Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What is diabetes freedom?

My buddy Don and myself recently completed the JDRF mentor training program.  The mentor training is for people who have diabetes for some time to be matched with newbies that have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we mentor them on the things medical professionals can't help out with like integrating life and diabetes together. If I have one thing that I advocate for the most is, to get as many people with diabetes together or to communicate in any possible way and to allow them to discuss any and every part of diabetes that affects their life.  It can be such an isolation disease and growing up and hearing all the horror stories of peoples relatives and grandparents who didn't take care of themselves and had fingers and toes cut off.  Then the diabetes police monitoring every move I make or the people who have read the inquirer and heard about how eating something random like cheese, aloe vera juice, and cinnamon cures diabetes in dead mice or something.  That only makes us be that much more isolated because if we don't tell anyone that we have diabetes then no one will know and sometimes that is a good thing, and sometimes it is a bad thing.  Like when I was thought to be shoplifting but I just walked out of the store with my stuff I didn't buy and laid on the concrete in front of the store till the police showed up and they realized that I was either the worst thief or had something wrong with me.  So they had the fire people show up and give me some of that D50 stuff and all was good.  For some reason the couldn't see the massive silver medical alert bracelet on my arm, or the card in my wallet, or not even the funny insulin pump on my hip. 
So Back to mentor training class, we learned a lot but were kind of sad when they let us know that since about half the people there were random adults with Type 1 diabetes that we probably will never get to be a mentor because they like to match random moms with other random moms that have kids of the same age together as a match and they just don't get many newly diagnosed adults so they appreciate us coming but really didn't need us.  Which then that got an interesting discussion started.  As kids with type 1 diabetes we are constantly assisted by our parents and family members with it all.  Schools help us out by teachers being pissed off that we are low during a test and about to die but sure Dave just go get some juice from the nurse to live.  Which they have to tell use once we come back that we really need to take better care of ourselves and not have that happen again during their class time, sorry that might accidentally be something that happened to me in 9th grade.  Anyways back to my interesting thought on life and diabetes.  When we graduate from school and go off into our lives for work, vocational training, or college it seems that all this support stuff and everything just goes away. 

I went through a lot of diabetes depression after high school and really just said "F this" and stopped caring about my blood sugars or anything like that.  Then I just started going to the doctor once every six months to get prescriptions updated and I basically just forgot that I had diabetes but to test like once or twice a day and to shoot up enough insulin to keep me from getting sick.  I then had a hot diabetes educator that I loved seeing (for all the obvious reasons) and she was a type 1 as well (she was married but heck maybe she could help out a fellow diabetic with a friend or something) and she started a diabetes support group.  I was a bit scared about it at first because I had this fear of being in the same place with someone with the same disease and they are judging me or what I thought diabetes camp would be like when my mom asked me if I wanted to go as a kid.  All I could imagine are those Nazi war camps that all the people were starving at.  That is what I thought diabetes camp would be like.  So I finally went to the meeting and turns out it was a life changing experience.  I learned that I was not the only one with diabetes that have ever been high or had issues controlling it.  I then wanted to always know diabetics and have them in my life as people I can turn to and get advice, help or good comedy from.

The mentor class started this discussion as to how can we visit people with diabetes who haven't seen a doctor in a while or are having withdraw and loneliness feelings.  The sad thing is that we can't intrude into peoples lives and force them to be kick ass like myself or all my buddies and to make non diabetics jealous because we look like we are having the times of our lives.  I once had a coworker who couldn't stand the smell of smoke or the act of smoking, but they wanted every smoker to take their smoke brakes and to enjoy smoking.  I thought this was so odd but they told me something that I will never forget and which I actually put into my own life.  They said to me that freedom isn't standing up for your own rights and beliefs, it's standing up for the rights and beliefs of those that you don't believe in.  He told me that if they take smoking away then what is going to stop them from taking something away that he enjoys doing.  That really hit something in me and I guess that is why I am glad gay people can get married, why should we have divorce to only straight people?  They should get the right to enjoy it as well, same thing with medical drugs or alcohol and that vapor stuff.  I don't want any part of it but I do enjoy that it is a choice for me not to do.  That is the same thing with adult type 1 diabetics, its sad that we all aren't in cool kid diabetes groups and stuff but it is our freedom to be three toed sloth looking or bitter at the world.  I just want every type 1 diabetic on the planet to have the knowledge and opportunity to live half the diabetes life I live or to be around half the diabetic people I have been around in my life.  So I will keep spreading the word that there is always a group for you if you have type 1 diabetes, you just have to be receptive to it all.