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The Importance of the Diabetes Community

Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

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The Importance of the Diabetes Community

Scott Benner

For those of you who are new to Arden's Day...

I do a little freelance writing some times. Once a year I write a series for Insulet, the company that makes the Omnipod insulin pump. It is no secret that when I'm paid to contribute articles the company paying me is hoping that my blog readers will checkout their blog, site, products etc. Hopefully they also like my writing, but I digress. 

When I negotiate my writing contracts I always push to be able to repost what I've written here on Arden's Day. There are two reasons for that. 1. I don't want you to feel pressure to visit another site and 2. I don't want to hand in less than my best work in an effort to keep the 'good stuff' for Arden's Day, and for you. This way it's all the 'good stuff' and you can read it where you'd like. Alllllllll that said, this is the first in my five part series on the Diabetes Community. It ran on Insulet's Suite D blog one month ago (I have to wait a month to post here). Part 2 is up now on their blog as well, you can read it on Suite D or wait until next month and I'll repost it on Arden's Day. One last word on this. While I am paid to write for Insulet, it's not nearly as much money as you may be imagining and besides, there is no amount of money that could make me pass information or sentiments to you that are anything less than my 100% real feelings and experiences. This blog, our community and the responsibility that I feel toward you all means too much to me for anything like that to every happen. I just love the Omnipod and am happy to tell people about it. And you know what? Good on Insulet for letting me repost here, they couldn't have been thrilled when I made that request. 

Part 1: How it Saved Our Family

When my daughter Arden was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006, our family was violently thrown into a world that we didn’t understand. The days, weeks and months that followed were full of endless sadness, fear and moments that hindsight would later tell us we could have handled much better.

I’m choosing to share my largest diabetes misstep from that time in our lives, because it led me to what may be the most valuable discovery of my adult life. This is part one of my five-part series about community and how it will save, support, teach, improve and transform your life with diabetes.

I should have sought out other people who understood our struggles, I should have found community. Too many of the decisions I was making were informed by speculation that was fed by an often self-imposed and largely unnecessary fear.

What I needed was support and wisdom, but instead I hid from the world and, in doing so, created a vacuum that was not conducive to living well. Had I found other people living with diabetes sooner, they could have shown me what I now know, but took much too long to discover.

Arden and Kelly at our first JDRF walk, two months after diagnosis.

Arden and Kelly at our first JDRF walk, two months after diagnosis.

My first experience meeting other people from the diabetes community was at our local JDRF walk. The walk we attend goes through a park full of winding paths, steep hills and majestic scenery – countless thousands of people all moving forward in love and support of one another.

At some point during the morning Arden needed insulin. We had just stepped off the path so others could pass when I realized that pausing our life to give Arden insulin didn’t seem in any way noteworthy to the people passing by. And then it hit me.

Everyone here has or loves someone who has diabetes. They don’t look scared and their faces don’t reflect the sadness that I feel. We were suddenly and beautifully surrounded by people whose lives weren’t being defined by diabetes. It was right then that I began to believe that diabetes wasn’t always going to permeate every second of our lives.

To this day I believe that the most beneficial aspect of what the JDRF provides is the opportunity to find sameness. If those walks didn’t produce a dime for research, I would still be there each year just to spend a little time around people who understand. Each year when I walk, my greatest hope is that someone who is feeling as I once did will see our faces and think, “I’m not alone. Those people look happy – we can be happy too.”

Community can take many forms and often the support you need can’t wait for a moment that can be found in real life – you may need the community to come to you. Luckily, the diabetes community is one of the most well-represented patient communities online. There are so many different ways to find kind, helpful and present people who would love nothing more than to help you believe that living well with diabetes is a tangible goal. These people have walked the path that you are on – they know the shortcuts. They write blogs, take the time to lend an ear on forums and give their best advice on Facebook pages. You haven’t been hugged until you’ve been hugged virtually by a stranger whose only desire is for you to not feel alone. Now that’s support!

Read 'The Importance of the Diabetes Community' Series
Part 1: Currently Reading
Part 2: Finding Support
Part 3: Coming in April
Part 4: Coming in May
Part 5: Coming in June
 

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