Feeling Helpless? Here’s What You Can Do

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team

Feeling helpless in the midst of COVID-19? You’re not alone. There’s a lot we still don’t know about the virus and the situation is changing by the hour. One important thing to think about is separating what you can do from the things you cannot control. We’ve compiled a list of specific actions you can take to have a real positive impact for yourself, your family, and your community.

People with diabetes may be at higher risk should they contract COVID-19, so please take all of the personal precautions you need to at this time. Not everyone’s risk is the same, so be mindful of yourself and others. Take what works for you from this list and leave the rest.

Take Basic Precautions

Wash your hands often for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Practice social distancing, limiting travel, working from home, and rethink big events – these precautions are not solely for you but for those around you who may be susceptible.

Stay up-to-date with your local health department about COVID-19 in your area.

Connect With Family

Stay in touch with friends and family virtually. Up the frequency that you communicate, and be clear about how you’d like to stay in touch. FaceTime or video chatting can be an awesome tool to feel close to those who are far away – without adding any risk for you or your loved one. Other ideas for staying in touch: start a family or friend group text, find games you can play together remotely, or set a regularly scheduled phone call.

Talk to the children in your life about what’s going on. Tell them we’re washing our hands and keeping to ourselves to protect ourselves and others to help them understand that this is about all of us, not just one of us. Ask if they have any questions and explain as best you can. For older kids and adolescents, asking “what are your friends saying about the coronavirus?” might be a good jumping-off point for starting a conversation to help clear up any misinformation.

Make a list of projects for children to help you with around the house, and teach them how to cook with your extra time at home – you’d be amazed at what they want to help with and how good they will feel knowing they are contributing.

Reach out to People Who Are Most Vulnerable

Think about the people you know, and be mindful of how the current situation might be impacting their specific circumstances. Elderly neighbors, grandparents, older relatives, friends with health conditions, anyone going through chemotherapy or the many, many, other circumstances that might contribute to the current level of anxiety. Reach out and ask how they are. Offer to listen or lend a hand — helping with simple tasks like grocery shopping and limiting the time they spend in public could make a huge difference. If you’re limiting your time in public, too, even just lending an ear at this time can help keep anxiety and loneliness at bay.

Don’t tolerate or perpetuate racism, particularly towards those of Asian or Chinese descent. Referring to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan” or “Chinese” virus may perpetuate racism and xenophobia. If you hear or read others referring to COVID-19 using those terms, please correct them. The importance and impact of being kind to one another cannot be overlooked.

Support Your Local Community

Follow local public health departments and support local news. Journalists everywhere are working hard to keep the public informed about this rapidly-evolving situation. Now is a great time to purchase a subscription to your local news source if it is in your budget. Please also think about the sources of information you read, and try to verify their trustworthiness before you repeat it – the CDC and WHO are good for receiving global updates you can trust.

Donate to your local food bank (find one here). Donating money might be more helpful than donating goods, as food banks often get their items at wholesale cost (in many cases, a $1 donation is equivalent to 5 meals). If you’re well, experiencing no symptoms, and have low risk, ask what volunteer opportunities are available to assist with food distribution.

Support local businesses. If you are fortunate to have uninterrupted income during this time (i.e. can do their jobs from home) and have it to spare, consider transitioning purchases from chains to local businesses, buying groceries from local stores rather than large online retailers.

Consider purchasing gift cards now for use later at a gift store, book store, or local restaurant. Call and ask what they need, or if they’ll accept the transaction over the phone. Ask if they deliver or ship.

If you’re out and about, tip your waiters and waitresses, Uber and taxi drivers, stylists, barbers, and other service industry workers as generously as you can afford. 

Offer support in other creative ways, like buying yourself or others a gift card online to use later, and shopping local businesses online if they have the capability. Reach out and ask what support these businesses need that you might be able to offer (i.e. even just sharing online about what they do).

Support the Diabetes Community

Help drive research + innovation. Sign up for the T1D Exchange Registry, a research study that pulls from your personal experiences and data to help accelerate the development of new treatments. Previous T1D Exchange research efforts have led to things like insurance coverage for test strips and changes in guidelines for A1C goals – your input has the power to make a difference.

Donate your data + impact others. Join the Tidepool Big Data Donation Project, helping further the reach of our collective knowledge about diabetes. Your data gets anonymized and Tidepool will also give back 10% of proceeds to the nonprofit organization(s) of your choice.

Share your voice. Talk to your network about the importance of social distancing and other steps you’re taking to minimize contact and stop the spread of this virus.

Connect with the Beyond Type 1 Community. Download the the Beyond Type 1 App and chat with others living with diabetes. We need connection with others now more than ever.

If You’re Facing Challenges Around Work + Income

If your work hours were cut, file an unemployment claim.

Contact your creditors, electric, phone, and cable companies to see if any accommodations or payment arrangements can be made to make up for lost hours or pay shortages at work.

Worried about homelessness or evictions? Reach out to organizations dedicated to fighting homelessness and their plans to deal with the pandemic. Also, stay informed on if your city’s policies on halting evictions due to COVID-19.

What You Can Do to Support Mental Health

Look into telehealth options for mental and physical care. Check your insurance to see if there is a telehealth service offered, contact your doctor to find out if they have an option for remote visits, or check out services like DoctorOnDemandBetterHelp, or TalkSpace.

Find a new daily routine. Keep getting up early, making coffee, eating breakfast, getting ready for the day and choosing a space to work. Going about your day to day as regularly as you can will only do you and your family good.

Volunteer with animals. Dogs and cats appear to not be susceptible to the virus*, so if you are able to walk dogs at your local shelter or visit the cats, consider it. Animals can help reduce stress, and you might even end up with a new friend to take home.

*the virus may be able to survive on the animal if it has been touched by an infected individual, so know the risks here 

Volunteer your time remotely to help others experiencing distress. You can take the training to become a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line from home, and work to support those in crisis.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

My Dos and Don’ts for People Without Diabetes

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Erika Szumel

Managing type 1 diabetes (T1D) means insulin calculations, getting plenty of exercise, and making strategic meal plans. But it also means awkward moments, unnecessary advice, and lots of looks from people who don’t live with diabetes.

While we might be well-equipped to take care of our disease, we aren’t always ready for these awkward moments with strangers, friends, and family who might not understand what we live with.

Here are the dos and don’ts of diabetes etiquette for those without diabetes, written by a T1D.

Do Ask Questions.

If you’re speaking to someone with type 1 diabetes, ask questions about the condition. I believe that 9 times out of 10, when the question is asked kindly, that the T1D will be happy to answer you. At the end of the day, we’d rather you understand better than continue to walk around with misconceptions.

Don’t Ask Loaded Questions.

Is it the bad type?
So you just have to watch your diet, right?
Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?

When people with T1D hear questions like this, it can be enlightening and frustrating at the same time. Enlightening because I am surprised to hear people still make these assumptions or have these ideas. Frustrating because these people still make these assumptions or have these ideas. Try phrasing a question like, “Can I ask you something so I understand type 1 more clearly?” or “Do you mind telling me more about it?”

Do Be Supportive.

What does being supportive really mean to you? For someone with type 1 Diabetes, it’s nice to know that others sort of understand what’s going on and that they are willing to help if needed. This could simply mean checking in on your friend or helping them find a snack when they are low. Showing your support displays itself in various ways.

Don’t Tell Us Horror Stories About Your Relatives.

The general public tends to have the idea that telling someone with T1D about your grandfather who lost his foot because of diabetes is, I don’t know, helpful? Most patients diagnosed with T1D are aware of the possibility of complications and their effects on the body caused by T1D. Please do not feel like it is your duty to remind us of the things that can happen to us (or may have already started) when you don’t know! Bring this into the conversation if the person with T1D has started talking about it or asks you a question.

Do Help Us Be Prepared for Lows.

Whether you’re a spouse, friend, or coworker, helping us be prepared for lows is such a kind gesture. That simply means knowing where snacks or low treatments are in the home or office and helping us get them when we need them.

Don’t Shrug Us off Simply Because What’s Happening Is Invisible.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can have some serious consequences. The scary part: it’s mostly invisible. Other than my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and their respective sites, you cannot tell that people with T1D are any different than you – with the exception of seeing us test our blood sugar or give a manual injection with a syringe or insulin pen.

I think one of the worst feelings I encounter having this condition is feeling like it means nothing to those around me – and this is usually solely because of ignorance or lack of understanding. Please don’t shrug it off as the “take insulin, watch what you eat” disease, because it is so much more complex. Be mindful of those with T1D, and be willing to offer a helping hand if they need something.

Do Help Us Stop the Stigma.

If you’ve been around a T1D for some time and have learned enough about it, then help us stop the stigma. When you hear comments or jokes about it, do your best to raise awareness for what is true about this condition.

Don’t Ignore the Jokes.

I think a huge part of raising awareness for type 1 diabetes is simply stopping jokes and memes dead in their tracks. I think people will remember when you stop them in that moment and say “Hey, that actually isn’t how it works” or “It’s actually a lot more serious than that.”

At the end of the day, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do as a good friend, partner, or stranger to the millions of people affected worldwide by type 1 diabetes. Hopefully, this list will help you do just that.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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