Passionate about diabetes – Helen May

I very consciously avoid being defined by diabetes. There is little in my life that is done because of diabetes apart from what I do to stay alive. As a consequence I don’t spend much time with other people with diabetes. I’m not comfortable with the idea of a support group who I meet up with regularly and have nothing in common with apart from diabetes. I understand that some people benefit from sharing their concerns and frustrations. However, I would rather hide behind my computer keyboard and share on forum but not face to face.

I put my reservations on hold recently when Diabetes UK invited me to join their Big Conversation. Emma wrote about her experience of the Big Conversation when she attended. The format of mine was similar: a morning discussing our current experience and an afternoon sharing our vision for the future.

The attendees were varied: type 1, type 2, parent of type 1, daughter of type 2, men, women, a variety of ages (although I didn’t spot anyone I would estimate to be younger than 30), people with diabetes for 50 years and people with less than two years experience, quiet people, vocal people, people with stories to explain their points and people who through a quick idea into the pot to be discussed.

Typically, I am one of the people who contributes at these events: I am not too shy to have my say. However, I try to be aware of not dominating discussions, not going down long rambling dialogues and spotting when others have switched off. I have a limited concentration so I often want to move on because I have bored myself with the topic.

There are other people who have incredibly passionate views about single topics that they want make sure they get across. At the Big Conversation event, there was one person who was very focused about care for children with diabetes, another wanted to ensure a one-stop shop for all related diabetes care and another had a lot of information to share about making CGMs available to all.

My natural reaction is to back away from these people. They become very doggedly persistently passionate about one topic. Whatever the subject, they come back to their favourite tune. In a work environment, this is rarely a good idea: other people will switch off, you become known as a “one-trick pony” and, once their idea is taken on board (or totally dropped), they have no place in the company.

However, when it comes to  lobbying, things are different. It is people with this passion who make a difference. It is people with this persistence who drive change. It is people like these who I have to thank for my pump. Without people like these we may be peeing on sticks and sterilising syringes.

Therefore, I left the event feeling privileged to have met these people who are passionate about diabetes, joined their conversation and, maybe, contributed a little idea to help them make another change.

More information
Helen attended our Future of Diabetes Big Conversation event in Bristol (pictured above). If you would like to get involved as well and help us shape the Future of Diabetes for better, you can still complete our survey or enquire about any of our upcoming Big Conversation events. All the details are on our website.

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