Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'll Tell You a Story

There was an incident on Twitter the today that got me thinking about words (again). Specifically, I was thinking about what word I'd choose to describe my role in the Diabetes Online Community, at least as I perceive it.

What happened with this: a Twitter user who's been aggressively trying to make connections within the community was asked by the diabetesalicious Kelly Kunik to explain her repeated statement that she's working to "cure diabetes". (Kelly's account of the story, as part of a moving post, is here.) The resulting exchange - in which other DOC members participated as well - revealed that this person means "manage" rather than "cure", arguing that doctors see "effectively managed" as the same as "cured", and that the low-carb/high protein meal plan she's pushing will produce fabulous management. Part of me wanted to participate, with my opinion that "effective management" and "cure" are miles apart, and that any doctor that really used the terms as synonymous was dangerously out of touch with the patients. But, I didn't participate - partly due to a failure of nerve.

Later in the day, I sent Kelly a tweet of thanks. In that tweet I described myself as a "lousy advocate" for not taking up the cudgels. I regret saying that, though I got a couple of heartening responses. But, my discomfort with describing myself as an "advocate" or an "activist" remains. I don't disparage the role I see developing for me, but I don't think either of those words quite describes it.

I thought for a while, as I did my data entry, about the word I would choose to describe my role, particularly in reference to my blogs. After a while, the word that fits came to me.

I'm a storyteller. I'm proud to be a storyteller: a storyteller can make a tremendous difference.

I'm telling the story of a disease that I didn't ask for any more than anybody else did, and the impact it has on me, and my struggle to respond to it more effectively. I'm not really comfortable providing much information ABOUT diabetes, though I've felt I needed to do so more often than I'd like. I'm a long way from an expert, and health information shouldn't be guesswork.

So, I tell my story. Sure, I describe my thoughts and feelings more often than I do incidents from my life, but my thoughts and feelings are a big part of my story, too.

I hope you find, from time to time, that in telling my story I'm telling part of yours, too. And I hope that just a little more understanding, a little more sense of connection and of community, a little dispersal of isolation, will result.


  1. Great blog post, Bob. Storytelling is incredible monumental and can be life-changing, for those who tell the story and those who read it. Keep up the great work, in whatever way you describe it!

  2. well spoken Bob, I think we are all storytellers and I am also glad that Kelly takes these snake oil salesmen to task

  3. Storyteller. That's a great way to think of yourself. But, don't discount the fact that us storytellers can be great advocates or even teachers. Even if we simply teach what NOT to

  4. What a great, thoughtful post.

  5. You are a tremendous Storyteller, Diabetes Advocate, and friend.
    Thank you for ALL that you do!!!
    Kelly Kunik

  6. Anonymous2:05 PM

    I do find that Bob. :)


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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.