I have lived right smack in the middle of California since not long after my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes 27 years ago. In all the years I've lived here, I have rarely been able to find any real support, activities, groups, etc., just for type 1 diabetics. There have been a few, usually through an insurance company or medical facility, and sometimes through charity organizations or even a small local group run by parents of diabetics. But these things were few and far between, and sometimes expensive and impersonal.
I wasn't looking for support groups per se, or camps, or money raising or awareness raising events. I was looking more for a club type experience. You know a group of type 1's just like me that get together on a regular basis and hang out, do stuff, and on top of that,be there for each other in ways no one, not even those close to us (simply because they are not diabetic themselves) can't be.
To hang out with a group of people who live in my area and just so happen to be type 1, too. For free, no strings attached...you just need to be a type 1. That would be awesome. Why doesn't this exist? If it ever did exist I missed the memo all these years.
When I started really getting into the internet, and really getting into my health and diabetes control. I started thinking more and more about social media and diabetes. I found a web site called TuDiabetes.org and joined up. It is a social media site just for diabetics and family of diabetics. Being a member of this site has helped me so much; I have gained so much knowledge and support from interaction with all the members. And then I found a lot of diabetics on Twitter and #DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy). Through social media I found so much help and emotional support. It's amazing.
I have absolutely no problem with type 2 diabetics and type 1 diabetics and family of diabetics all mixing together and supporting each other. It's wonderful and needed. But I also know, through personal experience, how type 1s are the minority, and type 1s tend to end up the wallflowers in the corner of the party. It just happens, maybe because there are so few type 1s compared to type 2s. But in the end we need to find each other...
And, as I said before, be there for each other in a way no non-type 1 can ever be.
Social media has helped a lot, but I still want an in person experience. I want to have type 1 friends in my area. And I want to help type 1 kids. I went through so much crap emotionally and psychologically as a child because of my diabetes. I want to be available to diabetic kids, to let them know they are not alone, to answer their questions and help guide them to be able to handle the hardships of being diabetic. And to be a friend they can know that shows them their life doesn't have to be all too different and painful (in all ways) from any other person's.
Type 1 adults tend to get the short end of the stick as well. We are forgotten most of the time because type 1 attention seems to almost always be on the kids. I also want type 1 adult friends, and I also want to be there for type 1 adults. The hardship and pain doesn't go away when you hit adulthood. In fact, it stays and on top of all that crap, now you have to be an adult and do adult things while taking care of your diabetes all by yourself. We need friends, we need friends who know our struggle and live it, too.
I pondered the idea for months. I finally came to the decision of starting a Facebook page for type 1's in the San Joaquin Valley. This page can be used to get to know each other, and hopefully eventually to post events and in person gatherings. It's a first step in realizing the type of group I always wanted to be a part of.
I hope it works out. If you know any type 1 diabetics living in the San Joaquin Valley of California, point them to this page,please!