What have I learned during this November, another ‘National Diabetes Awareness Month’ (NDAM)?
Call me jaded, but I am already quite aware of diabetes every time I poke my skin with one of hundreds of thousands of needles involved since my T1D diagnosis almost 29 years ago; or, when tweeting out the bat signal during a 4:07 am low blood sugar yet again interrupting a healthy sleep cycle, and seeing dozens of Twitter folks nodding in solidarity.
During NDAM this year, I felt a sense of “been there, done that.” Frankly, at times, I did not even like this month- having the unwanted spotlight on me per se, as one member of the diabetes demographic.
November has its merits: sharing the warning signs of diabetes to prevent future death and disability related to preventable DKA; highlighting the high price of insulin; detailing why #weneedacure; finding much-needed new voices here in the diabetes community; involving people without diabetes in the diabetes cause. All good stuff.
I suppose for me, personally, the pivotal “woke” advocacy moment did not occur this November, though. Rather, it was in September 2019, when watching the peaceful protest video of Nicole Smith-Holt, hearing the anguish in her voice as she said her son’s name then, and continuing to hear it resonate now. That is good advocacy- the kind that wakes you up, makes you think many months later.
Some media coverage of that September citation moment was passive in its reporting. ‘Protester tripped and fell into a cop car’ sort of stuff. Far from it. Given the circumstances, Nicole and other advocates see a need for change, and they bravely and gracefully take action to get us there.
During November, I shared a few random tweets about life with diabetes, the hope for a cure, etc. But mostly, I tried to do more listening than talking this time around. As I tackle other challenges lately, diabetes has not taken up as much space in my world. Perhaps that is a change of interests, my admitted privilege, or a combination of these and other factors.
But at the end of the month, it’s not all about me. It’s simply about making our world better for all people touched by diabetes- honoring the past, present, and future. Whether it is November or December, we have no other choice but to continue showing up to the diabetes fight.
Perhaps, here in the informed online diabetes realm, we are aware enough already.
The real question may well be: Are we awake yet?