Next Easter, I will have lived with type 1 diabetes for 40 years. And for 37 of those 40 years, I never embraced another person living with diabetes as a friend. It was not personal rebuke for others who had diabetes, but felt I would not know how to relate to someone else.
All my friends always made the comment, "I never knew you had diabetes!" I am active and athletic and my eating habits have never revealed that I had diabetes in an obvious way. What would I say to another person with diabetes? I didn't want to talk about diabetes care, or how many times I had been in the hospital or the problems that one might face living with diabetes.
What influenced me to write for MyDiabetesCentral was my personal medical experience. I had so much hesitation about writing my story! To tell the truth, sharing my story has helped with my diabetes care, I have more strategies to care for myself, and I am a local advocate who speaks about living with D.
In the last 3 years, my life has become filled with friends who are also living with diabetes! I started writing shareposts, but more importantly, I started reading about everyone else's journey. People who wanted to share their frustration, success, interests, love life, lack of love and how diabetes has affected their life! Many have been heartfelt, because of the health issues that surround so many living with diabetes. I found I empathy and sympathy as well as excitement for achievement!
As a result, I started surfing the web looking at many sites. From sites owned by one individual, to other communities and I realized there is a growing surge for not just information, but friendship; the real word is community!
My friend Ginger is a great example of what has happened when I allowed diabetes to be part of who I am! Ginger Vieira is one of my daily heroes! She and I may have an age gap of over 20 years, but we are in touch all the time! We share hardships, successes and the daily grind of just being people on this planet. She's a writer, power lifting phenom, and has a twin brother who is completely opposite in physique! But Pete is her strongest ally and emotional mentor, and she treasures her relationship with him. This is friendship, I know Ginger outside of living with diabetes, but what created the opening for that friendship was a commonality called diabetes!
Diabetes also gives this friendship a unique bond. When Ginger had a low blood sugar one night, she emailed me. Ginger, who lives alone, is very capable of handling this, but it was an unusual email and I was a little concerned so I called to check on her. Five years ago, I would never have imagined my life to include this, but it does and it's been incredibly freeing!
My list of "d-friends" gets longer every day! This morning, I got an email from Kelly Kunik, and it read' Subject: Saw this listing for Diabetes & Yoga & of course thought of u!" Surprisingly, d friends are sharing, there is not the competitive nature of business and for me, and it makes this experience even more rewarding! Twitter has been a big place to find lots of d friends. That's how I found Kelly!