Penny’s advice for people who are starting a blog is to be honest.
“Don’t worry about what others are thinking about what you say. You’re always going to have someone who may not necessarily agree with what you’re saying,” Penny said. “And don’t get discouraged if you think you aren’t making a difference. You might be surprised how many people are actually reading what you write.”
As for Riley, he started using an insulin pump in early 2006.
Rachel—Tales of Rachel
Rachel, 30, was diagnosed with prediabetes when she was 25 years old. After losing weight and then regaining it, she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in March 2005, just before her 29th birthday. Rachel resolved to make decisive changes to lose weight soon. Her husband, Greg, has Type 1 diabetes, and Rachel’s knowledge of blood glucose monitoring and nutrition helped her gain control of her blood glucose levels through diet and exercise. Rachel already used blogging to communicate with friends, but diabetes was at the forefront of her mind, and she decided to start a new blog to discuss her new lifestyle changes.
“I found myself talking about diabetes quite a bit after my diagnosis,” Rachel said. “It had changed my lifestyle and led to some major decisions about my future, which changed many of my friendships. I needed to share my experience with a larger audience, especially after discovering a network of other bloggers with diabetes. I thought I could find people who might understand what I was going through by talking about it.”
One mission of many bloggers is to be an example to others who are dealing with the condition, and this was on Rachel’s list of goals. Rachel lowered her HbA1c from 6.4% at diagnosis to 5.4% through changes in her diet and exercise routine.
“Blogging about my success, as well as those occasional minor failures, motivates me to stick to good eating and exercising habits so that I can continue to influence others to do the same,” Rachel explained. “I have learned how lucky I was to be diagnosed with an HbA1c level of 6.4% and not a much higher one 5 or 10 years down the road when complications could have begun setting in.”
But living with diabetes successfully is not an easy mission, and Rachel blogs about both the good and the bad. One special post for Rachel was about an experience at work, when there were some donuts mere feet away from her. Rachel wrote that she did eat something sweet that day, but she managed to resist the donuts, and she was proud that she was able to overcome the temptation.
“By recording that experience in my blog, I have a reminder of a time when I fought off temptation,” Rachel said. “I think about it every time that I have to make a decision about letting myself have a sweet treat.”
Sharing experiences is an important aspect of why Rachel blogs and how she believes others can benefit.
“Whether someone is looking for a creative outlet or a way to share information, blogging provides an excellent way for people around the world to share experiences, whether it be the experience of living with a chronic disease or having a common interest,” she said.
Rachel’s advice to those who are just beginning to blog is to be cautious and to protect your privacy. She recommends thinking carefully before disclosing your last name or employer or posting photographs.
Safe, not sorry
As the number of blogs on the Internet continues to grow, new diabetes blogs crop up each week. In November 2005, approximately 30 blogs were listed on the Official Diabetes O.C. Web site (www.diabetesoc.blogspot.com), a directory of diabetes-related blogs. Currently, there are hundreds. The number of active readers of these blogs is unknown.