Monday, July 17, 2017

Don't Target Me Because I Am Chronically Ill: MLM Madness

Ok, so here we go. I've been thinking about writing a post on this subject for a while but for fear of starting a debate, I've put it off. But, I've had enough... I have had enough of being targeted my MLM consultants because I am chronically ill. 

Those of you who don't know, an MLM is a multi-level marketing company (like Avon, Origami Owl, Thirty-One, It Works etc). People can become consultants, designers, whatever they call it, for these companies and sell their product. These people can eventually work their way up the line and increase their pay based upon how much product they sell and how many people sign on to sell under them. One of the many ways MLM consultants market their product is via social media. MLMs are GREAT ways for adults looking to increase their income, stay at home moms, college students, and retirees to make a steady income.  I was once an MLM seller, I sold Origami Owl (O2), so I know this from both sides. I LOVED selling O2 and I also loved the extra income I got from it. I say all of this to say, I have nothing wrong with MLMs and what their goal is. Here is where I have a problem... 

As you probably know, I live with Type One Diabetes, an autoimmune condition that is EXHAUSTING and has NO CURE. I'll say that again, it has NO CURE. That being said, here is an example of a message I received from someone who I do not even know. 

"Hi Ashlyn! I saw a friend share a post about your diabetes and wanted to share something with you that could help you come off of medication. I sell (insert product name here) and it has proven to help people better manage their diabetes, lower their blood glucose levels, and come off of medications. Let me know if you would like to give this a try." 

Here is where my blood begins to boil. As I said before, Type One Diabetes has NO cure. I am insulin dependent, for life, end of story. No special pill, special drink, or essential oils will give me the ability to come off of insulin. So, when I receive messages offering a "cure", I have a hard time being kind in my response. Usually I try my hardest to kindly educate the person on T1D, tell them that currently I am doing well and managing well, and I always say that I will research whatever it is that they sell to see if it will be of any benefit to me. I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they just don't understand that my type of diabetes cannot be reversed and that insulin is really the only treatment. But, here is where they step over the line.... 

The person quoted above decided to argue with me about diabetes and how it can be managed with their product. I received messages almost daily until I finally had to block this person. There are others who have accepted that their product wasn't a cure, but still insisted that it would help me.... they are assuming I need help managing my diabetes, yet they haven't spent a second in my shoes and when I tell them I am managing just fine, they continue to insist that I "need" their help. 

The messages offering a cure are what make me most angry. I have many, many well meaning friends who message me to tell me about the product they sell, let me know it may help diabetes, and leave it at that. When I tell them I will research it and tell them I am doing well on my current treatment protocol, they wish me well, don't argue, and still love me the same, even if I don't buy their product. To those friends, thank you. Thank you for understanding and respecting my choices and thank you for taking the time to let me educate you on what T1D really is. 

Here is what it boils down to, I am not a walking diabetes disaster. I do not have a sign on me that says "Help me with my diabetes", and I do not appreciate being a target. I get messages at least twice a week from people selling a number of different products all because they know I'm diabetic. I feel like I've got a big target on my back and that people think I'll be an easy person to make money off of. 

I have to end by saying, I appreciate what all of you MLM consultants do. You're selling a product that has helped you and that you believe in to help have better income for yourself and your families. Many of you (and you know who you are), mean well when you contact me. You are genuinely concerned and want to offer help to me and if I'm not interested, you don't mind... and to those people, I say thank you. Just keep one thing in mind, if someone says they aren't interested. That means they aren't interested today and probably won't be tomorrow, next week, or next month either. Don't harass someone who isn't interested. Those of us living with diseases like T1D have enough stress as it is. I poke my fingers 10 times a day, dose insulin 6-8 times per day, count every carb I eat, and lose a lot of sleep... that alone is enough stress. We fight hard every day to keep ourselves alive. 

Keep selling whatever it is that you sell, keep providing for your families, and even keep posting your stories and testimonies on Facebook... just be sensitive when it comes to those of us who live with chronic illness. We don't mind your concern but we do mind your daily, never ending persistence to get us to "buy in". Trust me, the day there really is a cure, I'll be buying into it. 



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

CWD FFL 2017: The Week I Love Diabetes

One week out of the year, I LOVE diabetes. This sounds crazy, right? Who could ever love diabetes? Well, anyone who has ever attended the Children With Diabetes Friends for Life international conference will tell you that it is the one week out of the year that a sense of normalcy exists for those of us living with T1D. Last week I attended my second conference and when I tell you it just keeps getting better, I'm not lying. 
July 5- Departure Day!
Everyone has already arrived and registered, I just had to show up to the party a little bit late. Due to school being my first priority, I was only able to afford to take one day off of class. July 5, after sitting through a lecture, a lab, a practical exam, and a written exam, I was finally on my way to Orlando to join my friends at Coronado Springs. All day, my phone was blowing up with two of my best friends for life, Morgan and Michelle, texting and calling me to get constant updates on my location. We could not WAIT to see each other. I arrived very late and as I was getting out of the car, Morgan came out of no where and attacked me with hugs. We didn't want to let go. We've been speaking via FaceTime for a whole year now, it felt surreal to be able to hug again. I made it just-in-time for the Crystal Bowersox concert and I got to reunite with Michelle and I got to meet Gretchen, who by the end of the week would also become one of my best friends. Morgan was rooming with us, and that first night we didn't get in bed till around 1 am because we couldn't stop talking and laughing. I now had on my green bracelet (for those with Diabetes) and mom had her orange one (for those who love someone with Diabetes) we were ready to tackle the week. 
July 6- Let the sessions begin! 
Today began with a huge breakfast buffet and The Richard Rubin Opening Keynote: Diabetes at 212° by Dr Desmond Schatz. This keynote was amazing, upsetting, thought provoking, and interesting all rolled into one and it got us all pumped up for the next few days ahead. On this day, I attended the Sugar Surfing workshop with Dr Stephan Ponder. This is a session I was very excited about. I have read Dr Ponder's book twice and he has literally been instrumental in keeping me healthy with T1D. I enjoyed listening to Dr Ponder expand on the diabetes management tips outlined in his book and getting to talk with him personally about my journey and how much he has helped me. Mom got to attend sessions about the cost of insulin and advocacy. 
Much of today was also spent exploring the exhibit hall and reuniting with other FFLs from last year like the Fickling family, Logan and Samantha Merwin, the Paul family, the list goes on... And of course with the exhibit hall comes lots of free stuff and lots of time spent at the Pump Peelz stand with my friends Scott and Emily, picking out new swag for my devices. 
Next came the scary part of the trip... retinal screening. As you probably know, eye problems can be a serious complication of diabetes. CWD so generously provides all people with T1D a retinal screening to assess the eyes and how healthy they are. Thankfully, aside from some sun damage, my eyes are perfect. 
The day ended with the banquet, where we got to hear RaeLynn perform, eat amazing food, watch amazing people accept this year's awards, and watch DocuDiabetes III. Here is where my 5 seconds of fame comes in... my video I made for PTA school (about diabetes) was chosen as a top 5 for DocuDiabetes.
July 7- Adulting sessions galore... 
Today's sessions on my agenda were all about being an adult with T1D and entering the world of "adulting". I learned all about insurance and my rights as a person with Type 1 Diabetes. I got to hear one of my fave FFLs Leigh speak and she always teaches me so so much about how to navigate college and the workforce as a person with T1D. I also attended a session about the flaws in the hemoglobin A1C test and though mom and Morgan were utterly bored, the health sciences student in me thought it was super interesting. 
Tonight was all about adults and young adults. I attended the young adults dinner with lots of people my age and we went to the Tandem adults night where they had food, karaoke, drinks, and games. 
July 8- DISNEY DAY! 
Mom, Gretchen, Morgan, and I all decided to go to Animal Kingdom for the day and we had a blast. There is something pretty neat about sitting down on a curb at Disney and all sharing glucose tabs to treat low blood sugar... makes low blood sugar feel a little more "normal". We enjoyed seeing the new World of Pandora too! 
Now came the hard part... goodbyes started. Morgan was leaving at 4 am, so we spent our evening at the Family Night and running around the hotel so she could say her goodbyes. But, as sad as goodbyes are, this was one of my favorite nights. Gretchen came to our room for a couple of hours and we sat on the bed and laughed, cried, and shared stories. It is SO NICE to be able to talk openly about diabetes and it's struggles with people who actually care and "get it". I was not ready to leave this safety net. 
July 9- Farewell FFL 
Today is the day we dread. Saying goodbye. I cried a good bit of the morning hugging all of my people and saying "see ya next year". We all were getting ready to head back home and home for us is all over the country. Ohio, Canada, California, Florida, North Carolina. This part stinks. 
We enjoyed an amazing breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto and we shared some final memories. FFL 2017 was officially over. 

As you can tell by my long winded post, FFL was once again more than I could have ever asked for. Once again, I felt so normal for a week. I was surrounded by green and orange bracelets. Someone always had insulin if needed. Someone always had test strips. Someone always had glucose tabs. Someone always had a shoulder to cry on. And EVERYONE genuinely cared about the battle we are all fighting against this devastating disease. 
Thank you CWD for making this possible. 
My green bracelet is off. My ID badge is hung up. My program book is on the shelf... but the memories are close in my heart and my FFLs are just a FaceTime call away. 
Let the countdown to next year begin. 


Oh and PS- Thanks to my amazing instructors Kelli and Melinda for allowing me to take a day off of school and rearranging your schedules for me to test early so that I could have this amazing experience. I hope you both understand how much last week meant to me after reading this.