I was diagnosed with diabetes nine days before my 22nd birthday. I was a senior in college, and had lived away from home for the previous four years. Having been sent to the ER in the middle of the night, I actually waited to see if I was going to be admitted before I called my mom. I was an “adult” – wasn’t I supposed to handle this on my own?
I don’t think my mom cared how old I was as she asked the doctors every question that she could think of about our new life. Once I was released from the hospital, I went to her house to recover for a few more days. A local family of a son with diabetes stopped by to check in on us. I was apparently too old for the “Bag of Hope” and it was years until I found the online community (I’m not sure it even existed then), so this was the only connection to living with diabetes that I had at the time.
I still remember one of the first questions my mom asked her new ally.
“Can she still have her birthday cake?”
Fast forward to a little over a month ago. One of my jobs in the You Can Do This Project booth at Friends for Life was to record the videos of people ready to share their story. It was my own bit of selfish advocacy (as Kim helped me appreciate) because it made me feel better while dealing with a difficult time.
I walked Wendy over to a quiet corner, and she began telling the story of her daughter’s diagnosis and her own questions about this new time in their lives. Her daughter was diagnosed at an age about twenty years younger than I was, but her worries were the same worries that my mom shared with our new friend what had been only a few years before.
That is the power of the diabetes community. We all have different stories of diagnosis, choices of treatment, and methods of advocacy. But through all that there is something that unites us all.
There is power in the same.