Feeling Alone? No Need With the Proper Support

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“My father went to war on an Italian cruise ship,” I said when my husband answered his phone.

“Ummm… the monkey sings at midnight?” he responded, hesitantly.

“No, no. He really did! He went to war on an Italian cruise ship!” I repeated.

OK, OK. It began life as an Italian cruise ship, but was purchased in 1942 by the US Navy for use as a troop transport. Dad joined in 1944 and was transported to the South Pacific on the ship.

Which has nothing to do with diabetes, of course. Maybe. (Hey, I can stretch things.)

Dad was supposed to take an Honor Flight trip to Washington, DC, with other WWII veterans to see the World War II monument and other sites. Sadly, he was unwell the day of the trip and was unable to go. (Honor Flight is a program that takes veterans to DC for the day, free of charge. It’s focusing on WWII vets now because of their old age. Dad is 87.)

It’s a shame. Not only was he looking forward to the trip, it would have put him with other people in the same situation: They all fought in World War II. Dad’s never talked about his war experiences. Perhaps being in that milieu would have allowed him to open up, share with others, and learn that his experiences weren’t unique; that he wasn’t alone. In other words, a support group. (We lived in a very small town, or else there might have been a VFW post for him to frequent.)

Do you belong to any support groups? Like a diabetes support group, for example? (Was that obvious or what?) If not, I highly recommend it. If you’re not near a group that meets in person, find one online that meets your needs. I know you have access to a computer. I finally had to find an online support group because I’d moved beyond the knowledge level of many of those in my local group. (I still attend some functions, such as the Kabab-a-Rama conducted by a chef.)

Even Diabetes Self-Management’s blogs can serve as a support group. Much to my surprise, a blog entry I wrote about Victoza moved from having comments on a blog to becoming more of a support group, with 198 comments and counting. Why, I don’t know, but I guess there’s a need out there for people dealing with one specific thing — in this case an anti-diabetes medicine — to share their experiences, check to see if anybody else has noticed the same things they have, and so on.

I’m always delighted when I get a comment from somebody saying, in effect, “That happens to you, too? I thought I was the only one!”

A support group gives you a chance to find out that you’re not alone. It lets you ask “stupid” questions you may be hesitant to discuss with your diabetes team. Depending on the size of the group, you may even get multiple answers — with several different suggestions — to your questions. One suggestion might fit; others may not. But it’s good to be able to choose what’s best for you.

Make sure that people are not giving medical advice. The general “rule” is that they can only tell you what works for them. Only your health-care professional can give you medical advice.

Where are the online groups? Key “diabetes support groups online” into your search engine and go from there. An in-person group can be found by asking your diabetes educator or other health-care people involved in caring for people with diabetes.

It may take you a while to find just the right one, but somewhere out there is a group for you.

I wish Dad had been able to get together with his.

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