Tag Archives: education

Please let me know if Mr. Glassman would be available for an interview.

I received an e-mail last week from a PR firm that is handling an account for CrossFit. You know, CrossFit, the company with the CEO that doesn’t seem to really know what causes diabetes. Guess what? No one does, even though it seems that CrossFit’s CEO, Mark Glassman thinks he does.

Anyway, the e-mail was in reference to a California ballot initiative that CrossFit is in favor of. Here’s the text of the e-mail:
It’s not that I don’t care about this ballot issue, because I do sort of, but that’s not what I’d really like to talk about if I were to interview Mr. Glassman. Would I really want to interview Mr. Glassman? The truth is, yes, I’d like to at least have a conversation with him. I’d like to have an honest discussion about the fitness, and diet, and how those things, or lack of those things, from a scientific perspective, do not necessarily cause or reverse diabetes.

So in reply, I sent this e-mail to the PR rep:
Erin, thank you so much for reaching out regarding this story. You may or may not be aware of this, but Mr. Glassman, CrossFit’s CEO, was especially critical of People With Diabetes in an incident earlier this year. People like me. I don’t think my blog or podcast would be a good place to discuss the ballot initiative mentioned in your e-mail, though I wish you well with it. But I would like to invite Mr. Glassman to my podcast, Diabetes By The Numbers, to talk about CrossFit and diabetes.

My goal is not to ambush Mr. Glassman, but rather have a brief (30 minutes or less) conversation about how a diabetes diagnosis cannot be traced scientifically back to diet or lack of exercise, and how a diabetes diagnosis often makes one an even tougher athlete than they were prior to diagnosis. In addition, I’d like to find some common ground where we can create a dialogue, through which CrossFit and People With Diabetes may connect and be partners for positive change, celebrating what we can do together, rather than just shouting at each other.

If you can’t arrange this, I understand. But considering the fact that I live with diabetes year round, the fact that I write a blog about diabetes, and host a podcast related to diabetes, I think you can understand why I would rather talk on this subject. Please let me know if Mr. Glassman would be available for an interview.

All the best
Stephen Shaul

There are a few reasons why I responded this way. First, we often talk about seizing the opportunity to educate those who may not understand diabetes. If I’m going to be true to that, I’m going to at least ask for the interview.

Second, maybe, not likely but maybe, we can come to some sort of understanding, some sort of mutual respect or even a path by which we can both celebrate athletes who achieve their athletic goals despite diabetes.

Third, I admit… I like the challenge of an interview like this. I’m obviously not a professional, but I like to get out of my comfort zone once in a while with an interview subject. I know something like this wouldn’t be easy, and maybe it would be a disaster. But I’d like to try anyway.

If this ever amounts to anything, I’ll let you know. My guess is it won’t. But that’s not all bad either. Sometimes you just need to ask anyway.

Back in the day.

Every once in a while I think back to the initial days before and just after my diagnosis. Dr. Mowry correctly diagnosed me with Type 1 diabetes at the end of January, 1991. After a few days in the hospital and some quick diabetes education, I was off to handle this chronic condition on my own. This recent post made me think about that diagnosis, and mostly, about my first few years living with Type 1.

One of the first things I remember thinking about diabetes was, after they gave me my dosing instructions (something like 26 units of Novolin 70/30 insulin in the morning, 22 at night), doing the quick math to determine I was going to be injecting myself 730 times every year, and 732 during leap years. That was my wake-up call… that was the first moment I knew for sure that this was different.

The diabetes educator I met with in the hospital was the first and last diabetes educator I’ve ever met with. No real reason for that, other than no one else ever said to me, “You should go see a CDE”. So I never did.

I remember getting the “five years to a cure” pep talk while I was in the hospital. I didn’t believe it. I remember giving others (mostly my Mom and the rest of the family) this tidbit of information in a sort of sound bite fashion, mostly so they didn’t worry, and so I didn’t get their pity. I still don’t know just how to handle that from people. But deep down, I knew from the beginning that my diabetes wasn’t going away. Nobody was going to be able to repair my broken pancreas.

I did read a lot about diabetes early on, to find out as much as I could about the disease. But I didn’t really know where to look for the latest about treatments, technology, and research. So, when I learned everything I thought I could learn about diabetes in general, I stopped reading. I might have picked up a JDRF or ADA publication from time to time in my doctor’s office. But how much of that can you read while you’re waiting? And when I was newly diagnosed, it didn’t occur to me to get any of that information at home. Besides, it all seemed so clinical back then. Eat right, exercise, take your insulin. Rinse, repeat. After I read that so many times, I just mentally turned it off.

I was going through a very stressful time at my job in those first few years. In a way, this was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that being so involved with work (about 60 hours per week), I didn’t have time to be angry or feel sorry for myself. I just had to move from task to task… that’s all I had time for. And therein lies the curse: Diabetes took a back seat from day one. If I was alive, I thought I was doing fine. Until my next A1c result. After the result came in, I’d feel bad for a couple of days, and then it would be forgotten until the next trip to the doctor.

Making so much time for the non-diabetes part of my life also meant that I wasn’t taking time to get up to date on drugs and therapy. I started my D-education in the hospital at diagnosis, but I didn’t get a follow up on anything for another 11 years. So, eleven years after diagnosis (2002), I was still injecting the same insulin at the same time every day, in the same amount. Regardless of my diet or level of exercise, never anything different. I knew that exercise could lower my glucose, and too much food could raise it, but it never occurred to me to make adjustments to my insulin dosage as a result of either of those. No one ever told me I could or should do that. And I couldn’t understand why my A1c was always crappy. How crazy is that?

I think I really could have used a mentor at that point in my life. I’m not sure how I would have received that mythical person then, but obviously, I know now how important a mentor can be as an educator, a cheerleader, a sounding board, and someone to help talk you off the ledge when times are tough.

Every time I think about it, I’m really blown away at my utter lack of diabetes knowledge in the first decade-plus of my journey with this condition. If you’re newly diagnosed, I hope you find that mentor. I hope you stay as up-to-date as possible on the latest medicine, therapy, technology, and research. Don’t forget that compared to your day of diagnosis, you’re pretty healthy right now, and you probably feel a lot better too. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop learning. If this old dog can learn new tricks 23 years after diagnosis, I know you can too.

Don’t forget to pay it forward. Someone out there is right where you were in those first few days or weeks or years. Help make their first few steps sturdier, easier, more sure. JDRF has a mentor program that will allow you to help newly diagnosed PWDs feel less alone. Of course, when you need help, don’t forget to reach out to someone who can help you navigate stubborn BGs and difficult emotions. We all need help from time to time. In the meantime, remember to enjoy the vibrant, fulfilling life you were always meant to live, even if diabetes won’t go away. You deserve it.

Diabetes University

The Great Spousal Unit is thinking of taking a few adult learning classes next year, and she picked up a course listing from the local community college. She knows what she wants to study, so her choices were obvious.

When I pick up a catalog like that, I can’t help but peruse the variety of classes offered by an institution. Everything from A+ Certified PC Repair Technician to Veterinary Assistant. I love reading course descriptions about HVAC repair and Kung Fu and wondering, could I really do that? Kind of like when I was a kid, looking at maps and wondering, could I go there? What would that be like? Oh hell… I still do that.

This time, as I thumbed through the courses a few things under Health, Fitness, and Wellness caught my eye. Classes like “Healing with Crystals and Gemstones”. If that’s something you’re really into, you can also take “Advanced Crystals: Healing with Crystals and Gemstones”. How about “Awaken Your Purpose Through Numerology”? My brain is filled with numbers all day already, so I’m not sure how much my purpose needs to be awakened (Awoke? Wakened? How about “Awaken Your Purpose Through Proper Grammar and Spelling”?). There’s also “Think Yourself Healthy”. That caused a V-8 slap to the forehead and an exclamation of “Whyyyy didn’t I think of that?”.

These course offerings did make me think about diabetes, though (admit it—you knew I was going there). What kind of wellness courses could be offered by People With Diabetes, for People With Diabetes?

A few of these are serious… the ones under Alternate Choices are just for fun. My apologies to anyone who may already be teaching courses like these. Honest, I’m not stealing your idea.

Serious Courses

Social Media and Diabetes – You Are Not Alone
Learn how to find online resources who are discussing subjects of particular interest to you and your diabetes. Explore real-life experiences told on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Course includes membership at TuDiabetes.org and MyGlu, as well as participation in the weekly DSMA Twitter Chat. Requirements: Internet access, empathy, and a willingness to tell your story too.

Diabetes Math 101
Learn why math is so important to managing your diabetes. Instructors will cover everything from calculating bolus amounts to determining the proper insulin to carb ratio, and how exercise and diet affect your ability to use insulin. By the end of the course, students should be able to manage glucose readings, CGM data, and pump information to help maintain an optimum balance between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL as often as possible.

Pregnancy with Diabetes
In this course, prospective mothers and fathers learn how to prepare for, and how to manage through, pregnancy with diabetes. Course includes history of diabetes/pregnancy myths (“I am not Shelby”), and why preparation and micro-managing your glucose is the key to delivering a healthy baby.


Alternate Choices

Interpreting Hypoglycemic Dreams
Our minds work overtime when we’re suffering a low, especially while sleeping. Learn from a “certified” astrologer what it means when your glucose is under 50 and you’re imagining your spouse riding a purple elephant on the wall of your living room. Course materials include a diary to log your most disturbed unconscious thoughts while you’re bottoming out.

Guide to Alternate Infusion Set/CGM Sites
Learn that your arm isn’t just for picking up your child or driving. Find out why your hips are not just for doing the salsa. Experts detail the use of those “other sites” that manufacturers and the FDA won’t tell you about. Warning: This course is not for credit. Students must sign a release exonerating the instructors and the university from all liability before starting class.

Mastering Glucose Food Enemies (Foodemies?)
We all have those foods that are so yummy, yet so crummy to our BGs. Students in this class will learn the basics of the square wave, dual wave, and super bolus. Begin to get the upper hand on foods like pizza, ice cream, and more. As always, moderation is key. Final class includes cupcakes! Prerequisite: Diabetes Math 101.


Okay, now it’s your turn. What are some of the course offerings you’d like to see at Diabetes University?

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