Our friend and fellow D-blogger Beatriz Dominguez lives near Chicago, where she works as Assistant to the Chair of Medical Laboratory Technology at Oakton Community College. But that’s just her day job. Beatriz grew up in Colombia and witnessed the effects of type 2 diabetes on her father. Beatriz was passionate about diabetes long before she was even diagnosed. Since her diagnosis, Beatriz has become a well-known type 2 blogger, attended the Roche Social Media Summit, and joined the Advisory Board of DSMA.
Beatriz may not be “your type,” but she’s every bit the PWD advocate for all of us. She shares her passionate call for unity with us today:
A Guest Post by Beatriz Dominguez
I grew up knowing my father had type 2 diabetes. I think he was diagnosed when I was about 3 years old. My mom was very careful about everything he ate, and I remember being curious about his medications and the artificial sweeteners he used. For me, the word “dad” came along with the word “diabetes,” and diabetes was normal for me. After all, my father didn’t look sick. He just had to take extra stuff.
When I got older I noticed he had to go to the doctor more often. He had diabetic retinopathy and got laser treatment a few times; he was once told they would have to amputate one of his toes (they eventually didn’t). Thankfully, his crises were just temporary and he had a good team of doctors, so he managed to live a good life. I, however, don’t remember my father ever meeting with a diabetes educator. All the information he got came directly from his endocrinologist and I think he dealt with his condition pretty much on his own, never really talking much about it. I think at some point he felt guilty and saw diabetes as the burden it is. I’m sure it made his life miserable at times.
Trying to find a blood glucose meter for him was an ordeal back then and he actually never had one… and he tried! They were either too expensive at the time, or only available for medical offices. It doesn’t make sense now and I really wish he would’ve had a way to have a better idea of how diabetes was affecting his life. I wish he would’ve had the support I’ve found in the community I belong to. I think I would still have him in my life if he had access to all the things I have access to. But he died… he just died. His heart gave out. We had no idea because his tests never showed anything for concern. Diabetes is a silent killer. I lost my dad to diabetes and that made me do something about it. I wasn’t diagnosed yet.
For two years before my diagnosis I made diabetes MY cause. I participated in fundraisers for the Canadian Diabetes Association, created a web page with information and links, created campaigns, etc. I didn’t want anyone to go through life not knowing what diabetes was and what it could do to a person. I carried (and still carry) that torch for my father. I just didn’t think everything I learned about diabetes would help me and make me more passionate about the condition.
I wasn’t surprised with my diagnosis. All the factors were there: a family history, weight issues, PCOS that was just the tip of a much more complicated endocrine imbalance. So I took it like a champion, followed the endocrinologist’s directions, and when I went to see the CDE, she was surprised I knew so much about the condition. The first weeks were hard trying to work on the whole testing thing and taking metformin that made me sick to my stomach. But I adjusted fairly quickly and so did my body. And then it just became second nature: the testing, the medication, the constant doctor visits. Diabetes is part of who I am.
After my diagnosis, I kept doing my thing, donating money to diabetes foundations, learning, talking about it. Then I didn’t do it for a couple of years because life kind of got in the middle (but that’s a very boring story), until I found out about TuDiabetes.org which I joined without a doubt and I discovered this brand new world of people who knew exactly how I felt and taught me many things I never learned from my doctors or my diabetes educators. I learned how to be a person with diabetes, not just a patient! But then I realized that I didn’t want to be just a spectator, I wanted to be those people who helped me so much.
Little by little, I started participating more and then one day I was sitting in a conference room with a bunch of people who called themselves diabetes advocates. I think that is one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life. I was making a difference and I had found
purpose and passion. I’ve never lacked passion, but this was different because I was going farther than I ever imagined. I am now a proud member of the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#dsma) community and I can’t just picture my life without it.
I was recently honored when I was asked to be part of the DSMA Advisory Board and since the information has been officially released, I want to thank Cherise Shockley for putting her trust in me to be a co-host in the upcoming DSMA Live en Español radio show. I’ve been toying with the idea of diabetes podcast in Spanish for a while, and now I’ve been given the chance to reach out and do what DSMA does best: educate and support. I’m excited to be working with Christina Rodriguez and I know we’re going to do great things for the Hispanic community that is touched by diabetes. We’re finalizing details about the first show and hopefully we’ll have it going on before the end of the
My biggest issue with advocacy is that I used to see a great divide between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. It’s hard for me to talk about my feelings regarding this gap between different types of diabetes. I feel like I have no right to tell type 1′s what I think because I have no idea of what their life is like, but I don’t like to feel dismissed or judged because I’m not using insulin to bolus everything I eat. I used to let it make me get depressed sometimes. I wondered what I was doing in a community where the voices of type 2 were clearly not heard. But instead of letting boil inside, I decided I was going to take the pro-active route and consider myself not a part of the type 2 community, but a part of the diabetes community as a whole. And that has been one of the things I’ve striven to work on for myself and for others.
I want to be the kind of voice that says there is no divide, loud and clear. We may have different types of diabetes, but at the end of the day we all have to deal with the same complications, the same risks, the same frustrations. No one can guarantee that one day I won’t have to use insulin. No diabetes type is easier than the other, and nobody should feel discriminated because of them. We’re in this together and I couldn’t be happier to make part of the diabetes advocacy community. I learn so much from so many people every day, and I’m doing my best to learn everything I can about other types of diabetes. Because there is no way I can do advocacy if I don’t open my mind.
I may advocate more for type 2 because that’s my condition and because I’ve seen and felt how hard it can hit you sometimes. But for me, diabetes advocacy has to be about reaching every single person who is told diabetes is affecting their life.
We hear you, Bea. So glad to have your voice among us!