Where would we be without community? I rely on two communities for support. The Rheumatoid Arthritis Community is passionately caring. They hold me up when things are tough, or I am having a miserable day. They give me a wide berth to be sad, happy, relieved, angry and passionate about dealing with the daily trials of having RA. They are a rock of my foundation.
The Diabetes community keeps me informed, advocating, active, angry at injustice, and happy for small victories. They understand when I say I am riding the roller coaster of blood sugar, had a pump failure or that something is bolus worthy. They are the people I go to most for help and day to day advice.
Together they are my online community and frankly I cannot live well without either. These online communities are a real blessing to me and others who participate in them. We can interact, tell stories and share research about our conditions.
Our online communities are like small spheres of understanding in a larger world that seems regrettably harsh sometimes. We go to them when we need support and advice. Being a member of wider online community is about more than commiserating, it gives me true purpose when I find I need direction. I get to live beyond myself. Not to wallow in others misfortune but to offer understanding and advice when asked. One of the greatest things I have ever been told came through the diabetes community I serve. A commentator discussing A1C (a measure of blood glucose) that I used to dread, reminded me it is just a number. Numbers are things; they are not value judgements. Yes, I want mine to be lower, but my A1C is not me. Just as the number of steps I walk is not me, or my weight is not me, these are just numbers. Unleashing that knowledge has meant more to me than one hundred doctors’ visits, or one thousand finger sticks because it frees me to understand and not fear diabetes.
When I visit my doctor be it the Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist or the Ophthalmologist I am not alone, I bring two entire communities with me. I am accompanied by those I have helped and those who have helped me. I am no longer the singular person with diabetes or RA who lived in fear of judgement or ridicule. Instead, I am empowered by the many who share my experience.
Because of these communites I am now ready to participate in my healthcare as a fully involved person. Together my doctors and I can make better choices and chart a better course to improve my health. I value this new way of working with my medical professionals and it is only possible because of my greater online community. So when you think you are alone do as I do; turn to your online community because that is where you will find unconditional support and that is a great blessing to me.