“Connecting, Sharing, Learning. . .” is the tagline for Discuss Diabetes, and it’s also the reason many people initially engage in the diabetes online community (DOC). Bob Pedersen, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008, is an example of someone who found the DOC soon after his diagnosis, started connecting and learning from members right away, and is now sharing his story with others.
In 2008, Bob started experiencing frequent urination and thirst, so he made a doctor’s appointment to have a physical exam. Shortly after his visit, he received a letter in the mail that said he had type 2 diabetes and needed to call the office to set-up a follow-up appointment.
“I spent most of that first weekend feeling intensely guilty and not understanding a lot of things,” Bob said. “I felt like I had several years of warning because my dad has type 2 diabetes, but I still didn’t try to prevent it.”
As a degreed librarian, Bob put his research skills to use right away. “Right after I received the letter, I found Diabetes Daily, some podcasts and a few other online diabetes resources,” he said.
A few weeks later Bob went to his follow-up appointment hoping for more information about his diagnosis. “My doctor basically handed me a sheet of prescriptions and told me to exercise,” he said. “I asked if there were educational courses available and she told me we would talk about it at my next appointment. The next appointment came and I was told the classes were for people on other types of medications than I was on and was declined a referral.”
Discouraged by the lack of information available to him through his health care provider, Bob continued to turn to the DOC and started his first blog on Diabetes Daily. Soon after, he joined Twitter and later that year he attended a World Diabetes Day gathering where he connected with other bloggers living with diabetes.
“I met a lot of great people including Cherise Shockley, the founder of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy, and Scott Strange, who is a blogger and TuDiabetes moderator,” Bob said. “After meeting these people in person I got more involved and felt more of a sense of community.”
Eventually, Bob started a personal blog called T Minus Two where he blogs about his life and diabetes. “I knew I wasn’t going to blog every day, so Cherise helped me come up with my tagline ‘part-time blogger, full-time diabetic,’” he said. “When I started my blog I think there were only two other type 2 bloggers who wrote about their experiences and said, ‘this is what it’s like for me,’ so I think that’s why she encouraged me to start it.”
Bob recently shared a photo of his medical ID “dog tag” necklace on T Minus Two and it caught my eye, so I asked him to share more about it.
“I got my necklace soon after I was diagnosed because I was trying to show some degree of responsibility,” Bob said. “I would not like to have a hypoglycemic episode and have a police officer think I’m on drugs, so when I put it on it’s like I’m putting on my responsibility for my care.”
Additionally, Bob says the necklace helps him fight denial. “I take medication and maintain a controlled enough diet, so it would be pretty easy for me to pretend I can just keep taking medication and go on with life,” he said. “That would be a bad idea in the long run.”
Medical ID jewelry is certainly a hot topic in the diabetes community, and I’ll be sharing other community members’ thoughts on the topic soon. Thanks to Bob for sharing his story and giving us more insight into the life of someone with type 2 diabetes. I think he was very lucky to find the DOC so quickly after his diagnosis and hope we see this trend much more often in the near future.
All the best,
Disclosure: Bob Pedersen 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.