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People today have an incredible array of methods for finding the latest news and information about diabetes: the Internet, social media, and print publications. But perhaps the most powerful is the strong relationships they develop within the tight-knit diabetes community.
In the October/November 2012 issue of Diabetes Health, our interview with Amazing Race winner Dr. Natalie Strand showed the power of personal connection. In "The Amazing Race Winner Connects with the Diabetes Community," Dr. Strand inspired others with her willingness to share her personal story. In the process of becoming an inspiration to others, she in turn was inspired to take better charge of her own diabetes. (You can read the story online at http://diabeteshealth.com/archive/celebrities/dr--nat-strandthe-amazing-race/.)
There's something very remarkable about this phenomenon. Alongside the tools and techniques of diabetes management-the insulin delivery systems, blood glucose monitoring, carb counting and so on-the social side of diabetes management has become a therapy of its own.
"Diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease which requires grit and determination. Social media within the diabetes online community-lovingly called ‘the DOC,' which is also available 24/7/365, have rapidly become an important virtual space for people with diabetes and their caregivers to get and give support," says Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, author, and DOC enthusiast and supporter. "That support can range from answers to practical management challenges to news about on-the-cutting-edge technologies to advocacy for legislation to simply to having a shoulder to cry on or to share a success."
The diabetes community is an elaborate, complex eco-system composed of everyday people, information sharing, helpful tips, tools, resources, and both practical and emotional support. It has blossomed and become increasingly accessible through sponsored diabetes walks, camps, blogs, online forums, Facebook, Twitter, and simple face-to-face connections in friendships and support groups. This new-age support system is right at your fingertips whenever you need information or support.
Realizing the value the diabetes community has on diabetes management, some healthcare industry leaders have made their support of the community part of their general mission. Insulet Corporation, innovators of the tubeless OmniPod insulin pump, got involved late last year with the launch of its Suite D blog late last year (www.suited.myomnipod.com/).
Suite D features guest voices from across the wide diabetes community, from celebrity diabetes advocates like Natalie Strand to everyday people who have or have been impacted by diabetes. They share their personal experiences on everyday topics, allowing others to both relate to and learn from them. Insulet says that creating the blog as another source of education and inspiration within the diabetes community is an extension of its mission to "make diabetes a smaller part of life."
Another key to the strength of the diabetes community is the behind-the-scenes collaboration that goes on among diabetes advocates, industry supporters, and publications to provide the utmost in support to people with diabetes.
The world outside the diabetes community recognizes the power of that collaboration: The same October/November 2012 issue of Diabetes Health that featured Dr. Strand was recently nominated for a Maggie, the annual Western Publications Association award that goes to the best magazines in the West. The nomination affirms the power of publications, print and electronic, to amplify the inspirational voices of advocates like Dr. Strand.
Getting involved in all that the diabetes community has to offer, in whatever small way, is bound to have a positive impact on how you manage your diabetes. At the very least it will give you some extra emotional and informational support . As professional snowboarder and diabetes advocate Sean Busby says, "When you give back to others in this community, you stand to gain and grow on your own journey with diabetes."