June 17, 2013

More Activities of Our Diabetes Group

The last six months have been very active for our group. We have gained and lost members, resulting in now three diabetes support groups for type 2 diabetes. I am very happy with our group now as we do have some organization and the biggest improvement has been the membership committee. Tim did an excellent job of establishing criteria and naming the members.

First, we will only accept type 2 people with diabetes and those with prediabetes. We have one exception for a high school type 1 to attend from time to time and that is Lilly and her parents. Everyone has now met Lilly. Max was the one that introduced her at our last meeting. Lilly is a member at large and presently the only one that will be allowed. Next, we will try to screen our members based on the criteria.

Tim announced that we now have two meeting places that are available to us with a weeks notice since we generally meet on Saturdays. Both will hold more members than we imagine having. All we have to do is notify them of our meeting and they will be unlocked for us. We must keep the rooms clean and notify them of the people using the room after each meeting. Tim has written letters stating what we understand and thanking those responsible for permission to use them.

What has been a surprise is the number of our members participating in speaking to the group in a town east of us and participating in peer-to-peer education of their members at their doctor's request. He had asked us to host his group with our local doctor working with us and brought over three vans of 13 patients of his to attend one of our meetings. Tim and Barry went to work with several of us to round out a program and include the program that Barry had presented to us. Tim asked if they could bring any portable computers they owned, and we would supply heavy extension cords for power. This worked very well and when we finished the program, the doctor asked if it would be possible to have two more meetings this year together, one in their town and another here. He felt that everyone learned from us and this led to a round of applause by the visiting group.

This was followed by about an hour of questions from them and this pleasantly surprised us and they were asking how we had stayed together as a group. Jason took the lead and said that each of us have email addresses for the other members of the group. When there was an interesting article or an article like the study on Januvia and Byetta, someone would make a comment about it and email it to everyone. This is also in one of my blogs. If questions came from this, the originator would restate the question, and he or she would send out an answer. Others might make comments if they had thoughts about the topic. We were asked what would happen if someone disagreed with what was being said. Jason answered; the disagreement would be stated and acknowledged. No one person was put down for disagreeing and if someone slipped on this, and then the person would be told so by probably everyone. This has only happened once that he could recall and the topic was very controversial to begin with anyhow. He stated that Tim and I had moderated the emails as the group had been almost evenly divided on the topic.

Then Sue said one thing that helped her and her husband Bob was that fact that two or more emails would be generated for each meeting and emailed to anyone absent. This was another reason we felt so close because we had permission to be absent and were kept in the loop. Sue then got the question she had been expecting. Why was she still attending since she was off medications. Sue answered that because she had support from the group when she most needed it after her diagnosis with type 2 diabetes. She felt a loyalty to the group and we had continued to support her and encourage her to stay off medications. She said diabetes is a battle by itself and to get the support she did from the group, she could not and would not abandon them.

Then her husband, Bob spoke up and asked how many had heard of the diabetes police. Almost every hand went up. Bob said this is another reason they were as loyal as he now had prediabetes and was still on metformin, but hoped to be off before long. He continued that he was the one that outed his wife as having diabetes because she had been the diabetes police to the group before diagnosis. He said he had wanted the group to give her payback, but that no one had. She was asked to be part of the group and was given support and encouragement that did not quit. He said how can you not be loyal to a group that does this for you. He continued that when he was diagnosed with prediabetes, he was welcomed into the group and was also receiving support and encouragement to get off medications. He said this support was verbal and in the form of emails about anything that might be helpful in their goals. This meant URLs for articles and studies showing what was possible. He concluded this support was done for all members by all members and even though most are on insulin, they still have concern for each member. He said this creates loyalty that can't be ignored.

I was then asked if the group gave me blog topics. I said they do, I am not expected to use every one, but some are good topics and others are off of diabetes directly, but are of interest. If they are of enough interest and can be tied to diabetes, I often blog about them. I said this has been most helpful and sometimes I just use these as topics for emails to everyone. I said that occasionally I am even supplied with the full study when the member can write and ask for a digital copy. This is then passed to the members to read as well. I commented that some of the topics are used for our meetings. I said the one part of the program this evening was used in a previous meeting and that I had blogged about it. I said some of you may have read it and were wondering why it was included. We added material to keep us on topic and still get everything across. One hand was raised and he said that it was significantly different, but well presented. He commented that the comments by our members did add value. Tim said this is what we do in our meetings. He admitted that sometimes we go off topic, but if it adds value, we let it happen. If it does not, it is stopped and we stay on topic.

Their doctor then spoke and said this is why he wanted a meeting like this so show them why he hoped they could develop into a group like this. He said that this may be hard to beat, but he still had hope. He said that the amount of research we do as a group may not be possible. He then asked our group how many actively do research and 11 raised their hands. Rob said he did not do a lot of research, but did read quite a bit and still sent out emails about different articles and press releases. Brenda commented that she did not because of grandchildren, but that she was happy to be the recipient of information from the rest of us. She felt that what she learned in the meetings and received in emails, kept her loyal to the group. She continued that like had been said before, even missing a meeting, she still was kept in the loop by emails.

Tim said we would be happy to have one meeting with them and have them back again. He was the contact person. He would let them know when, after receiving their schedule. We concluded the meeting then.

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