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Paying It Forward - Diabetics Spreading The Love

As we’ve delved into before, there are positives about diabetes. But something that needs revisiting is our ability to help others.

Quick Snapshot

3 years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Shortly after I faced surgery to prevent a detached retina and on the day of my results (one week later), my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She underwent 3 surgeries; a lumpectomy, mastectomy and finally surgery to remove a hematoma. Then ’forced’ IVF (we don’t have kids), 6 months of chemo, 5 weeks of daily radiotherapy, and as a cherry on top, the drug to stop the cancer coming back has a symptom of severe joint pain and premature menopause. Now she lives with chronic back pain due to degenerative joint disease and she faces the prospect of never having children naturally.

She has been through the ringer!

But ever since her diagnosis, she has spent her time supporting and coaching other cancer patients. She is a pillar of strength for others despite its impact on her; I regularly see her come home exhausted, both mentally and physically from revisiting her trauma, through others. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is why Believe the hypo exists. I’ve seen the impact first-hand of paying it forward and without a shadow of a doubt, it will enhance your life.

Think about the life of a diabetic for a moment.

It’s consistently inconsistent. It’s painful, scary and unpredictable.

To make life that little bit more deleterious, we alone manage our disease and are given decades-old dietary and medical advise which we must take at face-value, but also test each theory on ourselves, only to find the advise wasn’t always as accurate as we’d hoped for.

So at the end of each day, when we’re exhausted at managing our own disease, why is it a good idea to help another?

1) Skills

- You have developed countless skills whilst managing diabetes. You are practically on the spectrum with your math skills. You can weigh a bowl of ice-cream in your head and tell the carb content. You know the local pharmacy better than your local drug dealer. You can administer medication better than most anaesthesiologists. Multi-tasking is child’s play to you and your a walking, talking nutritional information sticker. Have I missed something out? (I’m sure you’ll tell me).

2) Compassion

The ability and perseverance to go through what a diabetic must endure is profound, but one of the amazing things to come out of such turmoil is compassion. We know how hard life can be and we understand when we see people going through hard times. Lending an ear and letting someone know that you understand goes a long way in supporting someone.

3) Support

We have the ability to get out and meet people. A lot of people are crippled by their disease and are unable to physically support another. We have the mental and physical capacity to attend fundraisers, charity walks/runs, etc. The only thing it costs us is our time.

4) The meaning of life

When we‘re all on our death bed, it’s the people that we befriended, loved and supported that will bring joy; not the expensive watch, car, or house. We’re lucky enough to have been given a big dose of perspective having this disease, so get out - touch base with fellow diabetics or people going through another disease or trauma. Put your life experience to good use.

Benefits for you

Giving your time to others is enormously rewarding, but surprisingly it benefits more than just your self-satisfaction. Here are a few things that giving your time and self will benefit.

1) Mental Health

- Your emotional and psychological wellbeing are greatly impacted when you help others. In fact, there isn’t anything quite as beneficial as helping another human being (or animal for that matter).

If you have experienced mental health problems or continue to - try volunteering for people in need. There have been studies that show when you give to charity, parts of your brain are stimulated and produce happy hormones like dopamine and endorphins. The same stimuli that certain recreational drugs produce.

2) Happy in your community

- Studies have shown that when people in a community give more of their time and resources, the community as a whole benefits, plus you’ll be more content and happy.

3) Reduced Stress

- We already have enough of this, but plenty of studies have shown that charitable giving and volunteering results in less stress and lower blood pressure.

4) Social

- When you spend time helping others, you surround yourself with people that care. Care enough to give the most precious thing they have, time. These people enhance your social circle and bring joy to your life. There is no class structure or professional network. They come from every walk of life, and this benefits you in ways you won’t imagine.

People who give are known in their family, community and profession. They’re loved and respected. They don’t have to be rich or retired. They simply dedicate a small proportion of their time to others.

Diabetics have amazing skills that they accumulate over many years. Our knowledge on a plethora of subjects is encyclopaedic; but more than anything else, we learn to see the world in a whole new way, as we juggle normal day-to-day problems with medical needs. We live on a wire - balancing life with our bodies constant changing demands.

We dream of having one day - no, one hour off from our disease. Well, if there’s one thing you learn today let it be this;

the day you give your time and your support to another, you’ll be free from diabetes, if only for a minute.

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson’


Believe the hypo

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