Tag Archives: diabetes blogs

5 Years. What now?

Over the weekend, I woke up and realized two things. Number one: I’m another year older. Number two: This blog is officially five years old.

This gives me pause, because of something I’ve been keeping (mostly) to myself all this time.

When I started writing here, I decided that I would just keep it going as long as I wanted to write. After all, this has always been part advocacy/part diabetes news/part personal diabetes journal. Then, when things got rolling a bit and it looked like it might be around for a while, I set an internal goal to keep going until I hit five years or 1,000 blog posts.

For the record, I’m at a little over 700 blog and podcast posts to this point. But I have definitely hit the five year mark. I’ve always known this couldn’t last forever. What do I do?

Now I’m at least forced to think about this thing… the end of this thing. After all, you can cover a lot in five years. The Dick Van Dyke Show lasted five seasons, and they had a pretty good run.

So have I, for that matter. I’ve told more stories and seen and covered more developments in diabetes, good and bad, than I would have ever guessed I would five years ago. I’ve tried to be as supportive as I can, while maintaining a fair amount of skepticism regarding the motives of researchers and industry executives. I’ve tried to retain my outrage for things that really matter. As you can imagine, the last five months or so have made that a challenging task.

Is this blog still relevant? Was it ever relevant? These are questions I’m asking myself.

I think I started this blog right at a time when many people flexed from just reading blogs to writing them too. Many diabetes blogs sprung up in the same year that mine did. Some are still around; some are not. Out of everyone who started a diabetes podcast three years ago, I think I was the last. Blogging is still relevant, definitely. And really, I just love podcasting. As for my blog and the podcast… well, I’m relevant to me. How’s that for self serving? I really hope I’ve been relevant to others as well.

When there’s a big development in the diabetes community, I’m rarely the first one to post something about it. Hey, I have a full time day job, you know? Bills are relevant too. When I’m not the first to tell a story, I try to really consider the subject at hand and write carefully, choosing to inform, agitate when necessary, and sometimes twist your head around to focus on something you might not have considered before.

I’ve been lucky enough to be in industry sponsored meetings, at symposia, and at FDA. I’ve attended many conferences and UnConferences, and written about them all. Not all of these events were specifically diabetes-related. It was a privilege to cover all of them. I’ve also been around just long enough now to see new faces in these gatherings, and I have to say that it’s very gratifying to know that there are many passionate advocates out there, learning, and possibly surpassing, anything I’ve ever done. I never worry about what I cannot get to. It’s both a sad and wonderful thing that there are far less spaces for advocates at these things than there are advocates to fill those spaces.

Speaking of advocacy, there has been a lot of it over these last five years. Participation in community initiatives like Strip Safely, and volunteering for Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. Speaking at an FDA workshop on the importance of improving the landscape on interoperative devices. Speaking April 1st at the March for Health in Washington. Still, I wonder if I’m really a good advocate, or if I’m not as great as I’m making it sound. Despite how wimpy that last sentence sounds, I think it’s good that I question myself on this from time to time.

Photo courtesy of Bennet Dunlap

There are things I’ve written about that I haven’t posted. If you see me in person, ask me about a New York Times reporter referring to diabetes devices like insulin pumps as gadgets in a front page story. My answer might surprise you. Or ask about the amazing health initiative in Las Vegas that I visited back in 2015. I was so impressed, but haven’t been able to publish that one yet.

And boy, have I had some awful blog posts. A review of sugar free Peeps? I hate marshmallow, which is why I had family and friends taste test them. That’s something that should have never been published.

On the other hand, there have been wonderful moments, like when I wrote a sort of love letter to the Diabetes Online Community. That is still the most viewed thing I’ve ever published. And OMG, we’ve given away over 80 Champion Athletes With Diabetes medals. Do you want to feel good? Reward someone for their hard work.

And there have been some personal posts here too, usually from vacation, and the occasional recipe. I’m trying to perfect a couple of new recipes, and if they turn out well, you can bet I’ll share them here. Life can’t be all basals and boluses, right?

So yes, in the end, I’m going to keep writing. I know I have more to say, more to cover. No more goals, though if I reach 1,000 blog posts I’ll likely go through this exercise again. At the rate I’m going, I have over two years to go to get there.

Also, and this is important: I know it sounds hokey, but I can’t wrap this up without thanking all of the wonderful people who have commented, given me encouragement, informed me about what I got right and what I got wrong, and made me feel like this whole exercise has been more than worth it. Thanks to the people who felt that telling their story to me was worth it to them. Thank you to our Champion Athletes With Diabetes medal winners who inspire me always.

Our lives, and our lives with diabetes, are not all the same. I’m a true believer in the notion that our diversity makes us stronger. Thank you for looking in on my life with diabetes for five years. I hope to continue to be worthy of your attention for the foreseeable future.

#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.

Mostly, I’m grateful.

When I started this endeavor almost three years ago, I didn’t know if I would make it to five blog posts, much less five hundred. I knew from previous experience that I could write 500 different things, so durability wasn’t an issue. The real question was, would I even want to write as many as five hundred? Of course, I also wondered from time to time whether anyone would be interested in reading even one thing I might want to write about. For the record, I still ask myself those questions.

When I started Happy Medium, I had three ideas in mind. I refer you to my original post for the actual wording…

1. Stay humble. Don’t try to be a rock star. This rule is mostly so I can remind myself that no matter how big success is, it never seems to be enough. There really is a lot of truth and solace to be found in just doing the best you can. I do this for others and for me. It’s not my job. Keeping all this in mind frees me to write from the heart, and write the truth too.

2. Try to help where I can. It’s no secret that there’s a lot of need in the Diabetes Community. What’s the sense in being part of a community if you don’t contribute to it?

3. Enjoy the process. I love to write, and the idea that I can share information, tell my story, and advocate for others living with or affected by diabetes makes me feel more engaged, more useful.

How am I doing with all of those? The easy way out would be for me to say it’s up to you, the reader, to decide. But if I’m being honest with myself, I think I’m doing okay on Number 1, I could do more on Number 2, and Number 3? I still need to loosen up a bit. Trust me, I am working on it. I think the best way to describe it is to say that I’m content, but despite my best efforts, there are days when the unbridled enthusiasm for life I felt some years ago still eludes me. I haven’t yet figured out why.

I will admit that sometimes (like in this post and my previous one) I write primarily for myself. Fortunately, no one has castigated me for it yet. Some things I’ve been involved in have been great, like two different D Blog Check-in days, three different editions of Diabetes Blog Week, my attendance at the Manning Diabetes Symposium in 2013, and an FDA workshop last November. Other things haven’t worked out as well as I’d hoped, like when I went through JDRF mentor training two and a half years ago, only to be asked to mentor no one because people my age are almost never diagnosed with Type 1. I still get an occasional e-mail asking me to volunteer to be a mentor, and it’s kind of depressing.

I truly felt honored to participate in clinical trials over the past two years, and our Champion Athletes With Diabetes medals have been given to 26 brave souls so far. Each one of those stories warms my heart. In each letter I receive, I’m touched by how much people feel inside about something they are physically involved in.

In addition to writing, I love to cook too, and I’ve been able to post a few recipes. One of my most interesting learning experiences involved writing about living gluten free for a week as though I were newly diagnosed with celiac disease (for the record, I do not live with celiac).

I think it’s safe to say that all of these experiences, and so many more, would not have happened without first having learned as much as I have from others who also write about diabetes and advocate for others while living with this condition.

I have learned a lot through this experience. I’ve managed to embarrass myself once or twice. I’ve had the typical highs and lows. I’ve tried to be fair. I have also managed (crossing my fingers) to avoid some of the trolls who have been a pain to some of my other blogging friends.

What I don’t want to do is hang on too long. After 35 years or so, I want to continue to learn and grow as a writer, because I am totally self-taught, this is my first experience writing on the internet, and I’m sure there is much that I don’t know. If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.

But I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing. I’m not closing up this blog just yet. But I’m thinking about it. Honestly, I always think about it. I think it’s right to examine what you’re doing from time to time, ask yourself whether you’re meeting your goals, and whether it really means anything at all. If I write for one more week or one more decade, I will probably continue to do this.

Mostly, I’m grateful that people engage with me through this medium honestly, sharing their feelings without reservation. I could and would still write without any feedback, but knowing you care about things as deeply as you do humbles me. So often, you make me want to be like you.

And if you’re out there thinking about telling your story, through a blog or Facebook or Twitter or some other avenue, my advice is: Yes, absolutely, do it. You will find it rewarding and cathartic. Like I said over a year and a half ago,
Your story is the most important one in the world to the person who is moved by it. Don’t let down the one person who needs to hear you.

I’m satisfied with my first 500 blog posts. But the fire in my belly says that I want to make each one from this point forward better than ever. Here’s to another… one, in a couple of days.

#dblogcheck – It’s baaaack.

Here we are… it’s another D-blog Check-In Day.

Christopher Snider, author at A Consequence of Hypoglycemia, and moderator at the Just Talking Podcast, and also the originator of last year’s edition, has designated today as the day for all of us to leave a comment on each and every blog we visit.

Last year on #dblogcheck day I wrote about the importance of telling your story, being that hand that reaches out into the abyss to pull someone in and make them feel less alone. Today I’d like to talk about the importance of leaving comments.

If you write, think about what it was like the first couple of times you received a comment from someone. Anyone. It meant a lot, didn’t it? It was an instant measure of readership, to begin with. You were no longer posting your thoughts to an empty internet. That measure of validation, that show of support, that initial connection… it’s special.

It’s just as special to someone who’s been writing for some time and wonders if the community has somehow lost track of them. Leaving a note at the bottom of someone’s heartfelt blog post promotes a greater sense of community among all of us. We know the writer is special. I, for one, don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell them.

I started writing in this space about two and a half years ago. Since then, more and more diabetes blogs have popped up from writers all over the world. Those writers deserve just as much (or more) support than I’ve received.

But you know what that means: More writers = more comments.

I know that sounds difficult for some, and I understand… I do. I’ve heard a lot of “My time is so limited” and “I can never think of anything good to say”. I guess what I’m saying is I feel a sort of responsibility to support writers who share their personal stories in a way that challenges me to think more and feel things more deeply. Why? Because I want them to continue writing.

I should also talk about what it means for me to leave a comment on someone else’s blog. I look at this differently than most, perhaps. But to be honest, leaving comments makes me feel better. I didn’t come by this naturally. But I’ve found that it’s great therapy for me.

Especially when I’m feeling down, or when I’m experiencing trouble either within or outside of the diabetes community, as soon as I leave a little comment somewhere, I nearly instantly start to feel better inside. Even when I’m tired and I can’t think of anything witty to say.

So I’ll conclude by first reminding you to leave a comment wherever you visit today. Share your favorites via Twitter using the hashtag #dblogcheck. And second, think about using this day as encouragement to comment more. None of us has the market cornered on great writing (especially me). What you can do is help deliver that measure of validation, and remind someone that what they have to say is really important. It really is, isn’t it?

Finally, I want to ask a favor. I have a confession to make: I haven’t really discovered a lot of new d-blogs lately (this is my time-constraint problem). If you’ve found a blog that you really like, and you can’t think of anything else to say, just say “Check” and leave the address of yours or someone else’s blog below.

And since I haven’t mentioned it for a while… Thank you so much for reading!

Here they are: June 2014 Best of the ‘Betes Blogs!

I’m thrilled and honored to be bringing you the June Best ‘Betes Blogs. Due to Sara’s travel itinerary and my hyping MasterLab this week, it’s taken a while to go through all of the amazing writing around the DOC last month. Sorry about that.

Now, without further ado, let me reach into my specially-constructed stainless steel vault and reveal this month’s best:
Best Use of Humor:
“You know what it means to have “bloused” before a meal, and you’ve likely done it yourself.”
Best Vlog:
“If you develop diabetes-related complications, it’s not a mark of failure.”
Best Use of Photography
I’m going to expand this category to include Best Infographic:
Has sent the Diabetes Australia Language Position Statement to approximately 345,000 journalists and health professionals
Best Advocacy
“…as far as I’m concerned, the diabetes online community made an excellent first impression.”
Best Reference to a D-Celebrity
““Me too!!!” I said with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever had in verifying that I have a broken pancreas.”
Best Story of a D-Meetup
“Here’s to cross-cultural d-adventures!”
Best non-D Related Post
“Once, when I was young I was sitting on the couch with my mom, leaning very close to her, when I suddenly burst out laughing. She was perplexed. Nothing funny had happened. When she asked, it turned out that I had been close enough that I had seen her blink. It was the first time in my life I’d seen someone blink, and the fluttering eyelid seemed hilarious to me.”
Best Post by a Type 1 (Soooo many great T1D posts this month!)
“Have been awake for almost 22 hours straight. Exhausted. It all comes crashing down. 35 years and I am scared out of my mind of diabetes.”
Best Post by a Type 2
“Maybe someday we can laugh at the idea that there used to be a thing called diabetes. Then we can lighten up.”
Best Post by a Type Awesome
The Five Stages to an unplanned set change
Best Story of a D-Mistake
“The bottle that only an hour earlier I was cursing, was now my salvation.”
Best Motivational Post
“that’s why people with diabetes are work work workin’ to contribute to the diabetes online community.”
Best Diabetes Art
“I Have always found that the most incredible things happen right in our own back yard.”
Best Comment
“Suesflash!” (from Kelly at Diabetesaliciousness)
Here is the text to use to get your button:

Replace all [ ] with > <:
[div align=”center”][a href=”http://www.bestofthebetesblogs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”][img src=”http://momentsofwonderful.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/bbblogo-final-e1309479808835.png”%5D%5B/a%5D%5B/div%5D

It will look like this:

While I’m at it, let me also pass along congratulations to 2 special bloggers who were nominated and had memorable headlines of their own this month:
Thank you to all those who nominated posts this month and congratulations to those who were nominated!











There were so many fantastic blog posts to read this month. Hosting was a lot more difficult than I could have imagined. Remember: If you read something that moves you, leave a comment supporting the writer. And don’t forget to nominate it for Best of the ‘Betes Blogs!

You can nominate a post in three ways:

1. Send an e-mail to bestbetesblogs[at]gmail[dot]com. Be sure to include a link to the post you’re nominating.

2. Via Twitter, send a Direct Message to @bestbetesblogs. Be sure to include a link to the post you’re nominating.

3. Go old school and complete the online form located here. Be sure to include a link to the post you’re nominating.
Sara, I hope I got everything right this time.

Thanks for reading… enjoy your weekend!

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