In last night’s OzDOC tweet chat, this question was asked:

OzDOC tweet

Obviously, I am a huge fan of the diabetes online community. I am honoured and lucky to have met so many amazing people both online and in real life. And many of these people, I truly consider to be friends.

But when I was diagnosed, I certainly had no desire to meet anyone else living with diabetes. Surely having nothing more than a faulty pancreas in common wasn’t the basis for lifelong friendships. And that is the truth. When I look at the people in the DOC who I am friends with, we have far more in common than a need to carb count and inject insulin.

While diabetes may have brought us together, it certainly isn’t what has held us together. The reasons the friendship has developed into something more than exchanges on Twitter include similar attitude to life in general; the same (often questionable) senses of humour; a mutual like of travel; kids the same age (many of my friends and I were planning pregnancies at the same time); sympathetic political views; a love of Nutella.

Today, I wouldn’t be without my friends from the DOC. I have been kept company many nights, unable to sleep, by many of my northern hemisphere friends. Our discussions span far more than diabetes, and the advice, comfort and friendship offered has seen me through difficult times as I feel the embrace of those many  thousands of miles away. This community has become my extended family.

We can’t force the DOC onto people. But what we could consider is making sure that people newly diagnosed are at least aware that there is a dynamic and supportive community out there. We can provide the connections and the networks. We can provide the ‘how to’ and allow people to dip their toe in gingerly and remain in the background. But it needs to be up to the individual to decide if and when they want to make the approach. And when they do, we will greet them with open arms and welcome them.