) expand the boundaries of the greater diabetes community.  We, as PWD, are less alone than we ever have been before.

It’s really an honor, being asked to describe our community to people who are just getting to know us.  I feel this strange rush of pride when people ask me how the Internet has affected my health.  “It’s made a world of difference;  it’s changed the scope of how I view my diabetes, and my potential.”  I love talking about the people I’ve met through the blogosphere. (“Cara‘s accent will melt your heart!”  “And this is Christel … her baby’s smile will melt your heart.”)

And I love correcting people:  “So these are your internet friends?”  “Nah – they’re just friends.”

Now I want to talk about baseball.

Diabetes Month is a 30 day exercise in spreading awareness about diabetes and hopefully making a difference, big or small.  Whether you’re sharing your personal story, or the brutal facts about this disease, or working in some capacity to make people more aware of this condition that so many of us live with every day, you are making a difference.  I’m proud to be a part of a community where Diabetes Month is every month, and we’re all truly in this together.

[Disclosure:  Lifescan covered my lodging, travel, and suited me up with a very nice lavaliere microphone while I presented, and Animas provided an honorarium for my presentation.  But, as always, the opinions expressed were mine.  And the community is ours.]

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

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