You might have heard about a new campaign in the Diabetes Online Community known as WalkWithD.
This Isn’t one of the Numerous initiatives popping around commemorate National Diabetes Awareness Month in November or supporting the Large forthcoming World Diabetes Day frenzy. Nope, this one is an ongoing effort to quash diabetes stigma which so many of us face on a regular basis, throughout the year.
It began with a meetup of diabetes advocates, whose heads got churning about diabetes blot and the idea: Imagine if we could address that ever-present stigma, without actually ever saying the word “stigma”?
What came from that discussion: an online story-sharing effort found under the hashtag #WalkWithD. The aim is to help others view that our side of real life with D, and as a result, people can find some insight which helps dispel some of the stigma and negative attitudes which exist about diabetes.
Like a Rose, this brand new #WalkwithD initiative is also hosted by the Partnering for Diabetes Change (P4DC) coalition, based in ancient 2013 and endorsed by JnJ with the objective of creating collaborative, community-building campaigns centered on diabetes.
The core idea here: You don’t “get” somebody else’s adventures until you’ve “walked a mile in their shoes.”
We believed so. Actually, it digs right into the center value of online patient communities. Remember, the whole online universe of diabetes-related blogs, tweets, movies, and status upgrades was born of that same purpose — to share our stories and join with other people, so as to show that the “real side” of diabetes. And maybe, just maybe, we’d dissipate some of the existing myths and misconceptions in the process…
Yes, as the #WalkWithD articles will inform you: This is no more a world where some disconnected editors use clip-art and stock photos to illustrate life with diabetes. It is about us talking turkey about how all this works in real life.
The WalkWithD webpage is set up on the P4DC site, which utilizes Tagboard, a hashtag curation instrument, to populate all the articles referencing the campaign hashtag from several social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instragram. Getting involved is as straightforward as that: simply tweet, update a Facebook status, share a photo, or write a blog article such as the hashtag #WalkWithD to make sure it is counted and recognized. Your articles then mechanically get scooped up by Tagboard and appear on the campaign site in collage form.
The organizers say that there isn’t yet a very clear plan how all the articles and shared stories will eventually be used or presented; so far it’s been about spreading the word simply to encourage people to take part.
In the first month or so, there’s been a good answer in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). As of late this week, here’s what the stats show:
And here’s a snapshot of what some in the DOC have been sharing beneath the #WalkWithD hashtag on Twitter:
— Julie (@julie_unruly) October 20, 2014
— Hannah Scruggs (@imperfekshun) October 13, 2014
— Stacey Simms (@staceysimms) October 14, 2014
— Jere (@integraljere) October 17, 2014
— Rachel Kerstetter (@ProbablyRachel) October 15, 2014
Without a doubt, there’s a Great Deal of D-stigma on the Planet. It is a matter that’s beginning to acquire more attention, and we are happy that the issue is coming to light. That is why we’re totally on board (pun!) With this WalkWithD initiative and look forward to discussing our own stories to help have a punch at present stigmas.
For me, two situations come to mind that seem apropos to share:
Stigma 1. Diabetics Can Not Do Normal Stuff – My wife Suzi and I were recently on holiday in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but naturally there’s no holiday from diabetes… On a rainy day, we were seeing a shipwreck museum that’s lodged in an actual early 20th Century ship, now permanently stationed at the Soo Locks. We were very intrigued and I was tuned into the museum displays with laser-sharp attention when unexpectedly, the Dexcom began frantically vibrating on my waist.
It was like a mermaid, sneaking my attention and luring me toward my demise. Low blood sugar! In the 50s with arrows down — thanks to all the holiday walking. Adhering to my back pack, the realization hit that we were not carrying anything at all to treat this Low. At that stage, I started feeling the signs and may sense my vision blurring. I needed candy or some juice immediately! Of course, this can be when Suzi chose to ask me when I needed help or wanted to depart, and I immediately and stubbornly shot back “No, I’m fine!” As we tend to when irritable and low.
After a few moments I had been dropping even lower, so we made the decision to depart the museum for a bit and visit the car where I could drink a juicebox and recuperate. As we did so, my head was screaming, “See, you are only reinforcing the stereotype that people with diabetes are not able to do things like ordinary people can!” i.e.. You Can Not Do so, because you are restricted by D. I felt so crappy at that moment, we nearly didn’t go back inside. But we loved the museum, and did. After mulling this over, I managed to clear my mind and come to the conclusion: Hey, I’m just like everyone else that forgets something and needs to change up their regular. But instead of misplacing my car keys or work papers or forgetting a deadline, it was a juicebox which I had forgotten. It occurs…
Ironically, this was me fighting my own sense of strengthening a blot. But I think that’s an important thing: We ourselves need to push these negative notions aside.
Stigma 2. No Way You Can Eat This – A friend recently made a remark that really annoyed me. We were out to dinner and when a particularly large dessert was served, he made a remark that I “could not eat that chocolate sundae without going into convulsions.” Yes it was a joke. That line is something we hear often in the general public, from people who don’t know the nuances of type 1. He was more likely thinking about a hypo than a high blood sugar with this “convulsion” remark, which can be generally uninformed – ugh!
But what really bothers me is that the joke itself, how often people tend to suggest that “I can’t eat that because I’m diabetic, and when I do the outcome is going to be some dramatic health issue.” Most often I’ve attempted to ignore such remarks, and/or laugh off them, while once in a while I will really take the effort to disperse a little D-education about “as long as I take insulin” or even “No, that does not occur.” Perhaps it’s time for me to begin raising the bar on my responses, and also to make it clear that I’m bothered by this kind of remark.
To me, that’s what this whole WalkWithD campaign is all about — being honest and open about the numerous such situations we experience, so hopefully others may learning something.
We online activists are asking a great deal of people these days, with all kinds of advocacy and awareness efforts that seem to be cropping up every day: Please talk about this and email that…
But we believe that is different, because it is an ongoing initiative which requires nothing but some good ‘ol simple honesty, and hopefully could spark meaningful conversation about what it means to deal with diabetes in real-life situations, all of the time and everywhere we eat, sleep, live, work and socialize.
Will you join the D-Community in sharing your #WalkWithD? Click the link to understand how to put in your two cents.
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