The Importance of the Diabetes Community Part 4: Believing and Improving

Posted by scott on Fri, 08/21/2015 - 11:00 in

Join Scott Benner, author of the award-winning parenting memoir, “Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Dad,” for a five-part series on how the diabetes community can help save, support, teach, improve and transform lives.

Support from the diabetes community did more for me than initially I expected it could. Not only did it help my family to live well, but it also gave my daughter better outcomes. And somewhere along the way my heart was remade. I was suddenly able to move on from the fear and anger that diagnosis brought, finally believing that I possessed the knowledge, support and fortitude to conquer our roadblocks. With my uncertainty lifted I was able to take what the community taught me and begin to use those tools to support a healthy life for my daughter and my family.

Please don’t get me wrong, we weren’t doing badly with what the doctor ordered, but when we mixed their guidance with peer support, more than a few wonderful things happened – a much lower A1c, the elimination of random highs and lows, more freedom and less stress are but a few of them.

There was a time that I wouldn’t pre bolus insulin, I would always underestimate carbs to be on “the safe side” and sleeping seemed like a luxury that I could not afford. The thought of leaving Arden, even for a moment felt ludicrous and I was certain that our lives were always going to be informed by fear. But then I found the diabetes community and they supported me in a way that taught me how to live again. Once I could believe that what they showed me was real, I was able to trust the idea that fear shouldn’t rule us and then I put that lesson into practice. Like in a fairy tale the darkness was lifted, diabetes and fear didn’t have to go together anymore and we were saved. Saved by the generosity of people who were willing to share their lives so we could live ours.

But as they say, the devil is in the details and this is the toughest step of your journey to take. It’s easy to tell someone to be bold when they manage diabetes and even comforting to witness another take that advice, but how do you make the leap in your own life? The answer is carefully and only when you are comfortable. But when that time comes, it’s about the best thing that you can imagine. It’s the difference between digging a pit with your hands and someone bringing you a backhoe and showing you how to use it. Relief doesn’t get sweeter than the kind that comes when you look diabetes in the face and say, “That’s enough, I’ll be taking our life back now!”

A diabetes diagnosis is shocking and being knocked over by it is understandable. Needing help getting up is human, taking time to learn the ropes makes sense and being apprehensive about fighting back is just part of the journey but it is a fight that when properly prepared for – you will win every time.

When I witnessed first-hand the possibilities that community support offered, I wanted very much to get past the part of our life where I was scared to try, because I was excited to get to the part where I would be able to thoughtfully offer my support to others. Sometimes I think that the desire to help others in the way that I was helped is what gave me the courage to meet diabetes head on without fear.