Ask is a simple word. Still it has incredible implications. I joined TUdiabetes with two hopes. My first was that I could learn something (In progress) and the second and more important was that I might helpful I could share what I have learned (also in progress). Here is the deal I am learning more than giving, but interestingly enough the more I learn the better I am at giving.
So what does it mean to ask for help? I see people, many in such dire situations asking questions here. A few days ago I encountered a dad who was so worried about his child and their recent diagnosis that they were literally panicked. Worse still it was 9:00 PM and he had run out of people to talk too at that time of night. I inquired, as I almost do, who he or his family knew that were diabetic. He said no one. So he lands on TUDiabetes and he asks me the questions he must have asked folks all day long, with varying answers. How do I tell him he won’t be able to do this or that? What is a pump? Who will he play with? What is an insulin low? What is this honeymoon and how do I make sure he gets in that category? Implied in all those questions was what will my child and our families life be like from now on? It reminded me other situations I have encountered on and off TUD for years. The difference, he was in a different country and I was in my recliner in Indiana. It was a true TUDiabetes moment for both of us.
One thing I try to remember is what it takes to ask a question. Imagine if you will (this will not be difficult for most of us) how difficult it is to ask a question of a stranger. Someone or in the case of discussions those somones we do not know, and may never hear from again. Our society (I am speaking of America) has corrupted questions. We tell ourselves we are self-made, and therefore to ask a question is generally thought to be a sign of weakness. Of course this is not true, we learn by asking and we gain confidence by asking and grow when we get answers. Yet it is not something we do often enough and certainly not with enough vigor to let people know we are stumped. I find TUDiabetes wonderful because, when people ask questions here, they have enough anonymity to ask with gusto and heart. Frankly when we do that we get our answers also with gusto and heart and that is refreshing. I really do not know where a group of people are so kind that such a transaction of ideas can happen in a comfortable environment.
Ask is such a powerfully personally act, that is often confined to specialized environments. We might ask a stranger things we would never ask a friend. We might even ask a stranger that one nagging question that we left the doctor’s office wondering about but were too afraid, or to forgetful to ask at the time, and when we do that we are engaging in powerful communication. Even though the question is a one way experience, the answer makes it a two way interaction.
This brings me to the issue of chat. Chat is a feature added to TUDiabetes in the last few years and it is located at the bottom of main page or on a separate page under the topic heading Chat. We have some regulars in Chat. I am one of those regulars and I have seen the transformative power of the interactions. First rule of chat is that if someone asks a diabetic question we clear the decks for an answer. By that I mean if a new diabetic comes in and asks about a diabetic question they immediately get everyone’s full attention. The regulars are there merely to answer questions that might come up about diabetes. If you want to see the decks clear, ask a diabetic question and you might get three or for answers, but the room gets laser focused until the questioner feels their question has been answered.
Second of course, the deck clears when a diabetic asks a health question. That is when the participants go into problem solving mode. (Really aren’t all health questions asked by a diabetic related to diabetes?) But the deck clears even faster when a scared newly diagnosed person or more likely a person with a newly diagnosed child enters the room and asks a question. The feedback is immediate. No waiting for an answer. Follow ups are instantaneous, points of view are surrendered to immediate answers by those best able to answer or give direction to a best answer elsewhere in TUDiabetes step up.
Oh and yeah, most of us who frequent chat subscribe to the notions that if it is not fun why do it? That may sound a bit self-serving but the truth is chat is also for having a good time in a safe environment. We police the environment, no flaming, no vile language, the room remains G or PG at all times. Still, during down times it is a fun place to be. Chat is a place where intelligent dialog beats out inappropriate discussion. In short chat is a place for thoughtful caring answers and a place for fun. Yes diabetics do have fun.
So I ask if you have not tried chat out to stop by and ask a good question or have a good laugh. I promise if you do you will notice three things. 1. Knowledgeable people, 2. Kind people and 3. People who can laugh at themselves. In short we field lots of immediate questions and yes we poke a little fun at ourselves. I mean where else can I tell folks about the two ladies who warned each other that insulin is addictive? And that I responded to them yes it is and I got it bad. But I am hoping to someday kick the habit. Who knows, maybe that story gave courage to another chat participant to one day try that snappy answer. Or of course, folks might learn from my flawed response. Either way is fine.