Another anniversary – by Helen May
I remember my birthday and I remember the day I was diagnosed with diabetes. I am not married but I remember the day when my partner and I first met. Now I have another anniversary to remember – 18th October 2010. This is the date my first post was published on the Diabetes UK blog.
As the first year anniversary approached, I have been looking back.
I first had idea of writing about my experience with diabetes about two years ago. Since I was diagnosed, I have been a regular reader of articles on diabetes. As I have mentioned on previous posts, this is anything from research articles to Diabetes UK’s Balance. I enjoy reading in inspirational stories about celebrities and people with great skills who continue their lives with diabetes. When reading the articles about people with diabetes and other complications, I remember how lucky I am and I am reminded to manage my blood sugars to reduce the chances of contracting any complications.
The research articles give me hope I will not be a pin-cushion for the rest of my life. Yes, there is value in all of these articles. But two years ago, I started thinking there was something missing: articles from someone with diabetes who carries on living their life doing some fun activities and some day-to-day activities. Most importantly, I wanted to see articles and stories spreading the message from my diabetes nurse “diabetes should not stop you doing anything”.
I spent a year coming up with topics to write about. But before I went to print, I had to think about how I could spread the word. Could I write a book? Could I convince Diabetes UK to allow me to write a column for Balance? A blog would give me the flexibility to write about what I wanted when I wanted but would anyone read it? Then I saw Diabetes UK had started their blog. They agreed to let me contribute and I joined their ready-made audience.
The next step was for me to make sense out of the list of topics I’d come up with over the previous year. I realised I had four things I wanted to write about:
1. Day-to-day living with diabetes. This covers the things everyone takes for granted, like celebrating Christmas, which gives people with diabetes some challenges but that doesn’t mean we can’t get on with them.
2. Activities I have partaken in since my diagnosis. In addition to regular sports, I also like to try out new things like sky diving. Although these bring with them some more challenges, diabetes does not stop me.
3. My non-typical holidays. Again, I’ve wanted to push home the message that diabetes should not stop you doing anything including visiting gorillas in the wild.
4. Then there are other things I wanted to get off my chest. These are my responses to things I’ve read or heard.
I can’t stop myself logically organising everything – holiday planning, professional workshops, diabetes blogs… So I have a spreadsheet I call my Blog Log with all my ideas past and present. I keep track of dependencies – no point writing about the cycling on the rat race (a topic to look forward to…) before I’ve written anything about managing diabetes whilst cycling. I make sure I keep a balance between my four different areas. And I match articles with important dates like the anniversary of my first post.
So that’s how I do it but, a year on, what do I think? I hope I still have some readers – I enjoy receiving comments as it shows there’s someone out there. I was amazed by the number of people who shared my desire for a diabetes friendly dress.
One of my highlights was seeing my Christmas post mentioned in the Guardian Social pages. And I was very happy when Diabetes UK responded to a reader who was concerned that “diabetes was controlling their life” by mentioning my posts and how “nothing gets in her way of climbing mountains, jumping out of plane or sailing in rough seas!” – I hope I’m getting the message through that “diabetes should not stop you doing anything”.
But the benefit I did not expect was feeling part of this diabetes community. I love reading how the other Helen continues her mission to debunk all the myths and misunderstandings about diabetes. I thank Andy for keeping us on our toes about the proposed NHS changes. Olly amuses me with his stories about managing his boys in such a caring environment. And I welcome Daisy and her resurrected pancreas.
My blog log still has new ideas to write about so I intend to stay as part our blogging community for the next year. I hope I still have some readers out there who are not bored with the message … “diabetes should not stop you doing anything”.