Episode 01: My ‘Why’, with Pam Durant
Hello and welcome to Dia-Logue: The Diapoint Podcast. I am so excited to be here with you to finally launch this podcast!
I am Pam Durant, the Founder & Managing Director of DiapointME, the place for people touched by diabetes.
I left a long – and what some people might describe as a successful – corporate healthcare management career in 2016 to start Diapoint, the place for people touched by diabetes.
My son was diagnosed with Type1 Diabetes at 20 months old almost 12 years ago. Ironically, this podcast launch is just a few days away from his Diaversary date this month.
We had no family history of Type1, and I think even if you do have diabetes in your family, it doesn’t matter. This diagnosis is shocking and upsetting. And it is a really hard condition to manage. There is no learning curve. There is only a vertical line that goes straight up. You are thrown into this pool of emotions and overwhelm, and you have to learn everything that you need to do immediately. Diabetes waits for no one, and all types of diabetes are hard.
To the people who ask “oh is that the bad kind?” that my son has, I never quite know how to respond because none of them are good.
Before we continue, I want to take a technical moment to define the three main types of diabetes that we will discuss. When I refer to diabetes, it may be general, or it may be one of the following.
Type 1 diabetes, which my son has, was commonly known as juvenile diabetes. But more adults are being diagnosed with it. In Type 1, the pancreas produces no insulin at all. For reasons that are still not clear, the body attacks the pancreas and destroys the insulin producing cells. There is no cure.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 means that your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or use it properly. Some people may be able to control their blood sugar by eating well and exercising, but that is not the case for everyone.
Gestational diabetes happens when a woman is pregnant. It usually disappears after giving birth. If not managed it can harm both the mom and baby.
And I should give a shout out to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows sugar (glucose) to enter our body’s cells to produce energy. Insulin as a medication was created 100 years ago this year. For anyone living with diabetes, or who loves someone with diabetes we have so much gratitude for that invention.
All of these are so much more than just these brief definitions. They all have some things in common, and there are some things that are specific to each one. Regardless of the type, they are all highly misunderstood by the general public and not easy to manage.
About a month into this I found myself sobbing on my bathroom floor. After I got all of the guilt and grief out of my system, I picked myself up off the bathroom carpet and decided that from that day forward we would live with this.
I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I made the conscious decision that my son would not suffer, be left out, or never feel like he was different because of diabetes. And so it began.
By the time I left the corporate world to start Diapoint, it was long overdue. I was at that place where it had to be done. The work I was doing before did not, and would not matter as much as this.
And it wasn’t even about doing work that matters because I guess a corporate would say all work matters. But this is more than that. It’s really about leaving the world a little better than we left it. It’s about being the change we want to see in the world as Ghandi is so often quoted on.
My initial motivation to start Diapoint wasn’t even about changing the world. It all started as a blog back in I think it was 2012 or so – It was an attempt to brain dump as much information as possible so that any parent with a newly diagnosed child would have more information than I had to start with. I learned a lot on my own, but I also struggled a lot. There was very little information on the internet about diabetes back then, and even less in the Middle East where I live.
A diagnosis is terrifying, and no one should have to do it alone. I was alone with it for many years. There were no support groups or even doctors near me who understood it. It took us 3 years to find a pediatric endocrinologist. I’m happy to say that a lot has changed since then, and we have some amazing pediatric endocrinologists, but people with diabetes need more than just great doctors and there is still a lot to do.
As I struggled on our journey, somewhere on the way I figured out that once you accept diabetes as a part of your life and manage it, it makes you almost hyper-aware of the importance of your health, and it somehow gets a little bit easier. A lot of the things that we do to manage diabetes are things that everyone should be doing. Diabetes is so much about taking care of yourself – your physical health, your mental health and not just eating a certain way or taking insulin. After meeting and interviewing so many people who are thriving with diabetes, I can say that the one thing they have in common is that they have embraced it and they use it to reach new levels of health and wellness.
This also goes for those of us who are caring for someone with diabetes. I so often see people hate diabetes – which is a fair emotion to have. No one wants to have diabetes. However, we must accept it and to some extent embrace it. If we don’t, then we are not accepting all of that person as they are.
As a certified health and lifestyle medicine coach, this combination of medical science and health and wellness really fascinates me. All the science and technology are great, but if we are not taking care of ourselves while optimizing, then we will have really poor health regardless of if we have diabetes or not. I truly believe that life is about finding this personal balance with all aspects of our health.
This is one of the many reasons why we will discuss health and wellness topics in this podcast in addition to diabetes.
And while I said it becomes easier, that doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I definitely do not. Daily I am faced with the challenges of managing my son’s diabetes. Now that my son is older, some things got easier, but each age presents different challenges and considerations. Even if I were not managing diabetes in a child, we would be faced with various health challenges and considerations on the way. I also struggle because I cannot turn off the mom in me, and I cannot turn off the healthcare manager in me who wants to see healthcare and diabetes management become easier for everyone.
And of course, you might be asking, “What about a cure?” I would prefer to leave a world where diabetes is eradicated, but I’m not so sure if that will happen in my lifetime or his. I really hope it does though. I would love for nothing more than for my son to never have to think about this again.
Especially now that we live in a COVID world, I feel like all research efforts are going there – and not that I am saying that is a bad thing – but I feel like a lot of other research and discoveries will be delayed because of this. So until then, I’d like to see the world as a place where diabetes is normalized.
By normalized I mean a place where diabetes is accepted. Imagine a world that when you go to the internet and google diabetes you do not get images of amputation or links about health complications, but the top search items are positive images instead of negative ones. Ya, I know it has a lot to do with SEO, but even before online marketing this was the case, and in many ways it still is. Of course, if not managed well there can be complications, but there doesn’t have to be. I want to see people thrive with diabetes. I want the general public, healthcare practitioners, insurance companies and others to understand what diabetes really means.
For more than a decade, I’ve been searching. Searching for answers. Searching for support. Searching for the best way to live with this thing we call diabetes.
I never knew I would start a company and be in the place I am now with a podcast talking about this. But, I knew I had to somehow be part of the “solution”.
So Diabetes.. What does that really mean?
After thinking about it for some time.. it’s the approach. It’s not about shaming or blaming people for their condition. It’s not about the latest fad diet, or other developments. And diabetes means a lot of different things to different people.
I’m here to talk about different topics related to diabetes, and find and share examples of what it means to thrive with diabetes. I also wanted to start this podcast because ever since my son was diagnosed with diabetes, I learn something new almost every day. Whether that is about physical or mental health, or some other area of wellness, or diabetes. I have learned a lot – and still continue to do so. I thought, what better way to do this than to share it through a podcast where we talk about all of these topics with various experts on the subject.
We are going to focus on health, wellness and diabetes. Some people might be doing it in different ways. We need more discussion about how to do that and what that means for each individual.
Here at Dia-logue, The Diabetes Podcast, we will talk about the challenges of health and diabetes, and how you can manage those situations in a positive way. My hope is that this podcast will share information, leave you thoughtful and also inspired by our guests.
Show Notes and Links
Disclaimer: It should go without saying that the Diapoint podcast is not intended as or should not be used as personal medical advice. You will hear us interview medical experts and others, but please always always ask your qualified doctor, diabetes team or other expert about your health. What works for one person does not always work for another person. What you should always do when you discover any new health information is ask YOUR doctor about it. This information should empower you to have a discussion with your healthcare providers about it. Diapoint, our guests, sponsors and business partners are not here to replace that advice. Living a full, healthy life means taking the proper medical advice from your qualified physicians, diabetes team or other healthcare providers.
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