Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thanksgiving 8 (plus one)

Another Thanksgiving is upon us here in the USA, and it’s natural to sit down and consider what we should be thankful for. Especially if we write a blog. It’s been a crazy, busy, up and down kind of year, but when it comes right down to it, I still have much to be thankful for.  In no particular order, here are Eight (plus one) reasons I’m thankful this year.
– First and foremost, I’m thankful to family that puts up with me as I am, and continues to support me in ways big and small. I’m grateful to my wife, a person who drives downtown late on a Friday night to pick me up instead of waiting at home for me to return on the subway. That’s just one of the many things she does for me, all the time.

– As usual, I’m thankful for insurance that allows me to pay for test strips, infusion sets, insulin, and doctor visits. Even if though I’m still paying too much.

– I’m thankful for this space to share my thoughts and what I’ve learned and experienced while living with diabetes. And I’m incredibly grateful to anyone who still comes here to read it. You know who you are.

– I’m incredibly thankful to organizations like Diabetes Hands Foundation, Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, JDRF, and the American Diabetes Association for persuasively advocating more, and in bigger numbers, than I could ever muster on my own.

– I’m thankful to all you crazy bike riders who cover as much as 100 miles in a single day, while raising millions of dollars for research toward a cure. You know who you are.

– I’m thankful for gatherings that allow me to meet new friends and extend existing friendships due to nothing more and nothing less than having a permanently vacationing pancreas. Diabetes UnConference, I love you.

– I’m thankful for People With Diabetes, famous and not-so-famous, who inspire me and have shown me that there is life, wonderful life, after diagnosis.

– I’m also thankful that I got to spend a few days in Brussels at the end of a business trip in February, experiencing all of the grand architecture, good food, and lovely people of a city that now has a very different look to the rest of the world. Trust me, what you’re seeing on the news is not the Brussels I discovered.

– Finally… though it sounds redundant, I’m thankful that there’s an actual Thanksgiving in the USA. If there wasn’t, there would probably be years when I would completely forget to stop and enjoy and actually, you know, be thankful for the many, many great things in my life.

Whatever your life looks like right now, I hope that this Thanksgiving brings you health, hope, and happiness. And I hope that next Thanksgiving is the first Thanksgiving without diabetes. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

What are you thankful for this year?

Diabetes By The Numbers: Dr. Vivian Pao (Part 3)

I’m so grateful to my endocrinologist, Dr. Vivian Pao, for taking the time to speak with me on the complex relationship between a diabetes patient and their endocrinologist.

This is the third and final part of our talk, and in this episode, we talk about the importance of being honest with your endo, and what keeps her up at night.
Reference Material – Click below for more information on this topic
Learn more about endocrinologists, read research and updates, and even search for an endocrinologist by clicking on one of the links below:

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

Endocrine Society

Pediatric Endocrine Society

Please let me know if Mr. Glassman would be available for an interview.

I received an e-mail last week from a PR firm that is handling an account for CrossFit. You know, CrossFit, the company with the CEO that doesn’t seem to really know what causes diabetes. Guess what? No one does, even though it seems that CrossFit’s CEO, Mark Glassman thinks he does.

Anyway, the e-mail was in reference to a California ballot initiative that CrossFit is in favor of. Here’s the text of the e-mail:
It’s not that I don’t care about this ballot issue, because I do sort of, but that’s not what I’d really like to talk about if I were to interview Mr. Glassman. Would I really want to interview Mr. Glassman? The truth is, yes, I’d like to at least have a conversation with him. I’d like to have an honest discussion about the fitness, and diet, and how those things, or lack of those things, from a scientific perspective, do not necessarily cause or reverse diabetes.

So in reply, I sent this e-mail to the PR rep:
Erin, thank you so much for reaching out regarding this story. You may or may not be aware of this, but Mr. Glassman, CrossFit’s CEO, was especially critical of People With Diabetes in an incident earlier this year. People like me. I don’t think my blog or podcast would be a good place to discuss the ballot initiative mentioned in your e-mail, though I wish you well with it. But I would like to invite Mr. Glassman to my podcast, Diabetes By The Numbers, to talk about CrossFit and diabetes.

My goal is not to ambush Mr. Glassman, but rather have a brief (30 minutes or less) conversation about how a diabetes diagnosis cannot be traced scientifically back to diet or lack of exercise, and how a diabetes diagnosis often makes one an even tougher athlete than they were prior to diagnosis. In addition, I’d like to find some common ground where we can create a dialogue, through which CrossFit and People With Diabetes may connect and be partners for positive change, celebrating what we can do together, rather than just shouting at each other.

If you can’t arrange this, I understand. But considering the fact that I live with diabetes year round, the fact that I write a blog about diabetes, and host a podcast related to diabetes, I think you can understand why I would rather talk on this subject. Please let me know if Mr. Glassman would be available for an interview.

All the best
Stephen Shaul

There are a few reasons why I responded this way. First, we often talk about seizing the opportunity to educate those who may not understand diabetes. If I’m going to be true to that, I’m going to at least ask for the interview.

Second, maybe, not likely but maybe, we can come to some sort of understanding, some sort of mutual respect or even a path by which we can both celebrate athletes who achieve their athletic goals despite diabetes.

Third, I admit… I like the challenge of an interview like this. I’m obviously not a professional, but I like to get out of my comfort zone once in a while with an interview subject. I know something like this wouldn’t be easy, and maybe it would be a disaster. But I’d like to try anyway.

If this ever amounts to anything, I’ll let you know. My guess is it won’t. But that’s not all bad either. Sometimes you just need to ask anyway.

Diabetes By The Numbers: Dr. Vivian Pao (Part 2)

Some people only get to spend about 40 minutes each year with their endo… I got to spend close to an hour with her last week. The conversation was so good that I’ve broken it up into three parts.

In this episode, we talked about how an endocrinologist considers outside factors, including depression, in treating a Person With Diabetes. Also, she talks about how she stays up on the latest and greatest in her profession, including a reference to Dr. Oz and some “raspberry, ketone thingamajiggy”.

This is part two of our conversation. We get into a lot more in part three. I hope you’ll join us for that. In the meantime, here’s Part 2.
Reference Material – Click below for more information on this topic
Learn more about endocrinologists, read research and updates, and even search for an endocrinologist by clicking on one of the links below:

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

Endocrine Society

Pediatric Endocrine Society

Like these Diabetes Awareness Month links.

It’s Diabetes Awareness Month! Saturday marks another World Diabetes Day.

Guess what? There are still very easy ways to advocate and show your solidarity with your friends who are also living with or affected by this disease. Here are just a few:

Big Blue Test: In case you didn’t know, Big Blue Test is the yearly effort from Diabetes Hands Foundation that encourages us to check our BGs, get up and get moving, then check again and log the results at Don’t have diabetes? No problem! Just leave out the BG test results. Or, if you really want to, go ahead and prick your finger before and after your exercise anyway. Whatever makes you happy.

The best part is that each test logged helps to raise much needed cash for worthy diabetes organizations like SucreBlue and CarbDM. They’re about 6500 tests short of their goal of 110,000 entries by Saturday night. So do not forget to log those Big Blue Tests, either at the website or via the handy-dandy app.
CGM coverage for Medicare patients: If you live in the USA, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition makes it super easy to e-mail your congressperson and senators. In fact, I’ll bet you can do it in under one minute. Start the clock! CLICK HERE and get the necessary text, including references to the existing bills before the House and Senate. Enter your information, click submit, and your piece of advocacy is on its way. Really, it doesn’t get any easier than that.
World Diabetes Day Twitter Chat! Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation is once again sponsoring hour upon hour of Twitter chats on World Diabetes Day, hosted each hour by a different person, all designed to raise awareness, support one another, and have a few laughs. Check in throughout the day and meet new people from around the world, engage in the conversation, and tell us how your day is going.

This year we’re doing 14 hours of continuous Twitter chat using the hashtag #WDDChat15. Each hour will have a different theme. I’ll be leading off beginning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time here in the USA, followed at 8:00 by Kelly Kunik. Remember… follow the #WDDChat15 hashtag to join the conversation.
However your week shapes up, I hope it’s filled with raising awareness and celebrating our fellow friends living with and affected by diabetes. So get going, write those letters, and I’ll talk to you on Saturday morning!

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