Everybody needs a friend
On Wednesday, I attended a JDRF Adult T1 Meet-Up coordinated jointly by two of the New Jersey chapters. I had been to a meet-up in New York City back in November, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of this one. Curiosity and the opportunity to expand my social circle are what brought me there.
I’m glad they call it a “meet-up” and not a “support group”. I didn’t to make it seem like I’m going somewhere because I need help. Emotionally, I’m okay with my diabetes*. Physiologically, I’m confident in my ability to try new things and make it better (note that I said “my ability to try”, and not “my ability to make it better “. Some experiments work, some don’t, and some require such a lifestyle change that I won’t even try). [* I realize how incredibly fortunate I am for that. I wish everyone else with diabetes could be the same.]
It’s just me, and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, but going to a “support group”, to me, suggests that I can’t do it on my own and I need help. After three decades with T1D, I’m confident that I kn0w-it-all, and while I’m happy to help others, there’s nothing that anybody can do for me (please try to suppress your hostile disagreements and read on). But I sure do welcome the companionship. And a “meet-up” is perfect for companionship.
Anyway, there were (if my memory isn’t failing me) ten of us PWD’s there:
- Maria, who I’d met previously;
- Veronica, who, in the past, I’d only met virtually (also the lone Animas pumper in the group);
- A woman who is involved in lots of other diabetes social groups (I forgot to ask about the Morristown Pumpers group – if you’re reading this, please contact me!);
- A guy who memorably introduced himself as “Nick from Brick“;
- A woman with T1D who also works with one of the pump companies;
- Two brothers with diabetes;
- Another hockey player (regrettably, I didn’t get to talk much to him about it either!);
- Me; and
- A woman who also has celiac, and brought a caring family member with her.
In contrast to the meeting I went to in NYC, this was small and intimate, and kind of nice. Though I’m awful with names, I did remember enough two days later to write the bullet-list you see above.
I enjoyed sharing stories and tips and offering suggestions. However, I’m concerned about how I may have been perceived. I sat there relaxed and comfortable, my left arm draped around the empty chair-back next to me. While others may have sought (and hopefully found) enlightenment or inspiration, I didn’t. Perhaps I looked a bit cocky — I sure hope not.
The most valuable piece of information I came out with was that Marshall’s sells this thing that you can clip somewhere (like a meter case) which beeps when you press a keychain remote (thank you, two brothers). By the way, I need that.
Driving home, I asked myself (as I inattentively drove right past my exit on the Turnpike): Am I that closed-minded to think that there’s nothing left for me to learn? Do I really believe that nobody else can say anything that will make me a better person and a better PWD? Am I that self-centered and stupid?
So I challenged myself to come up with ways that the diabetes community, and particular the online community, HAD made me a better person. It wasn’t hard.
- I attempted (and succeeded) in using my arms for CGM sensor sites thanks to Kim, and in moving it from the side to the back of my arm thanks to Alecia.
- I switched from Silhouette infusion sets to Sure-T’s thanks to Jess, and to use extra adhesive on the Sure-T site thanks to Sara.
- I found that admitting to innermost, personal thoughts doesn’t make me less manly, thanks to Scott, Mike, Stephen, Scott, and others.
- I began to use the SuperBolus, thanks to a whole bunch of people who first introduced the idea to me on TuDiabetes as well as the book Pumping Insulin, which I’d never read otherwise.
- I understood the mechanics of a CGM, how to use it, and how to interpret its results thanks to a series of blog posts by Wil, as well as his book.
- I developed the confidence to write, personally and openly, to the world.
- I overcame my camera-shyness when, in an attempt to help others, I discovered that I Can Do This.
- I found out how an NHL player wears his insulin pump during hockey games and how I can do the same, thanks to TuDiabetes.
- I developed a tremendous confidence in displaying my diabetes to others, in behavior and preferences as well as in visible paraphernalia, thanks to pretty much everyone — but a special thanks to Alecia and Karen in the “visible paraphernalia” department.
- I developed a newfound respect for what my parents went through (and what I must have put them through!) thanks to Scott, Christina, Meri, Wendy, Penny, Tom, and Tim.
- I learned to deal with my fears of passing my “gift” to my children, thanks to Kerri and Shannon.
- I found the desire to take a chance and pursue my dreams thanks to Allison. (I’m still working on putting that one into effect!)
I can go on…
The point is this. Help comes when you least expect it. Maybe even when you’re least looking for it. And if you’re open to accepting it, it can make you a better person.
Thank you. Thank you for helping me.