A few weeks ago I was invited to participate on a panel discussion about managing life with Type 2 diabetes to the Boehringer Ingleheim Pharmaceutical Company in Danbury, Conn. The panel discussion was on the campus of the company with about 100 staff who attended and a virtual hook-up through out the company. I was joined by two other members of Diabetes Sisters, Michele from Princeton, NJ and Cindy from Rochester, NY.
We were asked to tell our stories. How were we told about our diagnosis? What resource information was offered to us? How did our family and friends react? What changes did we make in our lifestyles? What are the biggest challenges we face? They wanted to hear our individual stories to humanize the people they want to help.
It was a rare privilege to have a group of individuals involved in our essential healthcare want to understand our very personal experiences. What is daily life like, the fears and the stigma and the emotional ups and downs.
All three of us emphasized the importance of creating a community of peers who personally understand the demands of the illness. We explained the importance of sharing information and sharing compassionate encouragement from those who walk in the same shoes and how that helps us manage the isolation and stigma and medicalization we often experience.
This experience gave me hope. It gave me me an opportunity to reflect on how things have changed for the better over the decade since my diagnosis. First, there is endless access to information over the Internet. I can be very well informed and be constantly learning. There is greater peer support thru Internet based groups and groups like Diabetes Sisters.
Maybe the tide is turning for the better. Maybe all the players, the patients, the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies can begin to listen to each other. Maybe the big pharmaceutical companies do have a heart beating in it's chest not just a cash register.
When the discussion was concluded we received a standing ovation!
Thanks for listening and I truly hope this conversation can continue.
Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with love,