For some reason, as I type this, I have the lyrics of the song “Meet Virginia” by Train in my head. It tells the story of a not so extraordinary out of the ordinary woman, doing things her own way. Well, I want you all to meet Lidia, a fantastic woman I had the most wonderful pleasure to meet when attending a recent conference for people with diabetes in Las Vegas.
Lidia came to us as a surprise. She never heard about the Diabetes Online Community before, and she was completely unknown to any of the people attending the conference. She was introduced to us by Bennett Dunlap, and we learned that Lidia was there thanks to her doctor who told her about the event. Lidia was the only person among her peers who was brave enough to join us.
Lidia comes from Guatemala, and she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 16 years ago. When she was asked to tell her story, she stood in the middle of the room, and with a very heavy Spanish accent that made me absolutely happy, she told us why she was there and the things she was doing to take care of her diabetes. Jaws dropped, eyes got teary, and we were humbled.
I am talking about a woman who hasn’t been active in the patient community, other than with the people she sees at the center where she receives treatment. Peer support is not something she was familiar with, but that hasn’t kept her for doing the best she can. When she apologized for her broken English, I told her I thought it was awesome she was there, and that she should be proud.
Lidia is a no-nonsense patient who knows that her life is not going to get disrupted because of her condition; she simply won’t allow it… diabetes will not get her down. Lidia has taken advantage of every single resource she has been offered, she is a funny, warm, nice woman who is now retired and goes to every single diabetes education in the agenda while helping others in every way she can. She knows how to cook, where to shop, and how to be active. She does yoga and tai-chi every week, and reminds people to always shop from the store periphery where the healthy food is. She is the epitome of an empowered diabetes patient.
Lidia’s life hasn’t been easy, but that’s not my story to tell. What I can write about is how inspiring she is, how she is one of the most empowered people with diabetes I’ve met, and how proud it personally made me to learn that she is a Latina who has grabbed the bull by the horns despite the many myths there are about how poorly Latinos manage their diabetes.
Lidia humbled us, and I personally want to thank her, if she’s reading this, because she changed my life.