Tag Archives: social media

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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The Facebook Group phenomenon.

I’ve been added to about seven different Facebook groups lately (no, wait– it’s actually eight). All are diabetes or health care advocacy related. Is it me, or is this becoming a thing?

Sometimes, it’s because I’m attending or have attended a conference, and the organizers created a FB group for it. Others have been due to something common that the group’s creator wants to share and have shared within their group.

When I’m added to a group, I get a little imposter syndrome, like I do with nearly everything else. Why do they want me in their group? But I get over it kinda quickly. Then I’m left with: do I participate, lurk, or ignore it altogether?

I’m a Facebook user and have been for years, but I think it’s safe to say that I consume a lot more content than I produce. So already, I’m mostly on the lurking side.

Not that I’m shy online. But I’m careful about my online (and offline) reputation, and that makes me careful about saturating the internet with things that I might be embarrassed about sharing in years to come. So I err on the side of caution.

Plus, I look at FB groups with the same lens as I look at individual FB users… all of them are different. They have different focuses, and they appeal to different constituencies. Nothing wrong with that. I see that as something that makes the overall Facebook community better.

But when I consider posting to a FB group, I take into account the things that make that group unique. And with so many different groups covering so many different topics, I feel like posting to each one would mean I’d have to turn on a different personality each time I post to another group’s feed. That’s a lot of work for something that’s supposed to be fun. I just want to be me… be authentic.

I also have to manage my settings, every time I’m added to a group. Do I want notifications? Which notifications? Do I want to add the group as a favorite? Do I want to leave the group entirely? That’s extra work too.

I like being a part of these groups. I want to hear what people have to say about a topic. Sometimes I learn something new. It’s always worth hearing another perspective on something that I have in common with the users in these groups. Once in a while, I have something important to say too.

However, I have a high regard for people, individual people that I can have a one-on-one connection with. And when half of my personal FB feed contains posts from users, and half are from groups, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the Facebook Group phenomenon has reached its zenith (a zenith is a peak– really, I just wanted to use the words hyperbole and zenith in the same sentence). Or I need some new Facebook friends. Recommendations are welcome.

Nevertheless, keep creating those Facebook groups, people. It may not seem like I’m there all the time, but I’ll be reading. Good luck.

Disappointed.

That moment when someone who’s inspired you turns out to be a jerK? I experienced that this week.

There’s a doctor in Las Vegas, who goes by the moniker ZDoggMD online. He’s gotten a lot of notoriety over the years, been on cable television news, recorded videos, and basically, developed a significant social media following. I’m not going to go into too much detail… in my opinion, he doesn’t deserve any more help than he already has.

So why am I writing about him then? I think I need to get this off of my chest.

I saw Dr. Zubin Damania deliver the keynote address at the initial HealtheVoices Conference two years ago. I was inspired by how he seemed to take a different approach to health care, and how to deliver the important messages that patients needed to hear.

I’m a big fan of Turntable Health, the health care initiative he got off the ground in downtown Las Vegas with the help of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. After seeing Dr. Damania speak in 2015, I made an appointment to tour Turntable Health when I was in Vegas the following March. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the story I wrote about my tour published; I couldn’t get my facts double checked by the staff there, and I didn’t feel it was right to publish something that might not be entirely accurate. But I was very impressed by Turntable Health, and by Dr. Z, as the staff there refers to him.

Fast forward to this week. Using his ZDogg online persona on Twitter and Instagram, he posted a photo designed to shame and guilt People With Diabetes. It was remarkably horrible. It was junior high school level crass.

Cue the immediate backlash from the diabetes community. Many advocates stepped forward to voice their disapproval. Reaction was swift, and at times, it was pretty intense. Which elicited responses from Dr. Z himself.

Later, he took to Facebook Live, along with a couple of friends (or employees or accolytes or something), and he tried to explain the posting. He went to great lengths to explain that he was only reposting an existing meme. Yeah, that makes it aaalll better.

He complained a lot about Type 1s and how they were overly sensitive, and how this post had nothing to do with them, and how it was really directed at Type 2s. At the end of the video, he deleted the post, and then mocked deleting the post, both at the end of the video and afterward in comments on the video.

It’s easy to get angry about behavior like this. It attempted to shame People With Diabetes… ALL People With Diabetes. It allowed people to laugh at those living with a chronic condition they will have to live with the rest of their lives. It gave voice to countless medical professionals who believe the message in his post is the proper way to treat People With Diabetes.

In addition to violating the sensitivities of everyone who believes in treating others with common decency, Dr. Damania violated two of the most important tenets of internet communication:

1. Consider carefully all the implications of what you’re posting, before you post.
It’s like salt in your stew: you can always add more, but it’s really hard to take any away.

2. You can almost never recover your reputation by complaining about the people you’ve already offended.
It’s the social media equivalent of kicking someone when they’re down. It confirms your status as the bully.

I’ve posted things I’ve had to take back. At one point or another, just about everyone does. In fact, two of the most difficult things for me are to apologize for posting something that bothered someone else; and to be happy for people who get to experience things I’ve always wanted to experience.

Those things are hard for me to do, but the difficulty I have with them is no excuse not to do them. In my case, I must express these things exactly when they will mean the most. Even when I’m not sure how sorry I am that I bothered someone, or I’m not sure how happy I am for someone else.

It’s not important how I feel about those things. It’s important how they feel about those things.

There are gray areas in reacting to social media backlash too. But what I’ve seen through this episode… from the original post, to the hurtful comments from others who chose to Do No Harm by becoming healthcare professionals, to leaving the post up and letting animosity boil until deleting the post toward the end of a less than sincere video rant… shows me that for Dr. Z, there is no gray area. He didn’t leave himself any.

If you know me, you know I’m the kind of person who tries to consider all sides of an issue before saying anything about it. I admit it… I was inspired by Dr. Z previously, and I wanted to believe he would act with compassion, if not empathy in this matter. I not only wanted to believe he would, I wanted him to act with compassion so I could believe in him again.

Which leads me to my final piece of social media wisdom: It’s okay to be unhappy. Bitterness? You own your bitterness yourself.

You have to live with your bitterness. You have to live with the cause of it. You can’t escape it without contrition.

Will I have more to say about this? Probably, in another form, in another venue. Truly, I am disappointed. I want to laud Dr. Damania, and I want to celebrate his successes. After this week, however, I find myself fearing for his patients, and fearing for the patients and acquaintances of those he has influenced.

T2 Series: Mark your calendar.

Hey, did you know that TuDiabetes has a super live interview series? Every week, they’re interviewing someone new, talking about subjects that we all care deeply about.

During the month of October, TuDiabetes’ live events will focus on Type 2 Diabetes, featuring guests who really know what they’re talking about.
type2-live-series
Yesterday’s guest was journalist and author Gary Taubes, whose books Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, and Good Calories, Bad Calories (also known as The Diet Delusion in the UK) are widely read. He’s also co-founder of the not-for-profit Nutrition Science Initiative. In addition, he’s recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, and he’s won a boatload of awards for his journalism.

Did you miss this interview? It’s okay. TuDiabetes will be posting a copy of the interview shortly, so you can watch it whenever you want. Isn’t technology great?
 
 
On October 7, TuDiabetes welcomes Susan Guzman, co-founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. It’s the first non-profit organization devoted to the emotional and behavioral aspects of living with diabetes. By trade, she’s a clinical psychologist specializing in diabetes. Her main focus is on overcoming emotional challenges that interfere with managing your diabetes on a daily basis.

They’re going to be talking about dealing with and overcoming the stigma that people try to lay on Type 2s on a regular basis. This should be a really interesting talk, and I, for one, cannot wait to hear it.
 
 
On October 13, Ansley Dalbo will be welcomed to TuDiabetes to talk about DiabetesWhatToKnow, a great resource for Type 2s who are just getting started in their life with diabetes, or are looking for a little more information to help them manage their Type 2 lives better from here on out.
 
 
On October 15, noted Type 2 and major advocate Bennet Dunlap will appear, talking about the recent launch of Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, and how each of us can take a hand in carving out a better life for everyone living with diabetes.
 
 
And Mike Durbin will be on! The author of My Diabetic Heart will stop by on October 22 to talk about living with Type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure. Shame isn’t a part of his repertoire, and I’m thinking he might have some great advice for you and me too. This one has been already marked on my calendar.
 
 
Pretty good lineup, no? Want to be in on the happenings? Good. Here’s what you do:

CLICK HERE for a quick look at the calendar of events. Want to find out more about a topic? Click on the event. Can’t be more simple than that.
 
 
Hey, I’m not a Type 2, but I could stand to learn an awful lot about my brothers and sisters who are living with a type that’s not my own. Join TuDiabetes for the innovative T2 Series, and for heaven’s sake, be part of the discussion, learning, and empowerment that comes from being a member at TuDiabetes.
 

What does that mean, anyway?

After my interview with Rick Phillips for TuDiabetes Tuesday, I took some time to reflect on what we discussed. There were a lot of acronyms in there: CGM, DSMA, and a couple of others I can’t remember right now.

You can probably relate to this when I tell you: Before I found the Diabetes Online Community, I had absolutely no idea what those things meant. Or even that they existed.

Those of us that have been communicating about diabetes for some time, even people like me with just a high school education and a few years’ experience writing about diabetes, tend to shorten our words an awful lot sometimes. On one hand, that’s just the nature of communication these days. Why write out “been there, done that” on your phone when you can just tap out “BTDT”?

On the other: If you’re new, and all this is new to you, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. I wonder sometimes if we lose people with our thorough knowledge and discussion of the A1cs and BGs. I don’t think so, at least not all the time. But sometimes I worry that while I’m trying to make a point about IOB, or CDEs very quickly, I make it so quick that it’s easy to lose someone on the outside of the conversation, knowledge-wise. I don’t ever want to do that.

So if you ever see something I write, or hear something I say, and it doesn’t make sense to you, I hope you’ll ask me for an explanation. You deserve that.

And if you don’t want to ask me for an explanation, guess what? TuDiabetes is an amazing source of information. They even have this Diabetes Terminology Glossary that explains just about everything you’ll ever want to know about the acronyms that power our diabetes discussions.

I admit it: I’m a diabetes acronym-dropper. But don’t let it rattle you. And in the words of Bennet Dunlap, LYMI.
 
 
CGM: Continuous Glucose Monitor

DSMA: Diabetes Social Media Advocay (the #DSMA Twitter chat is every Wednesday at 9:00 ET)

DOC: Diabetes Online Community

A1c: According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), “The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. The A1C test is the primary test used for diabetes management and diabetes research.”

BG: Blood Glucose

IOB: Insulin On Board (the insulin still active in the body at any given time)

CDE: Certified Diabetes Educator

LYMI: Love Ya, Mean It.