Just one step.

I read with great interest this well-written article from Chelcie Rice that was featured over at Insulin Nation recently. Christopher Snider and his sister Jeanette talked about the post and the subject on their podcast, Mark All That Apply. I think both are worthy of attention, and for what it’s worth, both have me thinking about this subject again.

As I mentioned to Chelcie after he linked to his story on Facebook, I think about the lack of diversity every time I attend a diabetes event. It’s not that there is a lack of color at events; often, there is no color at all. Even though we all know that people of color are disproportionately affected by diabetes. It’s something that’s entirely different from the ethnic makeup in every other part of my life.

But hey, I’m an advocate… but wait, I can’t change my ethnicity… so what should I really do if no one shows up who doesn’t look like me? I’m not sure exactly what I should do. But I know what I can do.

I will promise to provide one scholarship to this October’s Diabetes UnConference to a person of color. I will promise to pay for registration to this event in Alexandria, Virginia.

This will only include the price of registration. I’m not rich enough to include travel, so that will not be included. I can’t guarantee much else either. But hopefully, this is something, and hopefully it will get someone to consider applying for the scholarship who up to now has been on the fence about attending a diabetes event.

Why am I doing this? Because I’m altruistic and wonderful? It’s a little more complex than that.

The truth is, every single time I’m at a conference or research summit, I notice the lack of diversity in the room, and I think about it. This past Friday’s Outcomes Beyond A1c meeting (more on that later in the week) was an exception, but most of the diversity in the room came from outside the USA. To this point, I haven’t done anything about what I’ve seen.

I’m also well aware that this won’t exactly solve the issue of diabetes meetings, conferences, etc. that are not as diverse as they could be. I mean, it’s not like people of color have been excluded from the events I’ve attended. And where there has been diversity, it appears to me that people have been welcoming.

But by and large, diabetes conferences and other events still look different from the way the rest of my world looks. And if doing this one, small thing helps to begin to change that, if it begins to help communities that have been underrepresented, I’m comfortable with my decision.

There are powerful leaders among us, and it would be ludicrous to think that they are all white. As I’m fond of saying, we need all the advocates we can get. Frankly, I don’t care what they look like. And while I can’t speak for them, I suspect that the white friends I have in the diabetes community feel the same way.

Likewise, there are many in need of support and empowerment in the diabetes community, and I have to believe the needs I see among those who look like me are at least matched by those who do not look like me. And if they’re in need, frankly, I don’t care what they look like.

I haven’t thought very hard about rules for this little effort. But for starters, here’s what I’m looking for:

– You need to be a person of color (loosely defined; in other words, you don’t look like me)

– Since this is for the Diabetes UnConference, you must be an adult living with diabetes, or an adult close to someone living with diabetes of any type

– You need to want to use your opportunity to help others… paying it forward is part of the plan

We’ll make up the rest as we go along.

If you’re interested, send me an e-mail using the E-Mail Stephen link in the upper left part of this page. On August 14, I will pick a winner from among those responding. Be ready for follow-up questions. I don’t want to make it difficult for you, but I do want to make sure you can make it, and I want to make sure this event is a good fit for you.

One more ask: Please share this with others you know in the diabetes community. I would be thrilled to have to choose from a number of applicants.

Finally, this is not all there is. If we think about it, probably all of us, no matter what we look like, can figure out a way to help make diabetes events look more like the rest of the communities we live in. I’m hoping I can provide scholarships in the future. Not sure if I can, but that’s the goal. But that’s not all I can do. Whether it’s through communicating with additional diabetes groups, or through a donation, or through continuing to be a welcoming presence wherever we are, I know you and I can help make diversity a part of the diabetes advocacy we all believe in.

We all want to reduce the burden of diabetes on everyone living with this disease. This is just one small step. A symbolic step perhaps, but it’s what I can do.
Now, let me ask: What can you do?

Another 5k in the books.

Well, I managed to get it done. Again.

This past Sunday marked the running of our neighborhood 5k. I’ve done this run every year since my early forties, with the exception of 2015, when I opted for surgery on a torn meniscus instead.

It’s a fun event. It’s great to be a part of, and it’s close to home. The weather was about as good as you can get for Maryland in mid-July: temperatures in the low 70s, with atypically low humidity, and not a cloud in the sky.

How did I do diabetes-wise? Only okay. Actually, it was a stark reminder of how adrenaline affects your blood sugar in a negative way. I woke up at 74 mg/dL. I had a little juice, waited around at home with a heating pad on my sore hamstring (what a difference that made), and then checked right before leaving for the race: 152 mg/dL.

Once I got to the race venue, I did some stretching and tried to stay hydrated. One more check before the race began revealed 192 mg/dL. Did I mention I was feeling a lot of stress about finishing this year?

Regardless, I was able to finish, and a check about five minutes after completion showed I had only gone down to 177 mg/dL. I was plenty hydrated; this was all stress. But I knew eventually, the stress would go away, and I could sink fast if I wasn’t careful.

I grabbed a bagel at the post-race spread (which is always nice, by the way) and put it in my bag so I could enjoy it at home. After eating a big, poofy bagel (think MEGA carbs), hydrating some more, and getting a shower, two and a half hours later, I was sitting at 94 mg/dL. Stress gone.

How did I do race-wise? Better than I thought I would. My fastest pre-race run was right around 36 minutes, and I didn’t finish any mile in under 10 minutes. But race day always makes you go a little faster. Though I don’t think I was able to do a sub 10-minute mile, I did manage to cover the 3.1 miles in 33 minutes, 12 seconds. Good enough to be 199th out of 462 runners overall, 20th out of 43 runners in my age group.

The photo above is really the only one of me that we got. However, I did record a little video after I finished, showing others finishing the race.

If you’ve been thinking of entering yourself in a race like this, and you start to wonder why you’re doing it, I hope you come back to this video for inspiration (watch full screen if you can). There weren’t a lot of people lining the home stretch, but we (especially Maureen & I) were vocal. When you’re on that last run to the finish, the feeling of having people cheering you on is indescribable. This is what we all run for.

Friends for Life Orlando 2017.

Full disclosure: I was able to spend last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at Friends for Life in Orlando, Florida. Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition paid for my travel. All opinions are unquestionably mine, and it was my honor to advocate before so many wonderful people.

Just like last year, I worked the DPAC booth in the exhibit hall at Friends for Life, the largest gathering of People With Diabetes in the country. I was also lucky enough to sit in a couple of sessions and spend time once again with diabetes friends.

I remain grateful for the opportunity to advocate for those living with and affected by diabetes, and in the USA, DPAC is the best, easiest way I know of to make your voice heard by elected officials and policy makers across the country. If you haven’t yet, please download the DPAC app now and add your voice to the growing chorus advocating nationwide.

There was quite a bit of lively discussion during the various advocacy sessions led by DPAC CEO Christel Marchand Aprigliano and Stewart Perry. People were asking questions after the sessions and letting their friends know about DPAC too, and that gives us all a great feeling. I know our advocacy efforts will only grow from here.

The rest of the conference (or at least the part that I was there for) was wonderful too, as always. The Children With Diabetes staff really goes out of their way to make everyone feel welcome… even the exhibitors.

I’m not sure I can tell you anything special about this year’s gathering though. I think there are a number of reasons for that.

First, think about it: there really aren’t any amazing product launches that are new. Medtronic’s 670g is fairly new, but Medtronic was once again absent from the largest concentration of Type 1 diabetes patients in one place anywhere in the country.

There weren’t any recent research announcements either. Nothing that makes patients (and especially parents) excited for the next improvement in diabetes management.

Plus, I think Children With Diabetes has a problem. It’s a wonderful problem created by their wonderful efforts to bring additional sessions to adults, and emerging adults, and teens and tweens, and parents, and other caregivers.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want CWD to change any of that. Their challenge going forward will be to avoid having their amazing inclusiveness create a lot of smaller gatherings, rather than what has always felt like one big gathering of diabetes family.

That’s a tall order. But if anyone can pull it off, I suspect Jeff Hitchcock and his fabulous team can do it. Let’s face it: nothing stays the same. It’s not avoiding change, but instead embracing change and making it work for everyone, that helps great things evolve. And Friends for Life has always been a great thing.

In addition to that, there was one part of Friends for Life that I don’t usually pay much attention to… but it really hit me this year.

I took a couple of moments to go through the Quilt for Life exhibit that is always set up in the back of the hall. The display includes hundreds of quilts depicting various diabetes issues, interests, and people living with this insidious condition.

So to finish up, here are a few photos of quilts I noticed. I don’t know why yet, but the last one really got me, and it still does. I practically broke down right on the exhibit hall floor when I saw it. How does it affect you?



I am under no obligation to do so, but I should mention that there is one more Friends for Life gathering coming up this year, and it will be in my part of the world. Friends for Life Falls Church will be coming to the D.C. area October 6, 7, and 8. To find out more, CLICK HERE.

I don’t have to tell you, but…

I don’t have to tell you, but for the purposes of starting this blog post:

Getting older is hard.

I’ve been training since mid-May for my local 5k, the one I run nearly every year. Nearly every year, I start training in May, so when the race comes in mid-July, I’m ready to go 3 point some-odd miles without stopping.

I’ll admit, I hate to run. Hate it. I’m not very fast, though I’m not slow, and more than any other activity, running pushes my heart rate up. Usually, into the 190-200 beats per minute range, no matter how slow I go. Training allows me to keep it between 180 and 190 on race day, but that’s about as good as I can do.

The thing is… I like the race itself. Once the horn sounds and we’ve all started, it feels more like a party at 180 to 190 beats per minute. Plus, this event is close, about five minutes away from my house. And the truth is, there are far fewer activities (read also: competitions) I can get into at my age.

Okay, I know I’m not that old, but training this year has made me feel old for really, the very first time. I’m now at the point where I don’t know if I can run a sub-ten-minute mile anymore. I’ve been trying, but I’m not there yet. It’s hard to describe… but when I run now, I seem to reach a point where I just can’t seem to move my legs any faster than they’re already going.

Put another way, my top end speed is definitely slower than my top end speed has ever been. Even when I really push myself.

The good news is that my blood sugars don’t care. Rare is the occasion where I’m above 200 mg/dL these days, although I did have one terrible excursion in the over-300 range after a four mile run last weekend. Definitely hydration related. Once I got a correction bolus in, and about 40 ounces of water, I was back down around 100 mg/dL. So fortunately, I was only up there for around two hours.

The race is in a week and a half. After that, I’ll go back to training on the bike, though sadly, there are no bike rides to train for at this point. But I plan to run this race again next year, and do bike rides too, for a few years more, if I can still muster the energy.

For now, all I can do is look forward. There is still some hard training to do, but each run completed means one less run to do before the race. And I think that’s the point for me: concentrate on the next workout, the next event. Don’t worry about how much effort is involved, or how much more difficult it is now compared to 15 years ago.

The weird thing is, I feel weaker, more vulnerable than ever, at a time when I’m doing things that will actually help me stay active longer and hopefully, help me live longer. Like diabetes, concentrating on the good rather than the difficult will help me power through and achieve more than if I stick my head in the sand. A week and a half to go!

Editor’s note: I’ll be taking the rest of the week off (from running and writing) to volunteer at the DPAC booth in the exhibit hall at Friends for Life in Orlando, Florida. If you’re at Friends for Life, stop by and say hello!

Now, more than ever.

I wonder sometimes if I haven’t changed over the last several months.

These are tough times here where I live, and it seems like many of the things I believe in, the things I was taught in school, don’t really apply to today’s America. Or maybe this is the America that was here all along, but it’s just showing itself in a more public way. I realize just reading that can inspire different interpretations based on your political leanings, but this is not about that.

Regardless of how you look at things, there seems to be a lot to worry about.

I’m getting older… there’s that. And, of course, health care is multi-faceted and multi-argued, and it probably will be for the foreseeable future. Where I can, I’m trying to be a better friend, a better colleague, a better person overall. However, in some ways, I fear I’ve become a less happy person at times.

Let’s face it… I think we’re all feeling a little more stressed out these days.

That’s why this community, this diabetes community, is so important.

Photo courtesy of The Diabetes Collective, Inc.


That photo is from the second Diabetes UnConference. There are a number of friendships that begin on UnConference weekend that continue far beyond the event itself. Friendships that stick to you. Friendships that restore your faith in people. Friendships that make the time apart from each other seem interminable, and the time spent with each other flash by in a nanosecond.

Whether it’s virtually, or over brunch like it was this past weekend, being able to communicate with others who walk the same stretch of road you walk can have a huge, positive impact. There’s something about the feeling you get knowing that you belong, not because you’re famous or independently wealthy or part of another special group… but because you’re stuck with a condition that no one wants. And someone else is too.

It’s the feeling that amazingly, something about this crappy disease is worth celebrating.

Photo courtesy of Rhonda B.


Does this mean we’re not going to experience problems? Of course we are. Life doesn’t go away just because we get to spend a couple hours in the presence of friends.

But those two hours certainly make those problems a little more bearable.

I think that’s the point. Even when we’re up against deadlines and doctor appointments; projects and finger pricks; goals and glucose issues, we have our friends to lean on, who understand, and just help us forget about the drag of diabetes for a while.

Now, more than ever, we all need friends who remind us that there’s more to life than the next big thing to complain about. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to find one or more friends, virtually or in person, who will accept you for the contribution to community that you truly are or wish to be.

Looking to make new friends? Want to talk about diabetes in a safe, supportive atmosphere? The Diabetes UnConference is coming to Northern Virginia October 13 – 15, 2017. This fall, the UnConference is being co-hosted along with the Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women. Two chances to make new friends! To learn more, and to start the process of making new friends in the diabetes community, CLICK HERE.

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