I'm grateful to my diabetes!

Diabetes is a burden, a nuisance and feckin' depressing. But it shouldn't be all of those things all of the time.

You probably think I'm "cracked" when I say that I'm grateful to my diabetes. Let me explain;

There are a number of little things that I'm grateful to my diabetes for and the coolest one is that when I was pregnant with my babies I got loads of ultrasound photos. Seeing your baby on the ultrasound monitor is so "awesome" and pregnant women without diabetes in Ireland are lucky if they see the ultrasound twice in the whole nine months. I got to do it at least 8 times with both of mine.

Another little thing I'm grateful to my diabetes for is my weight - it hardly ever changes because I have to keep track of my carbs. Most of the time my weight never increases. Unfortunately, I would like it to go down by about a stone but I'm truly grateful it's not going up.

A big reason I'm grateful to diabetes is how it has enabled me to broaden my horizons as a person and made me stand up for myself in order to take better care of me. How this came about is a bit of a story - please bear with me.

Before 2007, I was the type of person who sat at the back of a room and listened. I would never in a million years speak up in a crowd. And I had never organised an event or even people.

In the 9 years after my diagnosis, I did what I was suppose to do to take care of my diabetes. I didn't ask questions about why I was doing all of these everyday tasks and how they were making my life better.

This desperation came to a head in 2007. I started to struggle with coping with my diabetes and I felt that I wasn't getting the kind of health care I had become used to living in America. I had just moved home and I wasn't going to be force to pack my bags again just because the healthcare service was letting me down.

I refused to believe that just because things are the way they are; doesn't mean they can't change.

I needed to reach out to someone but I didn't know who. I saw a piece in the local newspaper about a diabetes information meeting that I had been too nervous to attend. I took a deep breath and phoned the number; not knowing who was going to answer. I needn't have worried because I found a friend at the other end. I didn't know the woman who answered but she had type 1 diabetes, was in the same age decade as me and echoed every feeling I had about living with diabetes.

I came to the realisation that the way forward for me was to connect with more just like me and that the way I could do that was to set up a support group. This is how I became an active member of Diabetes Ireland.

The local branch was relatively new at the time and was bursting with ideas on how to provide support and information to all people with diabetes. I took it upon myself to make sure that those ideas didn't fall into a big black hole. I reminded the others of what they had volunteered to do and I gradually began to step more and more out of my comfort zone to expand it.

In 2007, fear of rejection meant I didn't like calling strangers on the telephone, especially health care professionals, who wouldn't be expecting my call, about what we're were trying to do but I did it.

Today, I'm a confident person who is not afraid to ask questions no matter who they are directed too. I give presentations to groups of people and I'm not as bad at them as I was in the beginning. Today, it's not unusual for health care professionals to call me asking for information on diabetes events and resources.

The support groups have grown and grown and the feedback we get is that everyone who attends gets something out of it. I'm so proud that they have been sucessful.

The achievement I'm most proud of is the editing of a Type 1 Diabetes guide for adults which was published in March 2012. My previous diabetes voluntary endevours meant that I had become comfortable contacting health care professional to review and ammend this book to ensure the information was relevant to irish people with diabetes. However, when it came to finding a big chunk of "change" to pay for it's printing - that was a new area for me. I found myself talking to regional managing directors of multimillion dollar companies, telling them why this was a excellent investment opportunity!!!

The skills I've developed and the (mostly) confident person I have evolved into today has made be deeply grateful to my diabetes and my one-time desperation of it. And I've found the health care in Ireland that I had become used to when living in America:-)

I wish more people could benefit in the ways that I have. 

P.S. I couldn't have done any of the above if my husband didn't tell that I'd be well able to.