Last month I sent Regina Holliday a jacket and a little write up summarizing my diabetes advocacy efforts thus far. Today Regina is sending my jacket back with this mural painted on the back. It’s beautiful. I might have cried a bit when I first saw it. I can’t wait to wear this during Medicine X.
Seriously. It’s incredible.
Here’s the text I sent her – this story probably won’t be new to any of you, but for context, I figure it’s worth sharing.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2002 during my freshman year at Virginia Tech. My personal blog, A Consequence of Hypoglycemia (http://tobesugarfree.com) started in 2009 as a way to share, and mostly vent my frustrations with, my life with diabetes. Over the years it has expanded into a daily chronicling of whatever is going on in my life. For the most part that has been my life with diabetes, life with my lovely fianceé (who also has type 1 diabetes) and my two cats.
Over the years my creative efforts have expanded in a variety of directions. Most notably, I host and produce a weekly podcast called “Just Talking” (http://justtalkingpodcast.com) that features the stories and experiences of a different guest each week. The goal is a casual yet informative conversation that anyone can approach.
Among my other social media exploits is a Tumblr I created last year called “My Diabetes Secret”. Similar to Post Secret, this blog hosts anonymous submissions from the diabetes community that are more akin to confessions. Some of the submissions are light-hearted, but others touch on the mental and emotional toll that managing diabetes can have on someone. Content on that blog became so intense that I only review submissions during the day, so I won’t go to sleep with the confessions of suicide that occasionally come through. To that end, I also added a mental health resources page for people needing more help than a simple Tumblr.
I’m still trying to find and define my voice as a patient advocate, both through this blog and in person at conferences like Stanford’s Medicine X. I’m not an authority on any one particular matter, but when I have strong feelings about a particular topic or advocacy effort, you’ll certainly know it.
At the end of the day, I believe in storytelling. I believe that the stories we, the diabetes community, share strengthen our community and improve our capacity for greatness by an exponential margin. I believe that every story is worth telling, no matter how ordinary it appears to be on the surface. I believe all of “this” is best served to help remind others that they aren’t alone with their diabetes, their cancer, their rheumatoid arthritis, or whatever else you may be dealing with. I believe that every patient community has something to teach, and something to learn.
Right now I have a lot to learn, and if I’m lucky a few things I can help teach in the process.
It would be an honor to be accepted into the Walking Gallery.