How can the value of a site like Tudiabetes.com be quantified? Is it's value based on the number of members or page hits? How about daily posts or advertising revenue? Cool features, maybe? No, I think the best way to quantify the value of Tudiabetes.com is through a personal story, one that probably reflects the experience of many people.
I lived in a small rural town when I was diagnosed T1 in 1976. I don't think the family GP had ever even seen a T1, but fortunately he recognized the symptoms enough to send me to a specialists in Seattle (about 3 hours away). I spent 2 weeks with my Mother in Seattle getting educated in Diabetes and set-up on a regime of insulin, urine tests, and carefully measured quantities of food. Then I was sent home, with scheduled quarterly check-ups back in Seattle.
As a 15 year-old, this was completely foreign to me, but I quickly adjusted. I knew that I only had 1 body and abusing it (by skipping insulin or engorging in sugar) simply wasn't an option. But I was completely alone in the world of Diabetes. There were no support groups in town, no on-line forums where I could interact with other T1's, no books that explained things at my level of understanding, and as far as I knew not even another T1 (of any age, let alone a peer) within 100 miles. Yes, Diabetes was a life demon that I had to face alone.
None of my friends really understood or could relate to my situation. They knew I couldn't drink sugared soda or candy (except for certain times, which they never quite understood), but that was about it. I spent my high school years watching others enjoy the freedom of eating and drinking whatever they wanted, while I repeatedly had to decline offers of tantalizing treats.
Don't get me wrong, life has always been enjoyable to me, but being a T1 without any contact with other T1's can be a major bummer.
In my first 10 - 12 years as a T1, I'd occasionally be told that so and so knew someone who also had Diabetes. But I suspect many of those "so and so's" were Type-2's. I never had any interaction with them anyways, so it doesn't really matter. The first other T1 I met (other than the strangers I spent 2 weeks with at my initial Diabetes training) was in my late 20's. She and her husband were casual friends of my wife and I, but nonetheless I actually knew another T1 and she was close to my age. We never had any significant conversations about Diabetes (I suspect because neither of us ever had), but just knowing each other was beneficial. Then I found out a co-workers teen-aged son had T1 and I was able to talk with my co-worker on several occasions about the disease. I think it helped us both.
Over the years, I've visited a couple local support group meeting for Diabetics, but in the smaller towns where I've resided they've always consisted of just a couple much older people with T2 and very different concerns than I had.
As a techy, I've used the Internet for years as a research tool and system for business/personal communications. But using it as a resource for my Diabetes is only a recent discovery. Last year I discovered an on-line Diabetes group (which shall remain nameless, so as not to compete with Tudiabetes.com) where I could ask questions of other Diabetics. Through that group I became convinced to get an Insulin pump and learned all the cool tricks that no CDE or Endo could possibly teach. Through another group I became convinced to get a CGMS and learned the tricks of that too. Not only is my control significantly better than it was a few years ago, but I now feel like I know and have direct access to numerous other Diabetics. These Diabetics may live more than 100 miles away, but they are only a few seconds away in reality.
Somewhere along the way of asking and answering questions related to Diabetes on the Internet, I discovered that Diabetes doesn't have to be a demon we fight alone. It's now a shared battle. As Solomon once wrote:
"Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
How valuable is Tudiabetes.com (and other similar forums)? It's priceless. Thanks Manny.