A couple of people have asked me about how to go about setting up a diabetes support group "offline", as in face to face meetings. So I thought I would share the journey of the Clare Diabetes Support Groups and how we have survived;-) My journey with the Clare Diabetes Support group began when my husband collected me from my clinic appointment in Ennis, June 2008. As soon as I sat into the car, the tears just streamed down my face.
During the clinic visit, I was weighed in a Digital Chair Weighing Scales, used in nursing homes, retirement homes and rehabilitation centres, it was humiliating! My doctor didn't even look at my blood glucose diary but yet increased my background insulin based on the fasting blood glucose in my lab results (from the blood sample given for HbA1c test). Best of all, both he and the nurse suggested that exercise would help me lose my baby weight, not sensitive to the fact that running around after two toddlers wasn't exercise. The doctor even told me to buy a double buggy so I could get exercise get walking!!!
I had been struggling to find decent diabetes healthcare for 18 months at this point and I didn't know what my other options were and I wasn't going to let myself have another awful experience like the one I just had.
I was desperate to find other people with type 1 diabetes to find out where they all went for their health care, where they learned the most and where there was "care" in the health care.
As soon as I got home I went digging for an article I had kept from the local paper about a diabetes information evening. I found it and rang the number straight away. The lady who answered was just like me!
This is where the Clare Type 1 Support group started.
Within a couple of weeks, we had hatched a plan to bring together local people with diabetes and ask them if that's what they wanted too.
In 2008, the Type 1 group began meeting in the foyer of a local hotel, every month. Some months it was just me and one other person but most months we had 3 or 4 people and always something to share.
In recent years, we found that a monthly meeting was too frequent and now we meet every second month from September to June.
By mid 2015, we had grown in numbers too big to congregate in a hotel lobby so we had to hire a meeting room. We were affiliated with Diabetes Ireland and are funded by the Clare branch.
Thankfully, the Clare branch has also grown in those years and had become sucessful enough at fundraising to cover the cost of private meeting rooms.
Occasionally, we invite guest speakers from the medical community or successful people living with diabetes. In recent years, we have invited IRFU, Rugby World Cup referee and person with diabetes, George Clancy and Neil Pakey, CEO of Shannon Airport/Shannon Group. From the healthcare community, our guest speakers have included dietitians, diabetes nurse specialists, GP’s with a special interest in diabetes, counsellors and podiatrists.
I struggle so much trying to talk about diabetes with people who don't have it. I find trying to explain terms like "insulin to carb ratios", why that blood glucose number is good because it's just after a meal, why if I'm already treating my hypo there is NO REASON TO PANIC!, why I don't snack or nibble (cos it's not worth the effort of calculating and bolusing!). So to not have to explain every little detail of diabetes and just focus on the important stuff is just so relaxing and so much less work.
We continue to support and inform each other and we always try to make sure that as many people with diabetes as possible know that we are there should they need us.
Find Your Support.
If you are interested in finding a support group in your area, we have added a list of the groups that we know of to our website here. If you know of a group, that isn't included on the list please let us know and we will add them.