I was reading the Wall Street Journal and discovered the following report published on 2/26/17, "When Patients Share Stories, Health Insights Emerge." What researcher's found was that "people are willing to discuss things very frankly when they are in a roomful of people who share their experiences" and " the goal is to understand the unspoken challenges that effect a patient's ability to get and stay healthy."
Another important finding was about the social influence on health- people often improve or worsen together. As a PODS co-leader in the Princeton, NJ area, I can personally testify to the power of the group in improving the well being of our members. Our last meeting on "Hormonal Changes- Perimenopause and Menopause and Diabetes" is a perfect example. There were 15 of us cozily crammed around our table in the library meeting room. We were reviewing common symptoms of hormonal changes as discussed in the ADA's "Sex and Diabetes" by Janis Roszler and Donna Rice (good book!). We went through the list: menstrual changes, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings, fluctuations in sexual desire and response, weight changes, bouts of rapid heartbeat, frequent urinary leaking, vaginal infections, depression and painful intercourse. We all agreed that these physical changes were rarely discussed and were generally a taboo subject (not so male ED many observed).
In our peer environment we could be honest and more open about what we were experiencing as individuals. It was no longer taboo and because we could speak about these physical changes among ourselves maybe we could open up to our partners and healthcare providers too.
As our discussion continued we began to talk about how these hormonal changes effect our perception of ourselves as sexual partners. Now we laughed and shared our concerns and remedies and felt relief that we were not alone. And for some of us there was lessening of guilt and sadness over how aging and diabetes makes being sexually active more pain then pleasure.
Could I have had this kind of experience without the PODS group? Did we leave our meeting satisfied? Yes, by friendship, understanding and taking care of each other.
My conclusion- our PODS meetup fills in the human element that is crucial to living well with diabetes.
Spring is coming. Hope you enjoy the season!