Saturday, 14 November 2009

Diabetes Support Forum UK

Diabotics Gluco Jon and Polly Urea celebrate World Diabetes Day!
Today is World Diabetes Day. A year ago today, a new forum was launched in the UK, supported by the charity Diabetes UK (although not widely publicised enough still!). Having been diagnosed just a few months before, I had visited a few other forums, but was largely perplexed by their complexity, number of sub-divisions, varieties of diabetes, diet and control methods, plus the sheer number of members and daily postings. So, it was refreshing to encounter a new, home-grown forum that I could get into from the beginning.

Things started expanding rapidly from the start, with between 10 and 40 new members joining every day and introducing themselves. I’d read up a lot on diabetes care since my diagnosis, including studying an Open University course on the subject, so found my self in a position to be able to offer suggestions to the other members in answer to their questions. Plus, I was familiar with the mechanisms of a support forum, having been a moderator on another forum, unrelated to diabetes, for many years. I also had a lot of time on my hands, and an eagerness to learn what I could and discuss experiences with the other members. As a result, after a few months, I was asked to become a Moderator for the forum, to help keep the place ticking over and watch out for any bogus or abusive posts, or simply to steer new members to the appropriate section or give instruction on operating the forum.

The forum grew, and as it was growing, so was a new life in the tummy of the forum’s founder! As a result of her pregnancy, the founder asked if I would take over the administration of the place whilst she took some time of to have, and care for, her baby. Now we are a few months further down the line, having expanded hugely in that time, and with nearly 75,000 posts and 1,676 members! Not all those members post all the time, of course. Some never post, some post for a short while then disappear, yet others have posted thousands of times and then departed. There are new people coming in all the time though, and this keeps the place vibrant and fresh. It’s wonderful to see the transformation in people from frightened, panicking, newly-diagnosed into confident and supportive experts on their own diabetes. Plus, I have learned of the anguish and frustrations presented to parents of diabetic children, who cope with remarkable stoicism and give such tremendous support to one another.

The bond that unites all the members, whatever type their diabetes, or length since diagnosis, or if they are parents, carers, teenagers, pensioners, athletes, makes it a very good place to spend time. There are the realities of diabetes, the terrible complications that can be visited on people, but there is also the great humour of people in the face of adversity, which helps to keep us all going. Next week, a large group of us will be meeting up in London. I am sure that will carry the bond of friendship to new levels, and I’m very much looking forward to it! Pictures, no doubt, will follow!

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