If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How & When to Advocate?

In case you hadn't noticed, it is Diabetes Awareness month. For many, it is a time to bring more awareness to the disease and advocate for themselves or others. There are many ways to do this, and if you follow me or this page on any social media you will have already seen it. One of my favorite social initiatives this month is by Project Blue November. Their daily "Blue Facts" are a nice, to the point way to share one diabetic fact a day.

At the beginning of the month, I read about an app that puts the blue diabetes circle on a picture. I liked this idea and thought I would use it on an image of my son and upload that as my profile picture for the month.

I chose an image that was a silhouette of him flying a paper airplane. I love that image. It captures everything a boy at that age should be - carefree.

After I watermarked this image with the diabetes blue circle, I felt uncomfortable. The feel of the image had completely changed. By no means are we in denial about anything diabetes related. There is no shame in anything diabetes, or in him as a diabetic. However, at that moment, my son was labeled. I had just labeled him.

The blue circle that is supposed to represent the unity of the global diabetes community response to the disease now symbolized everything that was stolen from him as a result of diabetes - a true carefree childhood. I held off on asking my son if I could use the picture.

I also considered another initiative, "T1D Looks Like Me".  It has caught on and many parents are posting blue images of their children with that phrase on it. There are kids of all ages overcoming diabetes and doing great things. There is even a Type 1 age 70 that participated - he is an inspiration to many. They are all inspirational, but yet because of my feelings about the blue circle picture, I had not yet posted the same.

Although I felt uncomfortable with our image, I thought it could be nice to show my son that there are other children his age living with Type 1. There are three other diabetic children in his school, but seeing so many blue pictures exemplifies the magnitude of how many people are living with this. His first reaction when he saw all the blue hued pictures was, "Where's mine?" I explained to him that I was not sure if he wanted me to post a blue image of him. I wanted to ask him first.

The next day at dinner, we were discussing a boy at school that is overly curious about his pump. My son is very well versed in presenting diabetes, but recently if someone seems overly interested in it, or he is not sure of their motivation, he tells them it is "personal and private". And it is. What goes on with a person's body and health information is exactly that - personal and private. Also, after the playground incident I recently wrote about where he was kicked in the stomach in his insertion site, he is much more selective in how he shares this.

It is his body, his disease. Some people share, others do not. I respect both decisions. I advocate and work with various diabetic groups in our local community, but I do not insist that he do the same. I am sometimes asked by organizers why my son did not join me for certain presentations. If he wants to he can, but I do not feel it is my place to suggest he do this or use him as the face of what I do. As he grows up he will learn more about what is out there, and express or share his diabetes in his own way.

Please note, this post is intended to judgment on anyone that does participate in initiatives that I do not. That is not the intention at all. It is more of a please excuse me if we do not participate, and this is why.

I think it is great to advocate, and if you choose to do so it is most important that it is done in a way that works best for you and your family. In the case of the blue pictures of all the T1s and other images, I thank you for helping my son understand that there are many others out there like him.

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