Posted by on Friday 31 December 2010

The amazing amazing DOC

As 2010 draws to a close I find myself looking back over the last 12 months and in particular the changes to my experience of diabetes. Emotionally sensitive readers, or those who find gushing saccharine-sweet outpourings a little cloying may want to look away now.

As the year began I was just doing what I always did to keep my diabetes under control. It worked, more or less, most of the time. There were a few too many highs, a few too many lows, the constant contradictory feeling that things could be better and that things were as good as could be expected while retaining any semblance of a normal life. I think this feeling plagues many who live with diabetes. The suspicion that if you had more self control or were willing to give up treats/flexibility/various major food groups and could commit to live an identical gram-perfect life every day your control would finally be sorted. Except that you can't. And let's face it even if you did you'd be pretty miserable, or at the very least pretty difficult to be around.

So I pottered along happily enough, thinking that things were OK. In a way I suppose they were. Then in February I had my unfortunate event (apologies to Kermode and Mayo's Wittertaining podcast) which, without boring you with details involved at various points: a massive hypo, loss of speech function, a suspected stroke and a trip to A&E. Suddenly the goalposts shifted and control which was 'good enough' was no longer good enough.

At about that time we began looking around online for people writing about their life with diabetes. There were a few European blogs, seemed to be almost nothing in the UK and quite a large number in the US. So we decided to begin our own blog - somewhere to share our experiences, rant, weep and post questions. Mostly writing for ourselves, but with some small hope that our shared experiences might offer support to others living with or affected by diabetes.

Life, like drawing is often a case of 'the more you look, the more you see'. Almost as soon as we had started writing about our own experiences we began to get feedback, comments and contact from a huge network of online PWD (people with diabetes). We began to have contact with well-established blogs, busy forums and frantic tweeterers from all over the globe. Before long I came across the term DOC (the Diabetic Online Community), or to give it it's official US-style title the Awesome DOC.

Steady now. Here's where it's going to get mushy.

You guys are amazing. Absolutely, completely and staggeringly amazing. Helpful, supportive, full of empathy, encouragment and very, very funny. Wise without being pushy. Full of advice but empty of 'rules and regulations'. I learned more tips, tricks, approaches and strategies in 6 months' contact with this online community than I have in maybe 15 years of appointments with Consultants, Registrars, Diabetes Specialist Nurses and Dieticians. I have been supported by people living with all different types of diabetes and have finally began to understand a little about life with type 2. Crucially all information is always suggested from the basis that everyone is different, there is no one-size-fits-all approach which will work. No overtones of judgement. A recognition that everyone will manage in their own way, with their own targets. Their own truimphs, failures and weaknesses. That we are all struggling against this common enemy on our own unique body-shaped battleground.

It struck me earlier in the year when the kids were listening to the Glee soundtrack (don't ask me which one), that the DOC should have Bill Withers' 'Lean on Me' as its anthem (a power-chord laden reworking by Blunt Lancet, naturally)...
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on
I still have ups and downs, hypos and hypers, but these seem fewer and further between. Thanks to the advice and support I have been given from people I have never met (nor in many cases am I ever likely to) I can honestly say that I have never felt so in control of my diabetes in all the years since diagnosis. I am not due to have an HbA1c until around April but my monthly averages for the last five months hover around 6.9mmol/l which, if the conversion formula is to be believed, equates to an HbA1c of around 5.9%. That's a full 1% drop since my last one.

So thank you all. Here's to a happy, healthy and spectacularly well controlled 2011 for everyone.


  1. Hurrah to that! Happy New Year Mike

  2. How incredibly well-written and heartfelt. We're all lucky to have each other, aren't we? :) Great post!

  3. Best wishes for the new year Mike :)

  4. Smashing post! Many thanks due to you, too, for also being awesome :)

  5. Fantastic post Mike.
    Very well said and sentiments obviously not only I can echo. Thank you for expressing the great joy the DOC brings to so many of us, especially those like ourselves who live outside the US.

  6. Thanks Simon. I just popped by your blog, which is great, and have added a link on our 'Diabetes Blogs Worth Reading' page. Hope that's OK!