Tag Archives: 8 things

8 Things: Communicate wisely.

Let me just say from the outset… I doubt that many who actually need to read this will do so. Also, I’m not even going to try to top what Renza wrote, because it says so much of what I’m thinking too. Being kind is the best way to establish respect and maintain your own self-respect.

But for the sake of providing my own perspective on how to get along inside and outside of the diabetes community (and I can’t believe we’re talking about this again), here are 8 things I try to keep in mind when I engage with someone who holds a different point of view.

1. First, I almost always wait.

Why wait when your point of view is under attack and it seems like everyone else is responding and jumping into the fray?

There are lots of reasons to wait. Often, just waiting takes the air out of someone’s self-important balloon. By the time you respond, they don’t have as much energy left to disagree with you. Also, and I can’t stress this enough… waiting gives you time to form your words and consider how you’re going to respond, or if you’ll respond at all.

That doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing while I wait. It just means that I’m not responding yet. However, I may be writing a draft of what I want to say; or figuring out a strategy for responding that includes what I want to say and what I want to say to any potential responses to my initial response.

By the time I finally do respond, I almost always do so with a more measured, more powerful message.

2. But sometimes, you just have to let it go. Not everything, or everyone, deserves your response. Some opinions and the people who speak them need to exist in a vacuum all by themselves. Restraint is tough, but sometimes you have to go high when they go low, to quote Michelle Obama.

Also, I like the idea of Abraham Lincoln and the “hot letter”. When confronted with an attacker either inside or outside of government, Lincoln would sometimes write a letter detailing his exact thoughts in the moment. Often, he wouldn’t send them or even sign them. I believe they were catharsis in a way, and probably sometimes, a first draft of a more tactful response to a difficult situation. I’ve done this too.

3. Try to address the issue, not the person. When I was a retail manager, I used to tell my employees that despite what we’re told, the customer is not always right… but the customer should never be made to feel like it’s their fault they’re wrong. Even if it is.

As much as I can separate the issue from the person expressing their opinion, I try to do that. Hurt feelings over being wrong about an issue is something people can get over. Hurt feelings over personal attacks are a much bigger hurdle.

4. Find the dividing line. There’s a dividing line somewhere, between anger or disappointment, and just being bitter. I’m okay with acknowledging someone’s anger over an issue, or disappointment at being left out of a discussion. But if you’re bitter? You own that all by yourself pal, and you’ll have to live with it, because I’m not going to validate your bitterness by responding to it.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find that dividing line I mentioned, but the more you can separate anger or disappointment from bitterness, the more likely it is that you’ll wind up maintaining a decent amount of personal space between you and your critic. And you’ll be more likely to maintain the respect of and from a critic, as long as they don’t cross that line into bitterness.

A few other very important points I’d like to make:

5. Make sure you’re right. If you’re calling out a journalist for using the word “gadget” in a story on medical devices, you’d better make sure you haven’t used the same word in the same context on your blog or in Facebook posts. Nothing kills your argument faster than contradicting yourself.

6. It’s okay to let someone have the last word. I’ve often stated my point of view and told my counterpart that I will let them have the last word. That does two things: 1) It closes the conversation after they make their last point; and 2) It really makes them think hard about the last point they’re going to make, because they know I’m not paying attention after that.

Especially when they’re being bitter, sometimes the best way to handle a detractor is by letting them cry themselves to sleep, so to speak. The more they display bitterness, the more my lack of reaction shines a light on it.

7. Sometimes, it’s better to handle things personally. In other words, through an e-mail, or even one on one at a conference or meeting. That can be more difficult because it doesn’t offer the false high that comes with a swift social media response. Regardless, public displays of outrage are not always the best way to get your point across.

8. Forever is a long time. It’s forever, man. I have had difficult communications with individuals, even where they were being bitter, and ended them in ways that leaves the door open for reconciliation. Now we can at least have a decent conversation online again, even if I don’t agree with their point of view.

Say what you want to say. But if you’re going to set something on fire, make sure it’s worth torching. I speak from experience, and trust me, you don’t want to have to cross back over a bridge you’ve already burned.
 
 
I hope these are useful pointers for you as you continue to navigate the information superhighway. Remember that people are on the other end of what you post. People with feelings, with jobs they’d like to keep, with families to feed, and with reputations they’d like to keep intact.

Aren’t you the same?

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8 Things: Wordplay.


I’m a fan of words. Their spellings, their meanings. Learning to live with diabetes is like learning an entirely new language.

Here’s what I mean by that, using 8 examples:
 
 
1. Diabetus
I always hated when people said “diabetus” instead of “diabetes”. It’s the last two syllables… “beat us”. I don’t like the idea of living with a chronic condition that has that kind of language in its very name.

2. Medical Devices
There are more medical devices helping us to succeed with diabetes than ever before. Some people name their Dexcom Dex, or their pump some other name. If you’re someone using an Omnipod, do you call yourself a Podder? Are you Podding? I can tell you that I am definitely not Vibeing…

3. Co-morbidities
I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want one morbidity, let alone two or more. I might settle for 1/2 a morbidity, but that’s all. No more. I can only accept so much. I wonder if this is that bargaining part of bargaining, denial anger, depression, and acceptance we hear about?

4. Target range
To be honest, it would be a lot easier to hit the target if the target didn’t move constantly throughout the day. That’s the way it is with diabetes, every day. This is a term I’d love to find a replacement for.

5. Basal
When I wanted to begin on an insulin pump, I must admit that I didn’t even know what a basal or a bolus was. No endocrinologist I ever saw up to that point described dosing insulin in this way. Once my current endo educated me, I had trouble for a week or two remembering which was the basal and which was the bolus. So I tried to think of basal as the herb… you know, basil. I imagined an herb leaf every time I logged in what my basal rate was for the day. Don’t knock it… it worked.

6. Bolus
I don’t really have much to say about bolusing, except that I get ticked off every time autocorrect changes it to “blousing”.

7. Advocacy
Like many people, I used to think that advocacy was too big and too difficult for someone like me. The truth is that advocacy is easier than you think, it can take place in many forms, and it usually has a positive effect on both the subject and the practitioner of said advocacy. So let your advocacy loose… you’ve got a lot to give.

8. Lancet
Another word I don’t like. Probably because it has elements of onomatopoeia to it. In other words, the word itself sounds too much like what it does, which is lance the skin to get blood for a glucose test. I wouldn’t mind the onomatopoeiac nature of it so much if it were something a little nicer.
 
 
And there you have it… eight diabetes words, and eight ways of looking at them. I hope your weekend is fabulous. Talk to you next week!

8 keys to my diabetes success.

How is your diabetes?

That’s a loaded question, but it’s one that I get asked all the time. Like my diabetes is a pet or a sibling or something.

The last time I was asked “How is your diabetes?”, I started to reflect on the incredible number of ways that people have helped me over the years. And I got a picture clearer than ever before that this really is a team game, and I have so many to thank for any success I’ve achieved.

So, without further ado, here are 8 things that have been keys to my diabetes success:

1. My endocrinologist. She did a terrific job of getting me ready to begin life on an insulin pump eight years ago. I can’t believe it’s actually been eight years. Along the way, she’s helped me make little changes that have added up to big benefits, at least in terms of A1c numbers and avoiding dangerous highs and lows.

2. Diabetes technology. While we’re at it, where would I be without my pump and my continuous glucose monitor (CGM)? After hating it at first, I’ve come to rely on my CGM as the truth teller of what my glucose is doing throughout my day. It’s also alerted me to dangerous lows before they became a problem. That’s the first time I’ve written that, because I like the idea of handling things myself. But I have to give credit where credit is due… my Dexcom has been worth the cost so far.

3. #DSMA. The fastest hour of the week happens every Wednesday night at 9:00 eastern time here in the USA. Whether I’m a participant or moderator, I still get a kick out of the inside jokes, the GIFs, and other shenanigans that take place in addition to the diabetes-themed questions and answers during the weekly get-together.

4. Writers. Let’s add diabetes podcasters in there, because I like podcasts too. Part subject matter experts, part editorial pundits, part inspirational advocates, the people who take to the internet to write and podcast the latest and greatest (or worst) about this disease are changing lives, and saving them too.

5. Friends. I don’t think I can begin to count all the times my diabetes friends have helped me with something I wanted to know, wanted to figure out how to do, or needed to avert disaster. I did the first arm insertion of my CGM at a conference after being shown how to do it by someone else. I’ve been lucky enough to sit at a table (like the proverbial fly on the wall) and watch movers and shakers discuss policy and outcomes. I had not one, not two, but three people save my ass when I was in London without an inserter for my pump infusion set. I am so grateful for this and so much more that my friends have provided over the years.

6. Product and Software Developers. Ever-slimmer CGM sensors and hybrid closed loop insulin pumps. Open source software that actually closes the loop for people who have the right equipment and a little know how. Data platforms where our information can securely reside, for ourselves and our health care team to see. I’m not seeing this kind of effort or these kind of results positively affecting any other patient community.

7. Clinical Trial Participants. I haven’t talked about them much around here for a while. But clinical trial participants make a lot of the new technology and drugs we see even better by bravely stepping forward and agreeing to see necessary research through to its necessary conclusion. They provide more than just a body or a number for researchers… they provide valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t, and any product or software developer worth their salt should pay heed when that insight is shared.

8. Insurance Companies and Prescription Providers. Just kidding… did you really think I would include those two in a “Best of” list? I’ll tell you what… let’s make this last one the Diabetes Online Community. The DOC saved me once before, and I can give you a few pointed examples of lives young and old that were positively impacted by this vibrant and wonderful group of souls from around the world.
 
 
For better or worse, those are my 8 keys to diabetes successes. What are yours?

8 Questions.

You know, sometimes things roll around in your head and you just need to get them out so you can let them go. Like these eight questions:

1. Have you ever used your BG readouts to choose lottery numbers? Just me? Here’s the game:

Let the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpots get really high. Then take your BG number from either your CGM or your glucose meter throughout the day and play those numbers. Of course, you have to use just two digits, so if the number is 123 or 223, you play 23. If the number is 84 (the jackpot numbers only go up to about 60), you switch it so you play the number 48.

I’ve never won the lottery with this scheme, but if I did, wouldn’t that make a terrific story?

2. Does anyone ever think that a president who would fire his Secretary of State via tweet would actually care about anyone living with a chronic condition?

Ever?

3. Would you rather have a CGM sensor that you can stop and restart for weeks, or one that requires exactly zero fingerstick calibrations for only ten days? I think we’re going to find out the answer to that throughout the rest of 2018. At any rate, this is the way of the future, so love it or leave it, this seems to be the way we’re going.

4. After hearing the recent news about Facebook not only selling user profile information, but also the ability to access mobile device data without our consent (and don’t try to shame me for this practice by reminding me that I agreed to the terms of service when I created my account around a decade ago)… are you more reluctant to upload all your device data somewhere?

If I were going to run for president, or the senate, or if I would be up for a cabinet post, maybe. But I think my diabetes device data is pretty low on the official russian operative priority list.

5. What’s your next big focus in diabetes advocacy? Is it insulin affordability? Is it learning more about the FDA drug approval process, or finding out about the tricks pharmacy benefit managers play with formularies? There are still many avenues of diabetes advocacy we can pursue, and one amazing place to find out and take action on them all.

If you live in the USA, go to diabetespac.org and download the DPAC app. Use it to join the chorus of caring patients, caregivers, and other Americans who are taking action on these and even more issues in quick, easy steps that will have you feeling great about advocacy without spending every waking hour wondering how you’re going to squeeze it into your schedule. And one of the best things about DPAC is that they’re totally non-partisan. There’s room for everybody.

Use the easy button. Get the DPAC app.

6. If I donate to a JDRF or ADA ride or walk for someone else, but don’t actually participate in any of them myself, am I a bad supporter of those causes?

I happily donate to others’ JDRF or ADA fundraisers. But I’ve never ridden in a JDRF ride. After doing a few ADA rides and paying all or nearly all of the minimum contribution needed to participate each time, I’ve given up on those too. I’m sure they’re still wonderful happenings, and I still have the energy to do them. But at this point, the price of admission is just too high. Right now, I’m okay with helping four or five people reach their goal of participating, instead of helping only myself. Is that wrong?

7. Is lack of appetite a sign of old age? I’m just not the foodie that I once was. I eat far less today than I’ve ever eaten as an adult. If I could eat anything right now… I don’t think I could choose anything. For the most part, I’m just eating for sustenance. I’m not losing any weight, but I’m certainly eating less.

I’m exercising more too, if that matters. But I’ve always been active anyway.

Finally…

8. What should I do on my birthday? It’s next week. It’s not a milestone birthday, so I’ll probably just go to work and come home and be grateful I can still go to work and come home.

I think winter has lasted far too long around here.
 
 
Great… now that I have that out of my head, I can go play those lottery numbers. What have you been thinking about lately?

8 Things: Holiday gifts for everyone living with diabetes.

Hey, how are you? I hope you’re in the middle of a rather stupendous holiday season.

I hope that gifts are in order this year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or another holiday, giving and getting are AWESOME. So let’s look at 8 holiday gifts all People With Diabetes could really use this year:

1. More support. There are new diabetes diagnoses every day. There are new people waking up, like I did six years ago, realizing their diabetes doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

I hope those people find the hope and support that I found when I found this community. And I hope they pay it forward when they do.

2. Laughter. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I really laughed hard. I’m ready for something really funny to just knock me out of my chair.

Likewise, I think it would be really great if I could make someone else laugh too. I just hope it’s not because I did something really embarrassing at the same time.

3. Retail Competition for Closed Loop Systems. Honestly, the #WeAreNotWaiting movement, and all of the do-it-yourself systems it has spawned, has taken a bit of the wind out of the sails out of the commercial artificial pancreas designers out there.

Eventually, we know these systems (the iLet, Cell Novo, etc.) will be approved, but whenever we start to see rollout of non-DIY closed loop, I hope it’s not just one at a time. Good, reliable technology is what we need, and we need more than one option to choose from.

4. More knowledge sharing. Here at Happy Medium, I try to do my best to keep you as up-to-date as I can on the latest diabetes happenings, especially when it comes to news out of Washington, D.C., and items I gather from attendance at various conferences, research summits, and symposia.

I would like to see more of that from everyone in our community, or at least a sharing of resources for learning about new developments in diabetes. Not just, “Here’s the group I spoke in front of today”– which is still good, and should be shared– but also an occasional post that says, “I read this interesting thing today”, or “This event is happening in your area”. I don’t see much of that anymore.

5. A couple of diabetes memes. I can’t handle something new every week, but it’s fun when we can get out of whatever rut we’re in and post something on a common theme. Hey, I’m not the only one with good ideas!

I love Diabetes Blog Week, and I loved the social media #MakeDiabetesVisible campaign during Diabetes Awareness Month. Again, I don’t need a prompter all the time, but it might be cool to do a #dblog Check-in Day, or Diabetes Art Day, or No-D Day again.

6. A couple of recipes might be nice too. One of my favorite things to do here is share recipes, but I haven’t done a lot of that lately. Have I shared every recipe I know?

Chances are, I haven’t. Chances are, you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time to search our cookbooks (give credit where credit is due) and family recipes and deliver something new for everyone’s palate to enjoy.

7. Less Uncertainty. Let’s face it… we’ve been through the wringer on this Affordable Care Act thing. Ever since this time last year, we’ve all been worried out of our minds about whether ACA will still exist, and whether it will be as helpful and as accessible as it has been up to now.

We’ve always known it was broken. Damn few of us expected a so-called “fix” that would break it entirely. Let’s stop the uncertainty, congress. Let’s take away the roadblocks toward giving Americans the same healthcare rights available in every other decent nation in the world. Do that, congress, and maybe I’ll use the big C when I refer to you again.

8. More Kindness. Any change, meaningful change, change that lasts, begins and ends with kindness. Empathy. Decency. Change that lasts does not include cheating, lying, or calling people, even elected officials, names.

This gift could also go to some of our friends in the diabetes community, who have been less than friendly with people not living with their type of diabetes, or are fans of one cause but not another. We all want the same thing. Bashing each other to get there, or to get more notice, is a recipe for eventual failure. You might get your way initially. But no one is going to be excited about how you got there, and that will be shown in their overwhelming lack of support for you.
 
 
However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are full of gifts, however you define them. And happiness, however you define it. Here’s to us this holiday season… may we celebrate many, many more!

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