Warning – this post is 1270+ words. normally I would toss in some random cat pics but honestly I don’t want to take away from the message. I thought about changing the font randomly but that just seemed silly. Its wordy but in my very humble opinion worth it.
Who is an advocate?
: a person who argues for or supports a cause or policy
: a person who works for a cause or group
: a person who argues for the cause of another person
By definition I am an advocate.
I work to promote education about diabetes. Not just type 1 diabetes which is what all three of my kids have but also Type 2 diabetes and the grey area in between. The media does a fantastic job of confusing the public about diabetes. The magazine covers and online advertisements that suggest people can reverse their diabetes with okra infused water are all too common and mislead the public. Media also does a fantastic job of creating and emphasizing incorrect stereotypes – “people with diabetes are overweight and diabetes is caused by being overweight.”
The advertisements are nearly always wrong and damage our efforts to educate others about diabetes. This is what the world should be learning: It can’t be reversed. There is no cure. No one chose to get diabetes. Insulin is not a last resort. All kinds of diabetes are bad. People with diabetes can do everything anyone else can do. There is no one body type or size that can define what diabetes looks like.
I argue for a cause on behalf of my kids and my friends. I actually don’t argue often. I talk. I share stories. I listen. Arguing doesn’t always mean raising our voices above our inside voices – it simply can be using our voices. I don’t argue with the store clerk that questions my purchases of both ice-cream and glucose tabs. “You have diabetes? Should you be getting ice-cream?” <<< Yes that happened. No I didn’t shin-kick her. I simply said “my kids all have type 1 diabetes. They can eat ice-cream the same as anyone else, they inject insulin to make up for their lack of insulin producing cells. As far as the glucose tabs – they are easier to carry in their pockets to treat low blood sugars than ice-cream is.” The clerk just nodded and continued to ring up my other items which included (among other non-carb foods), rice, Cheerios, whole wheat bread, a bag of russets, apples, and bananas. Note she did not comment on all the other carbohydrates I was purchasing – just the ice-cream. Why? because of the misconception that diabetes is caused by and worsened by SUGAR. So much misinformation. I don’t get angry. I was one of those people prior to Feb 7th of 2007. Still pretty ballsie of her to question my ice-cream purchase. Even more so since she must have SOME idea about diabetes since she knew what glucose tabs are.
I work for a cause. Our family walks each year with the JDRF to raise funds for research. I use the word work because it is part of the definition but it never feels like work. Yes, long before the walk I am begging friends and family for donations – that is work and asking for money always makes me uncomfortable – still I ask and people give. I also create videos to share. Pictures of my kids smiling, sleeping, grouchy, flushed, pale, happy, sad, excited faces – all the faces of diabetes. Thats not really work because it means I get to sift through my thousands of photos and remember the moments behind them. Work has such a negative connotation – when many think of work they think of Mondays that come too soon and Fridays that take forever to arrive. Raising awareness and funds for research is work but it isn’t the 9-5 mind numbing cubical kind of work.
I also act as a mentor with the JDRF. I call and email new families. Families that just weeks earlier dropped kids at play dates, worried only about an incomplete homework assignment, argued about untidy rooms and going to bed. My job is to listen to their concerns, offer support, provide helpful numbers and share my experiences while I ensure them that diabetes will blend into the play dates, the untidy rooms, the bedtime delay tactics. My job is to assure them that it won’t actually get easier but they (and their child) will get better. Better at not letting diabetes rob them of their moments. (BTW – I would like it noted that I do believe I used ‘ensure’ and ‘assure’ properly – I think)
They’re are other JDRF things I do and my kids do. They’re are Promise To Remember meetings we have attended encouraging our government representatives to vote to support diabetes research (or thank them for their support). They’re are medical studies the kids participate in to help advance diabetes tools and technology. They’re are fund-raising campaigns I donate to and/or share (like Spare A Rose – click that link and donate please) that help others get the medical care and tools they need to live. I never see any of it as ‘work’ – its just what needs to be done.
I write. I share stories. I have carved out a tiny corner of the blogosphere where I share my life and parts of my kids lives. It isn’t a big corner but it’s mine and I like it. I like it when others visit and share a thought, offer a hug, or tell me that something in my corner helped them in some small way. There are bigger corners and maybe I will move up to a bigger corner one day but Im ok here too. It’s a place I can speak freely and share safely. Sometimes I do dig out my soapbox and try to be louder and sometimes more people hear. It’s all part of advocacy – sharing, educating, supporting, engaging, listening, learning, loving, hoping.
So if you send an occasional tweet, post a thought about diabetes on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Tumbler or Google – or…. – then you, my friend, are advocating (well not if you’re the guy that shared the okra infused water cure – if you are that guy, then you are an asshat).
But you – the mom who calls a non-D friend about a playdate with your child and explains that your child is just like her child but will need to check her blood sugar – then you are an advocate.
And you – the dad who teaches your child’s teachers about blood sugars, high, lows and glucagon – you are an advocate.
And you – the grandma who takes the time to learn how to check a grandchild’s blood sugar and what carbohydrates are so your own child can get away with her spouse for a much deserved weekend away – you are an advocate.
And you – the person sipping warmed over coffee while reading this post and looking for the “share” button – you are an advocate. (too much? too beggy? sorry – Ill stay in my corner)
The point is – advocacy doesn’t always mean you wrote a best selling book, have a blog or website that reaches thousands, or accept speaking engagements at large conventions – it means you share tidbits/snippets of your life and/or the lives of your CWD with those not in the diabetes world. (don’t get me wrong those folks with the really huge corners that do all the huge things – I admire and thank you for your footsteps)
This is my February DSMA Blog Carnival Post. Write yours and share it at DSMA
Please check out Spare A Rose, Save A Child!
Now watch my video. Trust me it wasn’t work. The dishes I avoided – that is work.
This was fun. – <<<< video link
(I have no idea how to make a video just show up. Click the link – click it – you know you want to.)
“This post is my February entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetescaf.org/2014/02/february-dsma-blog-carnival-3/”