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Reaching Out: Online Diabetes Support

Finding T1 and T2 diabetes support online

Imagine you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes and you are faced with a whole slew of things you need to begin doing in order to manage this condition.  Let’s say that you (like me) are living with type 2 diabetes and need to make some adjustments to your diet. Perhaps you’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for years, but are just beginning to use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and are unsure of the best place to put the sensor. So many things to learn and know!

Diabetes may be unusual in that it requires those living with it to monitor and adjust their care regimen on a daily basis. Our doctors may recommend a course of action, a dietitian or certified diabetes educator (CDE*) can assist us in figuring out what we should be eating, but no one on our care team is there holding our hands when we’re hungry and our blood glucose is high, or it’s three in the morning and we’re experiencing a low blood sugar. We are expected to “know it all” and continually adjust what we’re doing. It can be exhausting!

“I know what you mean!”

“This is what I do in that situation; maybe it would help you, too.”

“Me too.”

“I’m sorry.”

These can be such comforting words to hear when you’re dealing with something stressful, and diabetes can be very stressful. (And in turn, stress can affect diabetes, as well.) Not all of us are surrounded by people who are living with diabetes and/or understand what it is like to live with diabetes. But we still need someone to lend a shoulder or give everyday advice. That’s where the Internet may offer options to help make connections.

Many people use social media sites as a way to meet others with diabetes, while others use more conventional means like diabetes-related websites. Regardless of the level of your expertise when surfing the web, there are places you can go to connect with others.  These are a few suggestions I’ve found helpful:

Diabetes Websites
Websites that are focused on diabetes offer a variety of ways to better educate yourself on diabetes and potentially connect with others like you. Some offer links to articles that inform, and also have forums you can join to enter into conversations with others who are dealing with diabetes, too. Examples of those types of websites include: tudiabetes.org, Diabetes Daily, dLife®, and the American Diabetes Association’s community section.

With some exploration, you may find other sites that provide support via education, providing content that may answer some of the questions you are asking. These websites often serve up content written by doctors, CDEs, dieticians, or other medical professionals.  Many pharmaceutical companies also offer websites aimed at providing education. A few of these educational websites include: Diabetic Connect, Diabetic Living®, and TCOYD® (Taking Control of Your Diabetes). The list goes on and on, and there’s something for (almost) everyone.

Blogs
Another way to connect is through blogs that focus on diabetes; there are so many amazing people out there who write about their experiences with diabetes.  I’ve often found that just reading about something that someone else is going through can provide me with support. There are blogs written by people living with type 1, type 2, LADA, and those who care for and support others living with diabetes. One of the first bloggers on the scene was Kerri Sparling at Six Until Me. Her blog has a blogroll with links to other diabetes blogs, which can be a great place to start exploring. While it is in no way a comprehensive list of all the great dblogs out there, I’ve found it a wonderful resource.

Social Media
For the more adventurous or tech-savvy web surfers, there are social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. You might be amazed at how many people with diabetes are connecting through these channels! If you already have a Facebook account, try searching “diabetes” to identify diabetes Facebook pages or groups. Following hashtags on Twitter is a good way to connect with other people living with diabetes. The hashtag #DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) is a very popular way to connect with others on Twitter. Every Wednesday evening at nine p.m. (EST), there is a #DSMA Twitter Chat. It’s a fast-paced whirlwind of tweets, but the camaraderie and support I find there is invaluable.

No matter what type of diabetes you live with, how long you’ve been living with it, or your level of digital expertise, I believe the Internet is a place where you may find the support you need…and only a click away.

Kate Cornell was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June of 2005. She may have diabetes but it doesn’t have her. She blogs about her life with diabetes at Kate’s Sweet Success. Cornell is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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