Tag Archives: blogs

Another Blogabirthday.

Today, Happy Medium turns 6. Today, I turn 56 years old. And yes, even though I’m not close to retirement, I’m at least doing the math.

Another Blogabirthday is here.

The 788 blog posts I’ve shared, including this one, have meant so much. This website has given me an extended chance to speak about subjects that have been very important to me.

Okay, there have been recipes and vacation recollections I’ve shared too, but I keep coming back to the main purpose of this blog: To connect, to share my thoughts, to serve as a platform for learning and sharing what I’ve learned. Also, to serve as a personal journal of sorts, so people reading this after I’m gone can see what it was like living with diabetes in the mid 20-teens.

It can’t all be seriousness and clinical thinking though. If that’s what this was about, I think I would have lost my inspiration for it a long time ago. While posts have been a little less frequent in the past year, they’ve still been regular, and that brings me to this thought:

I really, really like writing here. If you write a blog too, you might have a sense of this, but if you don’t, I don’t know if there’s a way to describe how blissful I feel every time I sit down to write something. It never seems like a chore.

This is one of the only places in my life (maybe the only place in my life) where no one can tell me what to say or how to say it. Every time I think about that, I almost get chills thinking of how absolutely free that makes me feel.

There are still many of us writing out our thoughts, educating others, and chronicling our lives online. I’m not unique. I think if you were to ask all of us for a memorable moment from blogging or other social media activism, my guess is we’d all recall something that had a direct impact on the life of one individual.

Readership at Happy Medium has gone up and down and up again over the years. I don’t pay too much attention to the stats. What I pay attention to is when I can express something that makes someone feel better, either physically or emotionally. That makes me want to come back to the keyboard and do the same for someone else, because no one should have to feel like they’re alone living with diabetes.

It’s as true as when I wrote this almost five years ago:

“If you’re only reaching one person, that one person is the most important person in the world… Your story is the most important one in the world to the person moved by it. Don’t let down the one person who needs to hear you.”

Whether you make that connection online or off, this is what makes the Diabetes Community special. Share your story. Use your freedom. Never take it for granted.

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Close encounters of the online kind.

Okay, so my offline life with diabetes doesn’t offer much interaction right now.

On the other hand, my online diabetes life is chock full of interaction.

In fact, it keeps me on my toes all the time.

I never connected with the Diabetes Community at all before finding the DOC back in 2011. Never even heard of such a thing. Now, there are many people who sort of live inside of my computer or mobile device, whom I read and trust and admire. And yes, interact with.

I write this blog for a variety of reasons. I write to add my voice to the conversation. I write to advocate so others can add their voices to the conversation. I write to inform, when I can. And often, I write just for me. Because I like to write. Because, when I’m gone, I hope to have left a sliver of what my life was like here in the 2000-teens, with Type 1 Diabetes as a constant companion.

So sometimes, I’ll write something just for my own sake, recounting things that make me happy, even if it doesn’t necessarily move the diabetes needle further toward a cure. Occasionally, in those moments when I worry that my mind will go at some point (Mr. Glass Half Empty), I take comfort in the knowledge that at least I’ll be able to go back and see who my friends were, even if I can’t remember all their names by then. I’ll just have to remember the web address. That’s what Favorites are for, I guess.

I can’t tell you how much fun I have moderating the DSMA Twitter chats every so often. Even when my brain is fried from a long, hard day at my job, in the middle of a cold, dark winter, when my day starts at 4:30 a.m. and DSMA finishes late on the east coast and I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open, I get such a kick from the thrill of a newbie’s reaction to being part of the conversation, or a timely wisecrack from a DSMA veteran (who’s also a part-time DSMA moderator).

It’s weird though. I consider most of the people I interact with online as my friends, even though I don’t know many of them all that much. When they are wronged, when people call them out online, when people try to shame or stigmatize their disease, what they’ve done or how they live their lives, I’m ready to defend them right away. Why? Because someone is trying to hurt my friends. You don’t mess with my friends.

Also, because they’ve been there for me more times than I can count.

We all engage in the ways that work best for us… or are most convenient for us. But together, all of us are part of a greater community (see what I did there?). Being part of a greater community carries with it a certain amount of responsibility. Not all of us have an equal amount of responsibility at the same time, all the time. It comes and goes, depending on a number of factors.

We also have varying amounts of opportunity, depending on a number of factors. I think of opportunity differently. When I have an opportunity to do something, I feel almost compelled to seize on it. Of course, not all opportunities are the same either. What I’m saying is, we’re faced with questions of whether to engage or not engage all the time.

It’s not about repaying a debt to the ether that I’ve somehow concocted in my mind. Again, it’s about being part of a community, being a building block of a group that makes greater things happen, not just by myself, but by holding up my part of the foundation of The House That Makes Life Better for everyone living with and affected by diabetes.

I may have more of an impact online than offline most times. That may have a lot, or very little, to do with me. But I’m happy to engage in any way I can, so all my friends living with and affected by diabetes can walk an easier path toward the future.

How is your online life different from your offline life with diabetes? Do you engage more either way? Do you like engaging more online or offline? Do you seize opportunities, online or offline, when they arise? What makes you say yes or no to these opportunities?
 
 
 

To share or not to share.

I’ve seen, heard, and read discussions lately regarding how much, if any, personal information we all like to give out online. The questions are many and varied: Do I share personal information? Personal information about family members? What about photographs? Do I want my medical team reading my blog? Or even commenting? What about company representatives from pharmaceutical and medical technology firms?

To share or not to share… That is the question. The answer is really up to you. It’s an individual decision. The right thing to do is what’s right for you. For this post, I’m going to give a little detail about sharing online, and what I share or won’t share online. Let’s take the questions above one or two at a time.
 
 
Do I share personal information? Personal information about family members?

I do share some personal information. I’m 51 years old, I live in Baltimore, I have a wife and a niece who live in the same house with me. When I have stubborn high blood glucose levels, or nasty low BGs, you can read about that too. I’ve shared details of bike rides, recipes, and my participation in a clinical trial.

But I haven’t told you everything about me, and I probably never will. There are limits to what I have chosen to talk about. Those limits have changed over time, as I’ve gotten more comfortable with what I’m letting you know, and less afraid that you know it. It seems sensible to me to be as secretive as possible at the beginning of your online story. You can always give more detail later. But once you let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, you can’t put it back in. For a long time, Maureen was just referred to as The Great Spousal Unit and Rachel was just The Live-In Niece. When I finally used their names in blog posts, I did so because I was comfortable with it… Not because I felt I needed to do so to tell a story. Also, and this is important: When I’ve talked about anyone from my personal life, I have either received permission to use their names and details of our interactions (or they were public figures already), or I have not referred to them at all. That includes my niece and my spouse.
 
 
What about photographs?

If you haven’t already, do this right now: Turn off the geotagging on your photo device. Now.

Geotagging is a way that digital photos can store, in laymen’s terms, GPS-type (metadata) information on where the photograph was taken. If the geotagging feature on your digital photo device is on, and you take a photo of your child at the pool rocking their OmniPod, and you upload it to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., people with the skills to find the geotagging can find exactly where that photo was taken. Most digital photo devices, including iPhones and iPads (sorry, I don’t know about Android or Samsung) come with the geotagging feature on as a default setting.

I love to take photos, and I love to post them online. But the geotagging is off on my pocket camera. I can’t imagine a single reason (unless I’m lost in the wilderness with cell service—and I don’t have a smart phone), why I would want to tell everyone, including potential thieves, stalkers, etc. where I am and what I’m doing. Okay, I probably won’t ever have to worry about stalkers. But you get my point, right? I don’t want to scare you. The photos are great. But don’t share the latitude and longitude of your location in the process. Want to know more? A simple Google search on “geotagging” will provide explanations, examples of geotagging used for sinister purposes, and tips on how to disable the geotagging on your device.
 
 
Do I want my medical team reading my blog? Or even commenting?

When I read my first Diabetes blog (for the record, it was textingmypancreas.com), I was overwhelmed that someone else existed who had the same experiences I had. Then almost immediately, I got jazzed up about starting my own D-blog.

Then reality set in. I’ve written before. Mostly for broadcast (news, and a lot of radio commercials), and the occasional internal company e-mail or web page. Almost always, people have wanted to edit what I write, sometimes even to the point of insisting on grammatical or spelling errors in the process (“change ‘their’ to ‘there’, and capitalize the T” is my favorite example). These people were paying me, so they had the right to ask for changes that suited them, though I draw the line at mistakes like the one above. At any rate, I really started to get uncomfortable with the idea of putting something out there again and having it whacked by readers, or worse, my employers (whom I generally do not write for). As a result, I waited for many months while I mulled over whether to go online with my story. Of course, I finally did decide to start a D-blog, and I did so by getting comfortable with a couple of notions.

One: This is my space. If you don’t like what I write, you have the right to read something else, or start your own blog. I’m not above making mistakes, and I hope that when I do, I am contrite and not bitter about reversing my viewpoint or my wording. But I’m not going to add an apostrophe to every word that ends with an S (mistake intended, in case you’re wondering).

Two: If I’m posting something on the internet, I need to understand, and be comfortable with, the fact that anyone can read it. And comment on it. Yes, my endocrinologist reads my blog. She doesn’t follow it, she’s never left a comment, and we don’t discuss it at length. But it is often an additional part of our conversation during my appointment. An example:

Dr. P: “I read about your gluten free week. How did you like that?”
Me: “It was great… really gave me an insight into the difficulties Celiacs must face when they’re diagnosed.”
Dr. P: “Are you still eating gluten free?”
Me: “Ummm…. No. But maybe I should? Would I have to adjust my basal rates?”

I did have an instance where I described a not-too-good experience related to my diabetes, and I received an e-mail about it (not from Dr. P). That e-mail made me very uncomfortable. But that feeling soon faded, as soon as I realized that the e-mail was sent out of concern for my welfare, and not meant to scold me. What I’m saying is that the discussion goes both ways. If my story is public, I need to allow for and even encourage feedback. And support anyone’s right to say anything they want about it, as long as it’s not hurting anyone.
 
 
What about company representatives from pharmaceutical and medical technology firms?

See above for my feelings on that. If we post it publicly, anyone can read or comment. But let’s face it: They’re probably out there reading our posts. Not all posts, of course. But many firms equip themselves with software that will find mention of their name or products when it’s used online. That includes Twitter. So if you’re posting a review of a new meter or CGM or insulin, and you use the company or product name, they may take a look.

I’ve never received comments directly from company representatives. But I’ve received an e-mail from an author after a book review, and a PR rep from a pharmaceutical firm after posting about their product and research. These e-mails were sent almost certainly because when I wrote about these things, I reached out to the entities themselves to let them know I was posting about their product. I wasn’t going to change what I wrote to make them happy, but I thought a heads-up on a post featuring them would be the decent thing to do.
 
 
Over the last year and a half, I’ve shared a lot about my life and what I’m up to at a given time. I’ve done it here, certainly, but I’ve also shared a lot via Twitter and Facebook. I’ve done so at an increasing, yet careful level of detail about who I am, who I interact with, and how I interact. I can’t really give advice on what you should do regarding privacy… I’m not qualified. But if I did give advice (you knew I was going there, right?), I would say: Be safe, think things through as much as possible, and try to be fair. Ask questions, get advice if you’re not sure. Try to take a long-term view of things. Will my post still be worthwhile ten years from now? And don’t be afraid. The rules of online interaction are being written while we speak. And they will be rewritten again. Don’t be afraid of the rules, but be aware of them. Your story is worth telling, no matter how you tell it.
 
 
 

Don’t miss these events!!!

Just want to ask for a couple of minutes of your time today, so I can remind you about two Must-Dos (if you Can-Do them) next week and the week after.

Monday begins the fourth annual Diabetes Blog Week, hosted by Karen Graffeo at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes. Every day from Monday through Sunday you’ll get a different subject to write about. There are also a couple of wild card subjects just in case a day’s topic leaves you stumped. Each day you’ll publish on that day’s subject, then link your post over at Karen’s.

Perhaps the best part about D-Blog Week is the fact that you’ll get to read and discover others like yourself who are out there telling their stories too. It’s a fun, eye-opening week of discovery and, of course, blogging. Don’t miss it!
http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/2013/05/diabetes-blog-week.html
 
 
The following week, on Tuesday, May 21, the first annual all-virtual Diabetes Hope Conference will take place. It all begins at Noon eastern time, 11 a.m. central, 10 a.m. mountain time, and 9 a.m. on the left coast.

They’ll be using Google Hangouts to live stream discussions between panelists. They’ll be taking questions from participants via Twitter… use the hashtag #dHopeConf. If you’re not available then, I’ve found out that it will be recorded and available later via YouTube. Panelists will include (are you ready for this?): Manny Hernandez, Emily Coles, Mike Lawson, Dr. Bruce S. Trippe, Dr. Steven Maynard, George Simmons, Kerri Sparling, and Karen Graffeo (who apparently gets one day of rest after D-Blog Week).

I’m thinking there will be a lot of super discussion involved when that group gets together. You can register for the Diabetes Hope Conference here:
http://www.diabeteshopeconference.com/

That’s it for now. I’ve got to get crackin’ on those D-Blog Week posts…

Have a great weekend!
 
 
 

Like these links.

I know I haven’t had much to say this week. I’ve been sick with that nasty chest cold that’s sweeping the east coast this month, so I’ve been trying to lay low. Just not six feet under low. As such, I thought it would be nice to share some delicacies from other parts of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community).

I’m not linking today to the posts regarding renaming Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Although I have to admit to being in the “we’d still have to explain it anyway / let’s support everyone” group, my feeling is: Feel how you want to feel about it. If you want to say you have Pancreatic Distress Syndrome or something else instead of Type 1 or Type 2, then go ahead. And if you don’t like the idea of renaming what we have, I won’t try to convince you otherwise. We’re all entitled to our opinions. Whatever they are. No exceptions.

Now that that’s out of the way, try these on for size.
 
 
Kate’s Sweet Success has a very interesting recipe for… Black Bean Chocolate Cake. It got rave reviews in her household. Are you up for the challenge? Here’s the recipe:
http://kates-sweet-success.blogspot.com/2013/04/cool-beans.html
 
 
Over at Diabetes Mine, Mike Hoskins recently did a thorough review of diabetes social media summits that take place around the country. An interesting look from an insider’s point of view:
http://www.diabetesmine.com/2013/04/whats-next-for-diabetes-social-media-summits.html
 
 
Hallie Addington at The Princess and the Pump has the details of a wonderful interview her little one conducted with Madeline Trumble, who plays Mary Poppins in the Broadway Series touring production of the musical. Madeline is also Type 1. Can’t wait to find out how the meeting turns out:
http://www.theprincessandthepump.com/2013/04/a-spoonful-of-sugar-interview-with-t1.html
 
 
Finally, at ThePerfectD, you’ll find 17 Reasons for four hypoglycemic incidences in less than 18 hours the other day. Read this when you have enough personal space to laugh out loud:
http://theperfectd.com/2013/04/11/seventeen-reasons-for-having-four/
 
 
Hope your weekend is full of wonder and devoid of angst. Enjoy!
 
 
 

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