Diabetes is probably one of the most misunderstood conditions on the planet. It is the only disease that I know of that people blatantly blame the victim and are rarely criticized for doing so.
If you ask any person with diabetes what the best thing about having diabetes is they will be hard pressed to find anything. There is a new obsession with food. They are forced to watch the clock. There is never an off day. There is no end or day a when the “medicine” will cure them. There just is a new life with diabetes to learn about and accept.
If you ask them if there is anything good at all that diabetes has brought into their lives you might hear…I eat better. You might be told “I exercise more.”
There is one incredible and amazing thing that comes with a diagnosis of diabetes however. It is the family that welcomes you in. The diabetes online community is an amazing place filled with the most amazing people.
Sixteen years ago, I reached out in search of “parents of children with diabetes”. I had no idea what I would find. Sixteen years later, I still sit in awe of it. I found a family.
Some people will balk. Some people won’t understand. Once upon a time, I would have been upset that they didn’t get it. Today I am grateful when they don’t get it. If they don’t understand, it is probably because they have never had a disease like diabetes move into their homes. If they don’t understand, they probably have never sat with a toddler who is throwing up and passing out at the same time. If they don’t understand, they have probably never curled up on their couch in the dark and cried because no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t fix their loved one. For that I am happy.
For those of us who do understand those emotions, there is a community like no other. Last month I wrote about a loss in that community. I told you how it was shaken and how, as a family, we came together to support a family who had supported all of us for so many years.
Family doesn’t just come together in the bad times. I first reached out to the online community 16 years ago. Since then, my children have grown. My friends children have grown. Some who were then babies are now teens. Some of the children are now married and are now parents themselves. Time is flying by.
As an online community, we share these milestones with each other through our keyboards. I see pictures of new babies. I sit amazed at the young men and women graduating from post-secondary institutions. Where did the time go?
The best part of it all though, is seeing that some of the friendships forged over a keyboard have spilled out into the real world. As I looked through wedding pictures that an friend posted this weekend, I am touched to see that the photographer was a person that the family met through our online family. On the other side of the lens, are pictures of the wedding party. In the wedding party is another child with diabetes…she met the bride because of diabetes. They met through their parents. They live in different countries but that didn’t matter. They became the best of friends because they are both just wonderful young ladies.
This isn’t the first time that I have seen pictures like this–friends joined by a life-altering disease coming together to celebrate. There have been weddings. There have been vacations and dinners.
Diabetes sucks. Diabetes is evil. Diabetes is misunderstood by the majority of the people who don’t live with it and even some who do. Diabetes causes sleepless nights and more grey hairs than I should have at this point in my life.
The diabetes online community however has brought the most amazing people together. It has somehow created a family out of complete strangers. It knows no borders. It just knows unconditional love and support. I continue to be in awe and feel so proud to be a part of it.