Sunday, May 3, 2009

Strength In Numbers

Whether it's building a barn or bringing your A1C number down, a few helping hands make the job easier. Depending on where you live, help may be close at hand. For instance, many communities have diabetic support groups. These groups usually hold open meetings on a regular basis, and are always looking for new members. Many times, these sessions pass along information on new diabetes treatment, new medications and advancements in technology [glucose monitors, pumps, etc]. They are also places to ask questions, share concerns, pass along experiences.

People joining groups sometimes find they are a bit shy; first of all, there is no shame in not knowing something. There is only shame if fear keeps you ignorant. People in support groups are almost always happy to share their knowledge, experiences and, yes, support [why do you think they're called "support" groups?]. Yeah, I know the image at right is about condom use [and, by the bye, if you're sexually active with multiple partners, condom use is a pretty darn good idea!], but the message works here too; "Dare to speak up, or shyness will kill you" [an interesting, if disturbing factoid from the International Diabetes Federation: nearly 7 % of the world's deaths each year are related in some way to diabetes. That's about the same rate of deaths worldwide attributed to HIV/AIDS. This is not a game...]

So, how do you find a support group? A good way to start is by asking your doctor or diabetic educator [you do have a doctor and diabetic educator as part of your treatment team, right? If not, go back a few posts and read this entry about who should be a part of that team]; they're probably aware of support groups in your area. If you live in a country with a strong diabetes association, it may have an office in your area. Give them a call. Look through the "events" section of your local newspaper, support groups usually publicize their meetings as well as they can. Many hospitals sponsor, or at least host, support group meetings. Give them a call [ask for the hospital's diabetic educator, if they have one]. If all these fail, why not start a group yourself? Now, that's brave! But it is doable. Contact one of the people you spoke to before, and ask for their help.

Of course, some areas just don't have support groups. Perhaps starting such a group is just not possible for you. Maybe you can't get to support group meetings. Or maybe you see yourself as a "lone wolf" [some people do]. There are [surprise!surprise!] online support groups. One I stumbled on just recently, and one I think you should at least look at, is, an offshoot of the Diabetes Hands Foundation. A quick look at the discussion groups with in TuDiabetes reveals on-going entries on subjects as diverse as:

-pros and cons of glucose monitors

-users of one or more types of insulin

-questions and concerns of diabetics like you.

It's free to join, and, even if you find a good support group, it can serve as a source of information between group meetings [or give you something to talk about at that next meeting]. (Remember, any changes in your treatment should always be discussed with your doctor first.)

Don't let fear keep you out of the loop. Find a support group, check out TuDiabetes, stay informed! Knowledge is more than power; it's the first step in improving your health.

-Mike Riley


manny hernandez said...

Hi Mike,
I am glad you decided to join TuDiabetes and thankful for your words about the community. I hope your readers decide to join the TuDiabetes family, so we can continue to reach out to more people touched by diabetes!

Take care,

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