Diabetes has always had an outsized impact on the limb-loss community. The best data suggest that this disease and its complications cause about half the amputations in the country. That makes Diabetes Awareness Month, which started Monday, worthy of every amputee’s time and attention. Even if you don’t have diabetes, there’s a high likelihood you know and care about another amputee who does have it.
Here are a handful ways you can share your personal diabetes journey (or learn about somebody else’s), adopt healthier habits, and educate yourself and your community about the links between diabetes and limb loss. Lots more information at the American Diabetes Association, https://diabetes.org/bigstepup.
1. Check out some diabetes-friendly cuisine.
Like inclusive fashion (which functions equally well for able-bodied and adaptive users), diabetes-friendly cuisine is healthy and delicious for all diners, regardless of one’s A1C score. In addition to learning some tasty new recipes, you can help dispel the myth that diabetes and good food are incompatible.
If you’re looking for ideas, start with The Happy Diabetic, where Robert Lewis brings a professional chef’s creativity to the table. Another good source of meal ideas is Diabetic Foodie, an affiliate of the Diabetes Strong website. Diabetes Self-Management also regularly features kitchen tips.
2. Step out for the Global Diabetes Walk.
Sponsored by the World Diabetes Foundation, this isn’t a single event but rather a rolling, grassroots campaign that goes on all month long. It’s totally DIY: no banners, bibs, or publicity are required. You choose the date(s) and distance, location, participants, and everything else. Something as simple as taking a few laps around the mall qualifies for the Global Walk; same goes for a three-day backcountry hike.
Whatever you do and however you do it, the key step is to register your walk. When you do, you can note that you’re walking to raise awareness about the combined challenges of diabetes and limb loss. Get more information from the World Diabetes Foundation, and check out who’s walking (and where) at the Global Diabetes Walk Facebook page.
3. Attend an event, virtually or in person.
The American Diabetes Association is hosting accessible online gatherings all month on multiple platforms. You’ll have opportunities to learn about and discuss diabetes with medical pros, authors, researchers, activists, lifestyle hackers, and others in the community. The ADA has a nifty searchable calendar that not only includes its own events, but also lets you search by zip code to find local happenings in your own area.
The high point of Diabetes Awareness Month comes on November 14, which is World Diabetes Day. The International Diabetes Foundation has an interactive global map that includes dozens events taking place on all six continents.
4. Post a blue-circle selfie.
The IDF has developed a handy app that superimposes a blue circle—the international symbol for diabetes—onto your smartphone photo. The main goal is to raise awareness of the circle itself, which is not nearly as well recognized as other health icons (e.g., a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness) despite the vast size of the diabetes community.
Extra credit if you include your prosthesis in the photo, to reinforce the diabetes-limb-loss nexus. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a Flickr gallery with more than 150 pages’ worth of b-c selfies.
5. Take the 30 Day Challenge.
This sounds like a hard-core diet or exercise regimen, but it’s not that kind of a challenge. The goal here is to spend all 30 days of November sharing parts of your diabetes journey, to help other people understand the adaptations you’ve made. You start with your diagnosis story on Day 1, and over the course of the month you address subjects like your favorite low-carb snack, favorite celebrity with diabetes, favorite treat when you’re hypoglycemic, and such like. If limb loss is part of your experience, there are multiple opportunities to weave that in. We’ve seen the challenge posted at various places around social media; first spotted at Type1Toucan.