Category Archives: Support

Encountered by Diabetes In The Wild.

I love to read stories from friends who encounter others living with diabetes in the course of their everyday lives. Those Diabetes In The Wild stories are always interesting.

But I almost never, ever encounter diabetes in the wild myself. The times when I have encountered someone else living with diabetes have indeed been few and far between. But twice in the span of just one week, I’ve actually been the subject of someone else’s Diabetes In The Wild stories.

The first time was at my post-op visit with the surgeon who removed my appendix. At the office, I went back to get weighed and get vital signs with an assistant, who almost immediately asked “Is that an Animas Vibe insulin pump clipped to your pocket?”. I was astonished that she knew, until she mentioned that both she and her husband have been pump users in the past (her husband still is, but she is now MDI).

We talked briefly about the Medtronic 670g, and about the Abbott Libre, which will hopefully be approved by the U.S. FDA soon. I mentioned my participation in clinical trials.

The second encounter was from a technician at our Veterinarian’s office last Thursday. We were in to get Boomer a booster on one of his vaccinations. She saw the ONE—–>NONE T-shirt I was wearing, and blurted out, “I just have to ask– One to None— is that about Type 1 diabetes?”. Thanks Alecia, for the one piece of clothing that may be, above any other, a diabetes conversation starter.

The vet tech’s son is nine years old, and has been living with Type 1 for a few years. She couldn’t imagine what it will take for her son to live with diabetes for 26 years like I have. You know how you survive 26 years? One day at a time. Her son has the Vibe pump, and the Dexcom G4. She raved about Dexcom and their customer support, as did I. Later, we got her e-mail address and I sent her information about the upcoming Friends for Life Falls Church event. You can never have too many diabetes friends.

The connecting theme from these two encounters is easy to understand: there are, in fact, tens of millions of us living with diabetes in this country. Yet living with diabetes can be a lonely existence. Tens of millions of us living with diabetes, hundreds of millions of us who are clueless about what it takes to live every day with this disease.

That’s what makes that moment of recognition, that instant bond, so special. It’s not necessary for us to have friends living with diabetes, or have people in our lives who understand. But when we do, it makes all of the 3:00 a.m. glucose checks, the bad pump sites, the constant doctor visits, and the fights with insurance companies easier pills to swallow, to borrow a metaphor.

I may still have diabetes… but I have new friends who understand me, and new friends who can count on me to understand. Me too? Priceless.

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Off to college with CDN!

One of the most impressive developments in the diabetes community in the last several years has been creation of the College Diabetes Network. As of this writing, CDN has established chapters that support students living with diabetes at 112 colleges and universities.

Their website is a treasure trove of information, on everything from preparing for college, to life on campus, to relationships, to student’s rights, and more. If I’m living with diabetes in the USA, and I’m going to college soon, I want to become a CDN member.

And if you are that person, or one of your kids is a young adult who will be transitioning to college campus life soon, there are a couple of really great resources available right now.

College Diabetes Network has produced booklets for students and parents that are designed to help them through the changeover from high school to university. These booklets are great for wrapping your head around everything you need to consider ahead of time. If you’re like me, there are probably a few items in there that you haven’t thought of yet.

But that’s no problem… because you can get your hands on the student guide or the parent’s guide (or both), absolutely free. Put together in part through a grant from Eli Lilly & Company (thank you insulin maker!), you’re going to want to have these in your hands, whether you’re headed to a campus with a CDN chapter or not.

CLICK HERE to go to the CDN website, where you’ll get a preview of the guides and a chance to request one of your own.

So to review: free guide full of useful information to help you begin life at college while living with diabetes. Sounds like a winner to me. To get all of the information, and to find out more about College Diabetes Network, CLICK HERE. Good luck!

All about the support.

As you probably know by now, I really like to support my fellow Friends With Diabetes. That’s especially true when someone is bravely starting something new, and looking to make their mark.

Enter Pumpstash.

Actually, let me first tell you about Corinne Logan. Corinne has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 18 years. She’s been wearing an insulin pump for 14 of those years. Right now, she’s a sophomore at Fordham University in New York.

Her biggest problem in the last few years has been what to do with her pump. Especially when she’s competing and exercising (Corinne played lacrosse and soccer in high school), wearing spandex shorts and trying to figure out where to stash her pump has been a tall order.

Her mom came up with the idea of creating pockets in the shorts, so there would be a place to put pumps or CGM receivers. That’s what gave Corinne the idea to start Pumpstash. The idea is so simple, yet so necessary: Create something that has built-in pockets to help you store your pump and other necessary items.
Pumpstash1

Pumpstash2

Corinne is starting to get the ball rolling on her project. In fact, she’s in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign that has a little over two weeks left. Check the video, and you’ll see what it’s all about. Here’s the deal: Corinne needs $5,000 to get this thing off the ground (she’s already raised over 3,000 dollars). Once she’s secured the five thousand, she can go into production on the shorts and start offering them to customers.

The best part is, once she starts selling them, she’ll be donating 10 percent of all her proceeds to JDRF.

So… you get to help a student with an idea get that idea off the ground. And once it does, JDRF, and by extension, all of us, get to benefit too.

Hey, this is not that elusive cure we’ve been waiting for. But I am so inspired by people who aren’t just sitting around doing nothing. Here’s someone with diabetes, with a worthy idea that’s worth our support. So go visit Corinne’s Kickstarter page and help someone with their dream. And…

Good luck Corinne!
 
 
 

The DOC as an information source.

It’s easy for me to think of the Diabetes Online Community as this lovely group of people who advocate, support one another, and help others live better lives with diabetes.

What I sometimes forget, but can never underestimate, is the power of the DOC to inform and educate. Let me give you an example:

After working for my company for 15 or 16 years, I still hadn’t met one other person there living with diabetes. Now, after almost 17 and a half years, I know four.

One of those people contacted me last week to ask about the Animas Vibe system, the pump integrated with the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor. They asked me if I had tried it, and if so, what I thought of the product.

I said that I had not, but had used an Animas Ping pump during a couple of clinical trials at the University of Virginia. This person was really looking to get first-hand knowledge of how the Vibe works and whether it was worth the hype. I then digressed into how awful it is that no insulin pump maker will let patients trial pumps anymore (lamenting the demise of the Snap), and how this would all be easier if we could just decide for ourselves, instead of deciding based on what a company rep or a doctor tells us. Digression is my strong suit.

But you know what? I knew that many people have used the Vibe system, and they’ve written about it, and it wouldn’t take too long at all to find a thorough piece on the subject.

In no time, I found this insightful review of the Animas Vibe by Melissa Lee at A Sweet Life. Sure, I knew that Melissa is knowledgeable and trustworthy, but even if I didn’t know that, her review was a very good one, and I think it’s just what this person needed.

I don’t know if this will help my friend decide on whether the Vibe is the right choice for them. What I do know is that I am often guilty of thinking about how I connect to the DOC, rather than how the DOC connects with me.

This is a good reminder of the vast treasure trove of information that we are all contributing to our community. People don’t have to always go blindly about the healthcare universe, not knowing about a product they and their insurance provider are purchasing until after they purchase it. Just knowing this information is out there already helps people make informed choices, rather than guesses.

Your story, your experiences matter. Sharing the stories of others and their experiences matter just as much. That’s been true since the earliest civilizations graced our planet so many years ago.

So today, let’s remember the power of the Diabetes Online Community as an information source. And let’s keep adding to the wealth of knowledge.
 
 
 

#DBlogCheck: Building Community.

It’s another D-Blog Check-In Day (for my previous thoughts on #DBlogCheck, see here and here).

Christopher Snider, who writes at A Consequence of Hypoglycemia, started this idea a while back. Basically, it’s a day where we’re less of a lurker and more of an active online participant in the Diabetes Online Community, by leaving a comment on every post we read on diabetes blogs, Tumblr, Instagram, and so on that we see.

If you read something today, leave a comment. Even if it’s just to say “check” or “I’m here”. Be sure to share and encourage others to do the same on Twitter and elsewhere by using the hashtag #dblogcheck.

It’s a way for us to support those bravely sharing their stories, a way to build community, and more than that, it’s a way to continue the dialogue among the vast hordes living with diabetes and helping those living with diabetes. That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Writing this blog for nearly three years means that I’m not exactly a rookie anymore, but I’m not quite a seasoned veteran either. Even so, in the limited time I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen how the diabetes community has evolved. It’s true that the DOC is no longer a nascent community of random people shouting into the ether. Instead, it’s a vast interconnected network of people who know each other personally, know each other online only, or don’t know each other at all, but are nevertheless hanging on every word that is written.

Can you imagine what it must have been like in those early days? Writing out thoughts and posting them without knowing who was out there to see them? But someone did. And those initial readers responded. They connected, the same way you and I are connecting today. You know what? That kind of writing and that kind of response is still the basis of what grows the DOC, reaching more people, changing more lives.

Meanwhile, the community of it all has really grown in the last few years. Off the top of my head, I could probably list a dozen or more diabetes initiatives and organizations that have taken flight, including my own (notice the photo of the medals in the upper left corner of this page), through the sheer nature of someone raising their hand and saying I’m here, and someone else responding. How does that happen?

Through participation.

Through your participation.

Through your positive response.

It has all happened through your commitment to community.

As you comment today, think about what it means when you say “Yeah, me too”, and “Yeah, I think that’s a great idea”, and “Hey, what if you tried this”. Because while it still takes a great idea to start something, it also takes a great response to make a community successful.

So think about what your involvement means to this ever-growing community. What it means to someone who is finding their voice. What it means to someone advocating on your behalf before government officials. What it means to those raising money for an important diabetes cause. What it means to someone thinking about getting people together to encourage and support one another.

You, dear reader, are just as important as anyone else in our diabetes community. Let me take this moment to thank you for the insightful, inspirational, and encouraging comments you’ve left here so far. Let me also encourage you to continue to stay engaged with this wonderful community. You’ve made it the safe, empowering, and uplifting place it was long before I showed up. And you’ll make it the bigger, even better place it can be long after I’m gone.

Unless, of course, they find a cure first. Then you’ll have something even bigger to be proud of.
 
 
 

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