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In the mid-1970s, I was a bored teenager, convinced there was nothing to do on a Saturday morning in Antrim. But if the recent activity on the Olde Antrim Photos Facebook page is anything to go by, we had the kind of extended childhood we hope for our own children. If the weather was fine, we played rounders and football, and we built forts with great mounds of cut grass on the field between our house and Lough Neagh. We jumped off the roof of the maisonette garages into the barley field and played hide and go seek until we were called in for our dinner.

If we stayed inside because it was raining, which happened frequently – it was Ireland after all – we could read our comics, talk on the phone as long as the shared line was available, or watch Saturday morning television which offered three channels: BBC1, BBC2, and UTV. I think we were able to pick up RTE. I vaguely recall watching The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Joe 90, and The Banana Splits and then something happened. At 9:30 one Saturday morning in 1976, swapshopThe Multi-Colored Swap Shop exploded on our tiny television screens with three hours of unheard-of live TV that featured pop music, cartoons, roving reporters who might show up near where we lived, live call-ins, and even a kid-friendly version of the news. Hosted by a Radio One breakfast program host, Noel Edmonds, who now hosts the UK version of “Deal or No Deal,” the main premise of the show was that children could call in and “make a swap.” Noel would answer on his red rotary dial phone, and the kid on the other end of the line would describe what it was that he wanted to swap and the item he hoped for in exchange, so you had fairly low-tech transactions – a tennis rackets traded for an alarm clock, a doll house for a board game, vinyl records for different vinyl records. The best swaps made it on to the Top Ten Swap Board, and if you were one of the lucky kids who happened to be in the vicinity of Swaporama, you could swap something in person.

Day 15 of The 2013 Health Activist Writers Challenge takes me back to those times when I was tempted to call Noel Edmonds to “make a swap.” Today, however, I am swapping stories with Katie, in a Guest Post Swap Day, to learn more about Type 1 diabetes, while she learns more about breast cancer.


Katie chronicles her thoughts and feelings on living with Type 1 diabetes over at her blog, Diabetic Advocate. Until WEGO Health connected me with Katie, pictured here appropriately enough on St. Patrick’s Day, I have had a very limited knowledge of it. It made me realize just how easy it is to forget that disease and suffering comes in many life-altering forms and that we can never underestimate the power of community.

Guest Post by Katie, Blogger at Diabetic Advocate

Yvonne and I are participating in the HAWCM challenge and have been paired up to swap blogs for the day.  I don’t know if any of you reading this have a personal connection or understanding of Type 1 diabetes.  What I do know is that if you are following Yvonne’s blog you are part of a community of people that gathers for support, love, empathy, information and camaraderie. When thought of in this way, blogs about diabetes and cancer are quite similar.

Living with a chronic illness or a life threatening disease is exhausting, scary, challenging, never-ending, surprising and life altering.  Luckily, for people living with diabetes there is something called the Diabetes Online Community (DOC).  The DOC is a compilation of every person who blogs about diabetes. Discovering this community about a year ago literally changed my life. 

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Thursday, October 26, 1995.  I was 12 years old and looking forward to trick or treating in 5 days (btw – there should be a rule that no one can be diagnosed with diabetes before or on the following holidays: Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas).  Living with diabetes never made me feel incredibly depressed or anxious; however, about 15 years after diagnosis I started experiencing major burnout.  I don’t know what flipped this switch, but suddenly getting through each day was incredibly challenging.  Food had become an enemy, and taking insulin suddenly gave me anxiety.  I felt lost, hopeless, scared and alone. 

Out of desperation, one night I started Googling about Type 1 diabetes and anxiety and by the grace of God I found blogs like Kerrie’s Six Until Me and Texting My Pancreas.  I spent hours that night laughing and crying.  It was the first time in many years since being diagnosed that I felt there were hundreds, no, thousands, of other Type 1 diabetics and they were all going through the same thing as me.

After that night I started reading blogs every day and eventually launched my own.  I learned new tricks, discovered new technologies, and most importantly, received encouragement and support to keep fighting and to not give up.  My health, both physical and mental, is stronger today because of the DOC.

I am just one blog out of thousands, but I am part of a larger community of people who have found health advocacy an incredibly important part of their journey to good health.  I truly believe that no matter what challenges you face in life, there are people out there going through the same thing.  I encourage you to reach out, ask for help and you will discover a whole new family just waiting to welcome you with open arms.

Thank you for taking time to learn a bit about me and about the DOC.  I wish you health and peace on your journey.