Posted on July 19th, 2012 by Admin
Editor's Note: Shannon M. is a patient/caregiver who submitted the following essay as part of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Patient, Caregiver Scholarship Contest. To vote, simply use the Facebook "Like" or Twitter "Tweet" buttons at the bottom of each post to share or leave a positive comment. The top vote-getters will be finalists.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on October 17, 1992, just one month shy of my 18th birthday. Earlier this year, I was referred to several blogs written by other PWD’s (Person with Diabetes) and I became fascinated. I thought, “Wow, there are so many other people out there just like me.” I have not known many PWD’s in my lifetime. So to be suddenly exposed to this new world … was for a lack of better word, life changing.
I started writing my own blog on March 1, 2012, and was shocked at the amount of feedback I received and how quickly I was making new friends who knew exactly what I was talking about. I also learned that of the “DOC” (Diabetes Online Community) which involves aspects of Social Media such as Twitter and weekly chats organized by DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy). Again, this was life changing. And it happened so quickly. I felt like even if I could reach one person who may feel alone, like I always had, then it was worth it.
My last three month appointment with my Endocrinologist (prior to finding the DOC) had been less than stellar. As is the case with most diabetics, I was not happy with my numbers. After finding the DOC, however, I felt accountable to others besides myself. And you know what? It made a difference. My A1C dropped a full point. I was feeling better. I had a place to go to ask questions, to read others’ questions and more than anything, to be reassured that I was not the only person living with this chronic disease.
I realized several things about myself. Most importantly, that I was not in as good of control as I should have been. I now looked at it from a different perspective. I wanted to be in the driver’s seat, not just riding shotgun and living status quo. I realized that being diagnosed at age seventeen, I was too old for my parents to manage my disease for me. Yet not quite mature enough to know how to handle it myself. It was as if I was in limbo. And I never even realized it. Until finding the DOC.
Thanks to Social Media, I am learning new things every single day. And after almost twenty full years as a diabetic, I feel like I was diagnosed just this year. I have friends who have had children diagnosed, and they turn to me for advice. I know that they assume that since I've had this thing for almost twenty years, that I must be an expert, right? Wrong. None of us are experts. But what we are is human. And we are all trying to figure it out one day at a time. Diabetes keeps me on my toes. But thanks to the DOC, I now have friends that will keep me from tripping over my own toes anymore.
My passion is to advocate to others and raise awareness about Diabetes. I would love the opportunity to attend this Summit so I could absorb even more information to share with others in the “real world”. It is very different to hear a doctor tell you what is “normal” vs someone that lives with it every day. And Social Media allows for just that.
Thank you for allowing me to submit my essay for this contest. It is an honor, and a privilege, to even be considered. I thank you in advance for the opportunity you are giving to these individuals.
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