One of the hallmarks of the diabetes online community (DOC) is how organically things grow from within. Ideas like DSMA, Blue Fridays, and D Blog Week have morphed into some of the most popular and well-received events the DOC participates in each year and D-Blog Day is no exception!
D-Blog Day happens every year on November 9th, encouraging all diabetes bloggers to unite in support of and blog about a specific diabetes-related topic selected by Gina Capone. Last year’s topic, the “6 things you want people to know” was a personal eye-opener for me as I learned more about the personal struggles and the importance of “diabetes not defining you as a person.”
Those articles were not only inspirational, but integral to my learning about the DOC, which is why I am so excited for D-Blog Day 2011! Who better to talk to us about D-Blog Day than the founder herself? In this post, Gina discusses this year’s unique theme along with how she became such a fundamental part of the DOC. I think you’ll really love her story:
Q. How old were you when you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was diagnosed at the age of 25 in November of 2000, two days after Thanksgiving. It felt like I had just gotten punched in the stomach really hard. The life I was living was changed in an instant, and because I was diagnosed as an adult it took me a really long time to get out of the denial process. Even now, 11 years later I still feel like I’m in denial. Sometimes you just want your life to go back to the way it used to be, even though you know it can’t.
Q. How did you find the DOC?
I found the online community back in 2000 after my diagnosis, through the Joslin Diabetes Message Boards. After that, I kept searching the Web for diabetes support and came across another board that just started up. I became really active on it because it was the first time I didn’t feel alone and realized there were people out there just like me. In fact, I was actually the second member on that community message board, which helped me begin my love affair of community support and moderating. In February of 2000, I decided to start the diabetestalkfest.com, an online chat room dedicated to young adults. I really wanted to help connect people who were diagnosed with type 1 in their 20s. That was when I first met a couple of important people from the DOC who are still my pals today, Scott Strumello and Allison Blass. I think Allison was the first person I knew who was blogging, and I’m pretty sure that’s how I found the DOC. It was so long ago!
Q. How did you get involved with the DOC?
To be honest I am not completely sure how I got really involved with the DOC blogging community. I think it was just a case of finding other people like me who were talking about their lives with diabetes in another format other than a forum setting. I lurked for a while and that inspired me to start writing as well. I was never really a strong writer and I felt a little intimated at first, but then I said the heck with it. I just started pouring my heart out into my writing and it became easier each time.
Q. When did you start D-Blog Day?
D-Blog Day was started on Nov. 9, 2005, during diabetes awareness month to help unite diabetes bloggers and create awareness about diabetes. After the first D-Blog Day in 2005 people started emailing me the next year asking if I was going to do it again. So I decided to keep it going, and it’s become a tradition ever since. Even if a blogger doesn’t write for the entire year, they come out on D-blog Day. It’s really special and unites us as a community.
Q. Have you seen an increase in participation each year?
It’s been a while since 2005 but I believe the first year we had maybe 50 bloggers or less. Last year, we had over 200 bloggers combined with official and unofficial sign-ups, even the CEO and leaders from JDRF participated! How cool is that?
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about how you come up with the topics and what this year’s topic is?
I come up with topics based on what the community has been talking about throughout the year. Or I’ll look to do something that piques the interest of everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. Having anyone that has been affected by diabetes participate is really important to me and I don’t want to exclude anyone. There are people that blog about diabetes who don’t have it and that community consists of parents, caregivers, friends and spouses.
This year’s topic is going to be a scrapbooking project. I am a graphic designer and always love to see how people view art and work it into their own way of healing. Details on the specifics can be found on my blog.
Q. If someone doesn’t have a blog, but still wants to participate, is there a way for them to get involved?
If they would like to participate they can leave a comment on a blog or just lurk. They can help promote by e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. They can also post to a social network thread. They can really participate any way they want to and help raise awareness about diabetes and help our diabetes online community grow.
I know I learned a tremendous amount from D-Blog Day last year and I’m so excited to see everyone’s crafty scrapbook pages this year. For anyone curious about the diabetes online community, I strongly suggest just watching and reading what comes out of D-Blog Day this year.
I’ve already started working on my own scrapbook page and I’m eager to see what you’re working on. A big thanks to Gina for the insight on D-Blog Day! It’s always a pleasure to learn the story behind some of the DOC’s biggest events.
All the best,
Disclosure: Gina Capone 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.