NYC diabetes support groups

This weekend, I got to spend time with two separate support groups for patients with diabetes. On Saturday, I attended my first “Dawn Phenomenon” session. This is a Saturday workout session run by Rachelle Glantz, a New York City team leader for Insulindependence.org. Insulindependence, or In as they call themselves, is a group for patients who make exercise a part of their treatment. The group has four separate sub-groups called A1Sea (for ¬†surfing, diving and kayaking), Glucomotive (for running and walking), Testing Limits (outdoor adventure) and Triabetes (triathlon). Rachelle is the head of the Triabetes group for this area.

I have been learning more about In over the last few weeks and plan on joining soon (a yearly membership requires a minimal fee). I am really impressed with them as a grass-roots organization that connects very driven patients with a healthy and supportive community. The people involved seem to be really impressive athletes, regardless of the fact that they have diabetes. Most importantly, they all seem to “own” their diabetes. They are tackling their condition head-on and refuse to have it affect their other goals in life.

On Sunday, I attended the New York Type 1 Diabetes Meetup group’s June event. This was my fifth time at a Meetup. We normally grab dinner together, although this time we met in Prospect Park for lunch. The group usually draws 5 to 15 patients. Many are like me and have had diabetes for 20 or 30 years. Others are newly diagnosed and still learning about the condition. The conversations are always interesting for a variety of reasons. First, it highlights how uniquely diabetes affects different people. While one patient may have a particular outcome in one situation, another patient may have a completely different outcome when encountering the exact same situation. For example, we recently talked about how drinking alcohol affects diabetes. For me, the large amount of carbs in beer and liquor do not affect me. My blood sugar level does not rise or fall in the hours during or after I drink. Yet another patient sees the opposite, with the carbs having the same effect on their body as sandwich. He takes a dose of insulin to compensate for the carbs while I don’t take any.

The best thing about the Meetup is that everyone is supportive of each other’s situation. Even this casual discussion of daily challenges does feel good. Having lived with diabetes for 26 years now, I do not feel isolated by it. My control is also very good right now. But still, I always learn something about diabetes and leave thinking about whether some of the treatment decisions other patients make might be right for me too. I strongly encourage other patients to take part in these types of activities regardless of your situation. There is always something valuable and unique about gaining knowledge from other patients rather than your doctor. I know I didn’t have this type of support when I was newly diagnosed and most needed it. It’s nice to think that other patients can benefit from the wisdom we have accumulated over the years.

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