We Need to Talk
If I ask a colleague to donate $10 to my walk for a disease she doesn't understand, she's unlikely to give.
If the big debate in town is whether or not to save money by eliminating school nurses, and my neighbor thinks that nurses just give out band-aids and call parents of sick children, she'll vote differently than I would.
If I tell the parents that my child knows everything she needs to know to be safe at the party, cross my fingers, and go home, they'll assume that what she's dealing with is no big deal.
Earlier this week I shared my diabetes awareness month goal of opening up a bit more about diabetes during regular every-day kinds of conversation: awareness-raising on a very small scale. These conversations feel, at first pass, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. They seemingly pale in comparison to traveling to Capitol Hill to meet legislators or starting a foundation. I think, though, that I've been underestimating their importance.
In addition to the potential for more support for me, and for my family, those conversations have the potential for a big ripple effect.
Someone who's heard my story about a scary low blood sugar incident is more likely to keep an extra eye on my child at their house.
Someone who's heard our harrowing diagnosis story will be better prepared to support a friend or coworker whose relative is newly diagnosed.
Someone who knows the amount of time and money it takes to keep just one child with diabetes alive will be more attuned to legislative issues related to health care and medical research.
Someone who knows how very tired and occasionally anxious diabetes makes us will be more likely to buy that paper JDRF sneaker at Marshalls.
If I'm really doing it right, someone who hears our story might even pass it along to a friend who will be more likely to do all of those things too. And if every one of us whose lives are touched by diabetes were to share a story now and then about why it's a big deal, imagine the ripples we could create. We need to talk.