Friday, April 25, 2014

Feeling Alone?

alone with dSadly I think that at some point everyone feels alone and isolated.  When you first hear that diagnosis of “diabetes”, you may be overwhelmed, confused, and dazed.  What does it all mean? Once you begin to realize what it means, often you then feel alone.  No one else truly understands what you are going through.  It can be terribly depressing and isolating.
If you are a parent, other parents do not understand why you hover over your child so often. Why is it that you don’t sleep at night? The child is controlled isn’t he/she?
As a person with diabetes, people may question your meal choices.  They may wonder if you are “faking it” when you tell them that your blood glucose level is off and you can’t be involved in that activity at the moment until it settles back in range.
No one really understands your worries.  They can’t see diabetes and they think that it’s not a big deal.  They seem to suggest that your fears are unfounded. You are just being paranoid.
Then you meet another person with diabetes…a total stranger quickly becomes a long-lost friend.  When you speak, you find yourself lost in a world of like–they test like you.  They count carbs like you.  They know what a high feels like.  They understand not being able to do anything when you are low.  They know what a pump is and have a glucometer that they carry with them! You belong!
For someone who doesn’t have diabetes, this may sound a bit extreme.  If you live with diabetes, this is very familiar.  I remember the first time I spoke on the phone with a stranger who had a daughter diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes the month before my son.  We talked for an hour.  She was a complete stranger but she understood dealing with lows in a toddler. She had desperately searched for a sugary treat that her baby would eat at that critical time as well. She got it! She was living it too.
The first time I went to a diabetes related event, the emotions were no less intense. Everyone had a glucometer.  Everyone knew the carbs in each food item or at least offered their best guesses.  There were insulin pumps and needles brought out with the food. This was “normal” and it felt wonderful and safe.
Meeting people online can also be helpful.  To reach out and know that there is someone there who gets it and has been there can be sanity saving.  The very first time I reached out online to a group from the website and received help…well my world changed forever.
Today there are many websites and social media groups that offer support.  They will answer questions, share information, and understand what you are feeling.
For months, I have been thinking about these two things…social media support and real life interactions.  How would you best combine them? Ideally you wouldn’t.  Everyone would be able to gather at diabetes events, feel the love, and be refreshed but in real life that isn’t always possible.  What could I do? I could host a Google Hangout!
Google offers its own unique way of gathering people called a hangout.  The idea is that a group of friends, family, work colleagues, or strangers, can get together in realtime, using audio and video to talk.  I therefore thought it would be a perfect place to host a virtual support group meeting.
If you are feeling isolated and alone, or just want to enjoy some conversation, grab your headphones and microphone and join me in Google Hangout on Tuesday April 29th at 7pm EST. If people are interested and enjoy the opportunity, I will work on making this a monthly event.
So mark down the date, check out the link, and join me…or let me know that you wanted to join me but something came up and you want to be a part of the next one!

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