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Blue Fridays: Mike Durbin Shares What Blue Means to Him

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

It’s the second Blue Friday of Diabetes Awareness Month! This week we’re highlighting Mike Durbin, blogger at My Diabetic Heart. Diagnosed with congestive heart failure and type 2 diabetes in December 2008, Mike now works to raise awareness about his conditions and help others to find the blessings in diabetes specifically. I’m excited to share his story with you!

Q: When did you first find the diabetes online community and what impact has it had on your life?

A: I was fortunate enough to stumble onto the diabetes online community within the first few days of my diagnosis. My search led me to a few diabetes social networks and blogs, where people living with diabetes were sharing their experiences. Ultimately, seeing how those shared experiences were helping others is what inspired me to start my blog.

Eventually, I discovered that so many of the bloggers who I had been following were also on Twitter, and I began following and interacting with them on there. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many of them in person and form lasting friendships in the past few years. Ultimately, finding the diabetes online community has confirmed that I’m not alone in my struggles and there are people out there who “get it.”

Laura Kolodjeski of Sanoif US and Mike Durbin of My Diabetic Heart
Laura and Mike at a DSMA Meet-up

Q: Why has diabetes advocacy become such an integral part of your life?

A: When I was diagnosed, there wasn’t a website where someone was talking about life with both type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure. Since I started My Diabetic Heart, I’ve received a number of emails expressing the same frustrations and thanking me for sharing my experience as I’m the only one who does. And what started as a means of documenting my experiences and processing what I was dealing with has turned into something that helps others.

I want people to understand that type 2 diabetes isn’t just a disease of the older generation anymore and that complications can occur at any time, and in some cases, may be present at the time of diagnosis. I advocate and share my story for a number of reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that I feel compelled to pay forward the second chance that I’ve been given at life.

Q: What diabetes-related activities are you participating in during Diabetes Awareness Month and on World Diabetes Day?

A: At this point, I’m planning to participate in the Big Blue Test, and I’ll be leading the Diabetes Blessings Week blog carnival during the week of Thanksgiving, November 19-25. It’s a week-long event devoted to looking at the good things, the blessings, which diabetes has brought to our lives.

I started Diabetes Blessings Week when I realized that my diabetes was kind of a blessing in disguise, because if it wasn’t for a diabetes-related infection leading me to the doctor, the problems with my heart might not have been found before it was too late. It had, in a sense, saved my life. That’s something for which I’m truly thankful. I also realized that there were a lot of good things that were happening in my life because of my diagnosis. My health was improving, new opportunities were coming my way and I was meeting a lot of awesome people. Again, things I felt were blessings brought my way because of diabetes.

I also knew that many of my friends in the diabetes online community felt that a lot of good things had come to their lives because of diabetes as well. And with November being Diabetes Awareness Month, and it being the season of Thanksgiving, I felt that would be a great time to host it. The idea was well received, and this will be the third year for Diabetes Blessings Week.

Q: We know blue comes from the International Diabetes Federation’s blue circle which is the universal symbol for diabetes, so what does blue mean to you?

A: Blue is a color of strength and unity for the diabetes community. And when I think of the blue circle, I’m reminded of the blue globe in the DOC logo that I created for Diabetes Art Day last year and of the fact that we really are a global community. We span many nations and continents. We are separated by miles, yet united by a cause. And our strength is evident in the great things we accomplish when we come together to help community members in need.

Blue is a color of happiness, particularly on Friday, when many in the community don their blue outfits and ham it up in front of the camera in support of the Blue Friday initiative. Yet, blue is also a color of great sadness, when the images of blue candles appear each time a person with diabetes loses their life. It is a color that means so many things to so many people.

I so appreciate Mike taking the time to talk with me and share his experiences as an inspiring and informative blogger. I love that he sees his work in the online community as a way to pay it forward to others in need of information and support.

Happy Blue Friday,

Laura K.

Disclosure: Mike Durbin received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

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  1. Scott
    November 15th, 2012, 7:21 PM

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing!