Guest Post, My Story

My Story: Finding a Support Group

Thanksgiving is the time of year when people reflect on the people and things they are thankful for in their lives.  One of our DSME support group participants, Anne, shares her story about how the support group has helped her learn how to better manage her Diabetes. 

Given her family history, she knew there was always a chance she would develop Diabetes and had already been preparing herself for that possibility.  After her diagnosis, her doctor mentioned the support group held every month at the MGH Diabetes Center.  Feeling the need to talk to other people who understand what it’s like to have Diabetes, and lacking a support group in her hometown, the decision to attend was easy.  

Something she noticed very quickly was several of her fellow group members were angry about having Diabetes, a feeling Anne didn’t share and couldn’t really understand.  Fearing a cancer diagnosis, learning she had Diabetes came as a relief—at least with Diabetes there was something she can do about it.  The way she looks at it, Diabetes keeps you on top of your health; now that she’s getting older, Anne knows she it’s especially important to pay attention to managing her Diabetes. 

Nevertheless, Anne insists that the group is made up of a great bunch of helpful, supportive people.  If you’re feeling down or having a bad day, she says, they have a way of bringing you up and helping you feel better.  She’s developed strong friendships with several members and they get together on occasion outside of group meetings.  

But what she enjoys most about the support groups is that every session is an opportunity to learn something new.  Sometimes it’s a new brand of pasta a fellow group member found, a new dessert recipe or a way to feel motivated to exercise.  Other times, it’s the way foods break down into glucose, the need to test her blood more often or the amount of sugar in fruit and yogurt.  One thing she was especially amazed to learn was how quickly exercise can lower blood glucose levels. 

Although it’s been several years since her diagnosis, Anne feels she hasn’t yet scratched the surface of what she can learn, especially with regards to her diet.  She rarely if ever misses a session, and hopes to continue to learn more about living well with Diabetes.  More than anything, Anne considers herself blessed to be at MGH.

Announcements, Health

Life Happens

Managing Diabetes is a full time job.  Testing blood sugar, managing medications and making healthy food choices are all daily activities.  You do your best to log your blood sugar, eat right and find time to exercise so you maintain good control of your Diabetes.  But sometimes things in your life get in the way.  

Maybe the train home was delayed so dinner ended up being fast food from the drive-thru.  Or family obligations have kept you from going to the gym regularly.  Or you missed the timing of your medications because you’re out with friends having a good time.  It can be discouraging when all the hard work you’ve put into keeping your blood sugars in range and looking after your health is interrupted by things you can’t easily predict or control.  

Life happens.  The important part is not to get down on yourself for those times when your management isn’t 100% perfect.  Instead, focus on a recent accomplishment—the week you went for a walk every night after dinner, a drop in your last A1C, or any other moment you find inspiring—to motivate you to pick back up and continue on. 

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or think you might be suffering from Diabetes Burnout, try talking to someone you trust—a Diabetes educator, family member or close friend who can offer support and encouragement.  It’s also important to talk to your health care provider if you think you’re experiencing Diabetes burnout.  You might also consider joining a support group.  Diabetes support groups are available regularly at the Mass General main campus and regional HealthCare Centers.

(Post content reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center)