Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Corresponding With The Man In "The Diabetes Man Cave."

A few months ago on the twitter, I saw that someone named @DiabetesManCave had starting following me. 
I dug the name so I checked out the blog, The Diabetes Man Cave that said twitter feed linked to - and found the writing to be honest; straight from the heart, eye opening and a much needed addition to the diabetes blogosphere - And shared the link on twitter, Facebook and the blog

Why is The DMC so important? Because it gives men with diabetes a safe space to share/discuss diabetes complications that only men deal with. Things like, but not limited to; male infertility, erectile disfunction, retrograde ejaculation.
Things that have to be discussed, but that most men with diabetes, (and women with diabetes for that matter,) don't feel comfortable sharing with their spouses; healthcare professionals, and others living with diabetes complications. 

But we have to talk about those complications, so we can help ourselves and others. 

The Diabetes Man Cave is a place where the creator/writer (who goes under the pseudonym, Mr. DGuy,) discusses all of the above with frankness, bravery, and honesty - and encourages others to do the same.  
I was impressed with Mr, DGuy’s bravery and honesty, (as well as his frankness,) and wanted to interview him. 
I found his email address on his blog, sent him some questions. Mr. DGuy responded & gave the OK to share them with you - And that's what I'm doing. 

Kelly: You describe your blog as, " a virtual sanctuary where those of us guys living with diabetes can hopefully find a place to share our stories about what’s getting to us, from the men’s perspective."
Here's the thing - most guys don't talk - and you are, I think that's not only great, it's necessary and very needed, so thank-you so much.

Mr. DGuy: Thanks for these questions, Kelly. And for the support you've shown, and the nice comments there. I really do appreciate that.

Kelly: Speaking of talking, How did you get the courage to create a space where you could write/share what's on your mind re: diabetes issues related to men, specifically issues like ED? 

Mr. DGuy: The need to share this part of my life has been bubbling up for awhile. But I never had the courage to share this side of me with the world, because it's so very personal. Maybe I felt ashamed, embarrassed, guilty. 
Maybe it was a subconscious acceptance of society's need to classify things as taboo, TMI, hearkening back to the days when you just didn't share these things at all outside your own family and home. Whatever the reason, I just didn't do it. But I was searching, waiting, hoping that others might write something on this that I could relate to so I didn't feel so alone.

What changed? Three things happened.

In August 2014, someone stepped up and shared their story. That was Benno Schmidt, and I saw his story on Tom Karlya's blog. That planted a seed of courage and hope.

Then, My Diabetes Secret gave me a voice when I needed it. That site had been around since October 2013 and was born from a blog post Kerri Sparling had written in 2011, giving people a way to share their inner most thoughts (or secrets) but remaining anonymous. After Benno shared his story and made me think "me too," regular life carried on for a bit. 
I broke down in a particularly tough Father's Day moment and in the heat of my depression and tears, I turned to MDS and shared what I was feeling. That felt good, even if it was an overly-depressing note.

But then I realized something: I still felt alone. Hundreds of people may have read that and been nodding in agreement, or no one may have cared. 
I had no idea. And that human need to connect with others like me, that need to experience the "me too" feeling that I'd experienced in diabetes generally, and that Benno had offered me, took hold.

Some friends reminded me over the summer how many in the DOC had taken that bold step a decade ago to put themselves out there. To share their lives with the online world. They reminded me that others have done the same -- on mental health, eating disorders, wearing medical equipment, living with ALS and cancer and so much more. They took the step to start a needed conversation, and that led to others being able to say "me too" and not feel so alone, lost, ashamed.

And so, I decided to blog about it.

Kelly: How do you hope to engage your readers and get them to open up about very personal issues re: diabetes & sex - not to mention other D and non D related man stuff? 

Mr. DGuy: Well, I don't have any magical elixir to make men or anyone else share anything. No idea whether people will or won't open up. All I can do is share my own stories, and invite others to respond to that and share their own experiences or thoughts.

Comments and Twitter are probably the best ways. That's big for me -- I don't like blogs that don't allow people to comment without having their name attached. 
I am not on Facebook and will not put the Diabetes Man Cave on Facebook, because that's just too much. If others want to post links and stuff there relating to the Man Cave, so be it. That would certainly help "spread word," I'm sure, but I worry about anyone sharing their own stories there just because so many real names are attached. It's not really built for being anonymous, that Facebook.

These are such personal issues, I think even if some do open up, many won't want to put their names to what they say. That's fine by me. That's exactly how I am doing it. I think respecting the need for being anonymous sometimes is needed. If someone chooses to reveal their identity, that should be on their own terms. I respect that here, just as I hope others will respect my need to keep my name out of this. Because right now, I am not comfortable going beyond that. Will I ever? Time will tell.

Kelly: Have you found blogging about the subject to be cathartic? 
For example, does blogging about what's going on elevate some of the stress you've been dealing with know that your actually talking/blogging about it?
Have you seen a positive change in your blood sugars, your outlook, etc., since you've started sharing online? 

Mr DGuy: Yes, it does feel good to just express myself. Whether anyone's reading my words or not, figuring out how I feel and writing that down is very cathartic for me.

This also helped me organize my thoughts, expanding beyond the "this sucks and it's the worst thing ever and even worse than the world ending because it's so horrible." It's helped me see patterns and recognize what I might be failing to take action on. What can I talk to my wife and doctor about? In a lot of ways, it's me holding myself accountable. Kind of like how you look at blood sugar logs or CGM data to pinpoint how you're doing.

No, I haven't noticed any specific changes related to my sharing on the Diabetes Man Cave. Sure, my mood is OK a lot of the time, and in the past two months I haven't felt like I'm drowning in this. But that's probably more related to life than anything else. Managing blood sugars and diabetes is its own world of attention-needing headache. But in sharing this side of my life, and seeing how it's all connected to BGs and meds and mood in general, it does give me a good channel to keep tabs on how that D-side may be impacting my "in the bedroom" side.

Kelly: What's your goal regarding "The Diabetes Man Cave?" 
Mr. DGuy: Don't have a particular goal. Aside from just sharing what I need to share, and hope it's useful for anyone who needs it. Again, I felt alone and needed to get that "me too," and so maybe that's how others feel, too. So I hope that happens, if nothing else. 

Kelly: What has the response from the DOC been so far? 
Mr. DGuy: It's been great. Many have offered some very nice comments, and some have even shared their own thoughts and feelings. I think Kerri Sparling at brought a lot of attention this way for a time, and so I have to thank her for that. And I think it's been mentioned in other places, that have been nice. And you, Kelly, for being so supportive. Same goes to so many others. Everyone that I have "met" on Twitter has been nice and supportive so far.

Kelly: What do you hope HCPs (because healthcare professionals absolutely need to read your blog,) will take away from The Diabetes Man Cave? 

Mr. DGuy: That they can give great doctor advice and medical info, but many of us need more than the advice of "Take care of your BGs." There is a whole emotional and psychosocial side, and many of us need to connect with others. Not all of us with diabetes are that way, of course. And many guys probably won't share even if there is a channel or place for them. But still, some will. And I hope doctors will consider sharing that with patients who are experiencing these issues, to at least let them know it exists. From there, whether someone uses that resource or not, it's up to that person.

Kelly: What do you hope others who are dealing with the same/similar issues will take away from your blog? 

Mr. DGuy: You are not alone.

If you are feeling this way or going through these things, there are others too.

If you have a man in your life, maybe he is feeling some of these things too. And maybe he's not OK about talking about them, even admitting them to himself. Please keep that in mind.

Maybe for guys who are going through these issues, remember that even those who "don't get it" are trying to better understand and help as much as possible. We have to meet them in the middle.

Thanks for being so open and honest Mr. DGuy, and thank you for helping others to do the same~


Richard Vaughn said...

This is a very special blog, Kelly. Thanks so much for doing this interview. I might gather the courage to talk to Mr. DGuy on his blog site.

Colleen said...

Nice interview and we all need to learn more about this.

El Cajon Native said...

At The San Diego Center For The Blind, I once interrupted 3 men talking about the male side of type one diabetes. As a type one woman, I wanted to stay and talk with them,us type ones always being the minority in our groups. Instead, I started to leave because it seemed appropriate. The guys not only made me stay but also continued the conversation about what "The Diabetes Man Cave" covers now. There is such a need for this forum. Thank you Mr. Man Cave!