Creating a Circle of Support
No one can go it alone. Whether you have diabetes or you’re a caregiver, it’s important to have a few options for emotional support. Knowing who to turn to with specific questions will make life easier.
Find other people with diabetes
Few things are more comforting than talking with someone who understands you when you have diabetes, or if you are facing a type 1 or type 2 diagnosis. If you don’t already have a friend or family member with diabetes who can fill this role, seek out a diabetes support group near you. What have you got to lose? If you don’t like one group, look for another until something clicks. Another great way to find others who support people with diabetes is to volunteer or join fundraising events for diabetes non-profit groups. Some helpful groups may be:
Diabetes South Africa (www.diabetessa.org.za)
Youth with Diabetes (www.youthwithdiabetes.com)
Join the DOC
The DOC is the Diabetes Online Community, a deep well of inspiration and support, all online. There are dozens of options: message boards, private groups, social media, blogs… people with diabetes are online everywhere. Some examples of helpful Facebook pages you can join are:
Know your healthcare team
You’ve worked with your healthcare providers to lay out a plan for controlling your diabetes, so don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Make (and keep) regular appointments with your primary physician, and find someone like a nurse or diabetes educator you can contact whenever you have questions about your health.
Enlist your child’s school
If your child has diabetes, build a team of caretakers for your own peace of mind. Ask the school principal or head teacher to arrange a meeting between you and anyone who needs to understand your child’s diabetes needs, such as office workers, the school nurse, all teachers, coaches, and even transportation or field trip chaperones. The Kids and Diabetes in Schools (KiDS) project is a valuable resource for creating a supportive environment at school. Download the information pack , which is divided into sections for teachers, parents of children with diabetes, children with diabetes, and parents in general. It’s free, and can be used with any educational session you arrange with your school.
Additionally, get a clear understanding from your doctor about how the school day should work properly, and then make sure that the school understands your child’s daily treatment needs. The school nurse is your best friend. They’ll be your biggest asset when it comes to teaching other staff at the school about how to care for your child. Above all, don’t get discouraged. Learning curves are steep for the first few weeks, and that’s okay.
Educate your family and friends
One of the tasks that comes with living with diabetes is educating the people around you who aren’t living with it. You may feel like it’s not working, but keep educating others, always speak up, and be clear about what really helps you (and what doesn’t). In time, everyone will be on the same page. And if there’s ever an emergency, they’ll know what to do.