Monthly Archives: May 2016

And Diabetes Blog Week Begins. Today: Message Monday.

Welcome to Diabetes Blog Week! Diabetes Blog Week is just like it sounds… diabetes bloggers all blogging on daily topics for an entire week. Or, in this year’s case, for five days. To find out all about Diabetes Blog Week and to sign up,

As always, thank you to Karen Graffeo, creator and curator of Diabetes Blog Week. She’s awesome.

Welcome to Diabetes Blog Week 2016. I’m glad you could join us. We begin this year with: Message Monday.
Let’s kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog? (Thank you, Heather Gabel, for this topic suggestion)
When I think of diabetes awareness, I’m actually thinking about making people aware of diabetes. Our condition is easy to not notice when people are not confronted with it. So it’s important for me to make sure people are aware of the fact that yes, it’s likely they know someone living with diabetes. In fact, diabetes is probably much closer to them than they might think.

But it’s more than that. Diabetes awareness also means giving people a window to my life with diabetes. And some insight into what other People With Diabetes go through every day. That’s important, because the more people know, the more they’re going to care about people living with diabetes. I want them to care.

It’s also making people aware of the things that really matter to People With Diabetes. Things like access to the proper care, drugs, devices, and support that will help them live a happy life for many years into the future. And it means making them aware that even if diabetes isn’t a part of their lives, chronic illness, to borrow a quote out of the republican playbook, is under attack in America. The more they know about that, the more they’re going to care too.

Finally, I want them to know that I can be a success with diabetes in my life. It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s never easy. But I can live the same kind of life, dreaming many of the same dreams that people not living with diabetes dream, while actually making some of those dreams come true. I want people to be aware that I’m not an anomoly… I’m just like they are, only I have diabetes as a permanent part of my life.

When I started this blog, I wanted to tell my story. I wanted to leave something behind that relatives and future relatives could read and learn from. And I wanted to have fun doing it.

I don’t know when my message morphed from that to the one described above it. But it happened. And just like everything else in my life, my message has changed over the years. Hopefully, whatever it is, my message will resonate and be helpful long after my blogging days are done.

Your Story Is Important. And it’s critical right now.

As you know from the UHC/Medtronic uproar last week (CLICK HERE to read my take), diabetes advocacy has taken on a renewed sense of purpose.

But when I mention diabetes advocacy, the two biggest reactions I hear from people are: I don’t have the time; and I don’t have the platform.

What if I told you that you do have a platform? And what if I told you that taking advantage of that platform could save time over, I don’t know, writing a letter and sending it in the mail. Or creating a website and posting to it. Or going onto Facebook and shouting to all of your friends and family, most of whom agree with you anyway?
Enter the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. Just as they have done for the CGM Medicare and #SuspendBidding issues for seniors in the USA, DPAC has created a page (your platform) where you can tell your story about navigating the not-so-enchanted forest of healthcare. Whether it’s the latest debate about exclusive agreements with device makers, or unexplained formulary changes that force you to switch from the insulin that works best for you, you now have a place to voice your frustration and share your specific details.

CLICK HERE to access your very own platform for change.

Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition will be compiling the stories submitted and sharing them with the Diabetes Community, the healthcare universe, and our elected officials. So tell your story… no one else knows it as well as you. Speak from the heart. Use this opportunity to provide your own brand of diabetes advocacy, and help others who are undoubtedly going through the same things.
One additional item I’d like to share with you too: There will be a DPAC Tweet-In on Thursday night in the USA beginning at 8:00 ET. It will be an hour where we’ll get together and send advocacy tweets on the #SuspendBidding and #DiabetesAccessMatters issues, and much more. There’s a web page that gives you the entire step-by-step process so you don’t have to ask “where do I start?”. You’ll find that page HERE.

All are welcome, and in fact encouraged, to submit their story. More than that, all are needed to enact real change for our community. The best part is, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition allows you to perform that advocacy on a real level in a very easy way.

Diabetes advocacy should not be the domain of a few. Take just a couple of minutes today… a couple of minutes Thursday night. I promise you that your voice will be heard. You will make a difference. And you will feel good about it. We have the numbers. Now let’s work on putting our numbers to use not only for ourselves, but for the betterment of everyone living with a chronic condition.

Thank you for your advocacy.

Don’t miss it: Diabetes Blog Week, May 16 thru May 20

Among all the wonderful people I’ve met from the Diabetes Online Community, I would have trouble choosing just one who I would consider a best friend. How do you choose just one? I could list hundreds of DOC Best Friends.

But if I did make a list, near the top of that list for me would be Karen Graffeo, writer at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes, and creator of Diabetes Blog Week. This year’s edition of #DBlogWeek happens May 16 through May 20.
Why am I telling you about Diabetes Blog Week an entire week before it happens? So you can get ready, of course! I know that many of the readers of this blog are also writers of blogs of their own, so if you are writing a blog about diabetes, about your life with diabetes, I encourage you to take part. If you’re thinking of starting your own diabetes blog, telling your story, bringing your light to the world, I can think of no better week to start than next week.

Karen has already posted the topics for each day of the week HERE. Thst’s great for me, because I need a head start this year.

Once we reach the 16th, Karen will post links to a page where you can both link your post for that day, and get other posts to read from that day. You’re probably thinking that this would be a great way to discover new diabetes blogs, and you would be right.

Oh, one other thing: there is now a Diabetes Blog Week Facebook page! Yet another place for you to post to and read posts from.

I really like the topics this year, and I’m really looking forward to the chance to write freely for five straight days. I love to write in this space, and if you are looking for a chance to reach people through the power of your own voice, it would be difficult to find a better platform than Diabetes Blog Week, beginning May 16.

Choice Is Necessary.

United Healthcare has decided that, as of July 1, adult patients with diabetes on certain UHC insurance plans who want insulin pump therapy should only be allowed to choose a Medtronic insulin pump. Hat tip to DiabetesMine for breaking the news.

There’s a lot more to it than just that one sentence, and obviously, people have a lot of questions.

Let me first say this: people who work for medical device makers and insurance companies are actual people, and they have families and concerns of their own, so I don’t think it’s fair to equate companies and their practices with the people who work hard for them every day.

That said, it’s really hard to find anything good in this discovery. Let’s be honest, okay? There is nothing good in this discovery. It is only benefitting those implementing the rule, and only harming those affected by the rule.

There was some explanation from United Healthcare about why they’re going down this road, and it’s a ridiculously weak argument. You can come to your own conclusions about it after you read what they have to say about it. But my take is that they’re not even trying to give a good explanation for this. Medtronic, for their part, has remained silent.

Did UHC get something for making Medtronic an exclusive provider? Or are they just being lazy, deciding they don’t want to keep up on all of the insulin pump manufacturers out there? Is Medtronic out there trying to cut similar deals with other insurance companies? Does this put pressure on other device makers to try and secure their own piece of the pie? Most of all: What if an actual artificial pancreas solution is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it’s not a Medtronic solution? Does that leave UHC patients out in the cold?

I’m not even going to try to answer those questions. They’re not important. They just don’t matter.

Because any way you slice it, this is bad news for People With Diabetes.

United Health Group, parent company of United Healthcare, has this as their mission statement:
“We seek to enhance the performance of the health system and improve the overall health and well-being of the people we serve and their communities.”

“We work with health care professionals and other key partners to expand access to quality health care so people get the care they need at an affordable price.”

“We support the physician/patient relationship and empower people with the information, guidance, and tools they need to make personal health choices and decisions.”
It appears that the latest about this exclusivity arrangement shows UHC’s mission statement to be rather disingenuous. In fact, it looks like they just took a giant shit all over it and its claims to “expand access to quality health care so people get the care they need at an affordable price”.

Reducing Eliminating choice for patients is wrong, it reduces innovation, and in no way does it “improve the overall health and well-being” of People With Diabetes, or even save them money.

I’m going to start saying something, and I’m going to repeat it any time someone asks me why something like this is a big deal.

Choice isn’t just important… choice is necessary.

Companies love to talk about how competition is good for the marketplace, good for consumers. Apparently, it’s not good enough for United Healthcare, because they just turned a fire hose on the idea of competition. You know, there are studies that show People With Diabetes do better when they have more information, more tools, and yes, better tools to help them manage their condition. I can’t find a single shred of evidence anywhere that says removing choices for patients with a chronic condition helps them live better lives.

You are wrong, United Healthcare. You’ve made a decision that only benefits you, and does not ensure even one better outcome for any of your patients. You are wrong, and I will keep telling your rotten story to as many people as I can. Including my elected officials, and news agencies.

For my part, I wish I would have had access to this information when I visited Medtronic a couple of weeks ago. The upper echelons of Medtronic Diabetes management was there that day, and someone must have known that this decision was imminent. But they didn’t share it with any of the advocates in the room. I would have liked to have asked questions and share my view directly with Medtronic brass that day.

Just as there are actual people working for these two organizations, there are actual People With Diabetes insured by UHC. And those people deserve and are entitled to choices when it comes to how they manage their diabetes. Patient trumps proprietary. And it always will.

Liquid Splenda? A little goes a long way.

I was contacted recently regarding by a PR person asking if I’d like to try a sample of a new Splenda product: Splenda® Zero™ Liquid Sweetener.
This is liquid Splenda. In case you didn’t know, I’m a Splenda fan, and when approached, I thought it would be fun to try this out. The idea is that this is Splenda’s formula, just in liquid form.

To set the table (no pun intended), Splenda is sucralose. It’s what goes into Coke Zero, which I really like. Another popular artificial sweetener is aspartame, which is what’s used in Diet Coke. And there’s your difference.

Up to now, we’ve only seen Splenda in granular form in the marketplace, and that’s been okay, because it still works in my morning coffee. How does liquid Splenda perform?

Very well, and very sweet (no pun intended). I mean, a little of this stuff goes a long, long way.

When I received my sample in the mail, I was surprised at how small the bottle was (1.68 fluid ounces), and I reached out to my contact at the PR firm that arranged the review and I asked whether the size I received was the actual retail size, or if it would be bigger. The answer was yes, what I received is the retail size, and it will sell for around $4.99 US.

Tasting it in my coffee, I understand why the bottle is so small. It packs quite the sweet punch. Ordinarily, a semi-heaping teaspoon of granular Splenda is what I’ll use in a typical cup of coffee. Or two packs of the stuff you see in a restaurant. In liquid form, that equates to one squirt of the bottle. More than that, and you really get extra sweetness.

I’m told that the new Splenda will go well in recipes, and I can’t wait to try it in my next batch of cornbread. I know, sweet cornbread. I’m one of those people. It’s the little something extra I go for when I’m enjoying barbeque, especially. Anyway, personal tastes aside, I can see this as something I might have in my cupboard for cooking. Not to replace sugar in things like pies, necessarily, but in things where I just need a little bump of sweetness, without the high glycemic boost that sugar brings. I suspect if you’re used to carrying a purse around every day, you could pack this little thing away and have instant artificial sweetness as close as your handbag.

If I were a thumbs-up or thumbs-down guy, I’d give this a thumbs up. Easy to figure out, still sugar free, the price isn’t crazy high. I hear it should be in your local store soon. Splenda® Zero™ Liquid Sweetener.

I was given a free sample of Splenda® Zero™ Liquid Sweetener to try at home. I not compensated in any way for my take on it, which is absolutely my view and cannot be bought with a little bottle of liquid sweetener. All opinions are my own.

%d bloggers like this: