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living with diabetes

Guest Blogger: Kimberly Goodson

Kimberly is a wife, sister, nanny, health coach, baker, home-maker, and Type 1 diabetic. She and her husband live in Durham, North Carolina, with their dog Bodie. While Matthew is in graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill, she cares for two adorable kids and a dog, runs her small Integrative Health Coaching business – Ginkgo and facilitates a local Type 1 Diabetic MeetUp group.
She loves the mountains, foodie life, and spending time with family and friends. She believes that life is so much better when shared with others, and she is so happy to share some of it with you here!
Read more entries by Kimberly at her blog

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Living with Diabetes

You name it, Diabetes is there.  If you think of an area that it can’t touch, think again. From diet to spirituality, we cannot escape. Diabetes affects every aspect of a person’s life.

Some of us might not notice at first.  Others might deny it.  But this is reality for Type 1 Diabetics and their loved ones.

beast for DMBecause this disease impacts our lives so deeply, we are forced to realize our limitations as humans.  Diabetes is a beast to be tamed – not by the diabetic alone, but by an entire village.

This chronic disease unveils our humanity – our need for insulin and food, for rest and exercise, for peace and excitement, for persistence and patience, even for solitude and community.  In my previous blog, I talked a lot about the need for support from time to time in life with Type 1 Diabetes.  In today’s post, I want to narrow in on the need for social support systems in handling “The Beast.”

I recently decided to start a local “meet up” group for Type 1 Diabetics and their significant others.  And the response has been encouraging and enlightening.  In my nearly five years of marriage and several years of dating prior, I have witnessed my husband taking on the impact of my Diabetes too.  The longer we’ve been together, the more it has crept into his life.  From my firsthand experience with the disease, I could only imagine the sort of strain that puts on him as a husband, caregiver and friend.  There’s a whole slew of emotions when considering this reality, and it is comforting to know my husband and I are not the only ones handling the unique challenges that Diabetes brings.

In close relationships, we inevitably share the weight of Diabetes.  It is important to share as much as we can in intimate relationships.  When we are open about our experiences, we can better share the load, which is indeed “loaded.”

My husband and I share the burden of dealing with insurance, ordering supplies, and picking up prescriptions.  I choose to be very open with him about how I think my blood sugars are affecting me emotionally and physically, and we often discuss our frustrations and triumphs around that.  (Diabetes has a knack for interrupting precious moments.)   As our families have come together, we’ve realized that we are a team in managing the disease. We are learning how to communicate with our loved ones the value of maintaining a routine and eating a certain way.  We are learning together what works and doesn’t work, and we can do so because we have created a safe place for these conversations happen.

That refuge is invaluable for healthy relationships and effective Diabetes management.  But just as we can feel isolated in our individual lives with Diabetes, we can feel isolated as couples or families living with Diabetes.  This beast is so huge and ugly that even those support systems need support.

All of us need to feel that we aren’t alone in our struggles.  We need others to understand what we’re going through.   It is amazing what connecting with others with the same challenges can do for our mental health and, consequently, our physical health.  We grow stronger when we work together to share our challenges and resolutions with our fellow Diabetes warriors.

Through my MeetUp, I’ve learned that there is a void needing to be filled in our community.  In just six months, we have grown into a local group of over 50 warriors.  The numbers continue to grow.  Our meetings do not have an agenda – just the openness to talk about life and allow diabetes to flow in and out as comes naturally.  It’s similar to the concept of Diabetes camp, where everyone engages in normal camp activities but diabetes management is so incorporated that that feels normal as well.  People leave feeling more understood and more supported.  And they keep coming back.  It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

diabetes support groupWe get more out of life and optimize our health when we we share our lives with others.  When we build our Diabetic community, we bring people out of isolation and give them a fighting chance against the disease.  When we come together, we renew our stamina and refine our strategies for taming “The Beast.”

*If you would like to find a group near you or are interested in starting one of your own, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

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