Diagnosed shortly after the birth of her third child at age 37, Amy scoured the Internet for information and came up short in patient perspectives. “There didn’t seem to be any ‘real voice of the patient’ out there,” she says. “A noncommercial site that would be consistently informative but also a offer a community where we could vent, share, and laugh a little. Blogs allow people to report from the heart on what it’s really like to live with this volatile disease.”
The following three blogs display that commitment to creating an environment where honest discussion of life with diabetes can flourish.
George, 34, is a self-proclaimed “born-again diabetic.” Diagnosed at 17, George rarely thought about his diabetes. He checked his blood glucose level only every few weeks. And while he injected the amount of insulin his doctor prescribed, he never paid attention to what he was eating, and he smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. His visits to the doctor were few and far between.
“There was absolutely no management at all,” said George. “I did not want to care. I wanted to be ‘normal.’”
In January 2006, George found a podcast (a digital audio file that can be played on a computer) called diabeticfeed (diabeticfeed.blogspot.com) that was hosted by Christel Marchand and produced by John Aprigliano and that covered news, research, and personal perspectives about diabetes. One show featured Kerri Morrone, a 27-year-old with Type 1 diabetes and author of the blog Six Until Me (www.sixuntilme.com). George visited her blog and saw links to other blogs by people with diabetes. He began visiting each on a regular basis.
“The first few blogs I read I thought to myself, ‘These people are hard-core. I don’t think I could be on top of this the way they are.’ But then I would see people stumbling.”
The support group atmosphere helped him emotionally, but George didn’t expect that blogging would help to drastically change his diabetes management. He had not seen an endocrinologist in over 10 years and knew very little about the latest technology, such as insulin pumps, or about complications. When bloggers discussed blood glucose levels, he realized he couldn’t answer the simple question, “What was your blood glucose this morning?” because he never checked. An endocrinologist appointment soon informed George that his glycosylated hemoglobin level (HbA1c, or A1C) was 12.5%. (The HbA1c is a measure of blood glucose control over the previous 2–3 months. Current recommendations are to maintain an HbA1c below 7% and ideally lower, or as close as possible to the normal range of 4% to 6%.)
“I knew it was time to take this disease seriously,” George said. He came across the phrase “born-again diabetic” and decided that was the name for his new blog. “It just seemed that now I had all these connections to people who cared and who understood.”
Almost a year later, George’s HbA1c was 7.6%, his 14-day blood glucose average was 134 mg/dl, and he was monitoring his blood glucose level 8–12 times a day. He now counts carbohydrates, and he visits an endocrinologist, podiatrist, ophthalmologist, and dietitian regularly. With the support of other bloggers, George also quit smoking.