Friday Happenings.

Happy Friday everyone!  I don’t know about you but I’m hoping the day goes by quickly so that the weekend can begin 😉  I just wanted to take a few minutes to share some things that are going on in the diabetes community or coming up before we know it!

First off, tomorrow, August 25th, marks the two year anniversary of this here blog.  I cannot believe that two years has gone by already.  I’ve enjoyed writing and sharing very much over the past two years and I hope my contribution to the diabetes community has proved useful for others.  Thank you so very much to my readers, old and new, for making it what it is today.

Tomorrow is also HFCS-Free day.  Leighann from D-Mom Blog proposes that we take tomorrow to make a conscious effort to avoid any food containing HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).  I have more recently become aware of how many foods containing this ingredient and try to avoid it as much as possible.  Mayo Clinic lists some of the possible adverse side effects.  I think it’s a great idea and you can read more about it here at her blog.

Second, in just one month, Diabetes Art Day 2012 will take place.  This initiative was started by my friend Lee Ann in 2010 to create opportunities for people all around the diabetes community to share their story of life with diabetes though creative visual expression.  It is fun!  And easy too.  All you have to do is create any kind of artwork that reflects your diabetes life and share it on the Diabetes Art Day website, Twitter, Facebook, with your loved ones, etc.  Go ahead and put your thinking caps on!

Thirdly, World Diabetes Day is coming up as well, in November.  Another initiative spearheaded by Lee Ann is the WDD Postcard Exchange.  This was started last year in an effort to connect people with diabetes all over the world and raise awareness during Diabetes Awareness Month.  Another fun and easy event, all you do is register on the site, wait to be emailed your recipient’s mailing information, make a wonderful postcard, send it to your recipient and wait to receive one in the mail as well.  Registration is now open for 2012 so head on over to the site and sign up!

Fourthly (is that a word??), Kerri hosted a great post from Harry yesterday about his new adventure of starting a new chapter of InsulinDpendence in Charleston, NC.  If you haven’t heard of them, they are a large (and still growing) group of people who inspire people with diabetes to set personal fitness goals, educate on adaptive management strategies through experience and equip to explore individual capacities.  Pretty cool considering a lot of medical professionals out there do not know how to advise patients on that sort of thing.  I had the privilege of meeting some members of the organization in the winter at the JDRF Research Summit.  Wonderful, inspiring people.  If you’re in the Charlotte area and are interested in helping Harry get a new chapter off the ground, email him at CLT.Insulindependence@gmail.com.

Last but not least, Manny has already begun promoting the 2012 Big Blue Test effort that will be announced in October.  Between 2010 and 2011 more than 10,000 people participated in testing their BG, getting active for 14-20 minutes, then testing BG again.  This raises awareness of the positive effect physical activity has on diabetes management.  This year, they are hoping to make the effort even bigger, with Roche Diabetes Care sponsoring the Big Blue Test once again, to help touch even more lives.  So be on the look out for the official announcement and don’t forget to get your big blue test on!

I hope the weekend is a great one for everyone 🙂

Logging Made Easier.

If there is one thing I do not do well as a person living with diabetes, it is logging.  Anything.  When I see my endocrinologist every 3-4 months I just download my BG readings from my meter(s) for the past 30 days, print it out and present it to her.  She is fine with that.  When I see my CDE however (alternating between her and the endo), we go over my readings in more detail.  Since she has the “clinical” software in the office, she downloads both my Omnipod PDM and my Dexcom data.  The one thing that is helpful for these appointments with M is to keep track of events such as food intake, exercise, illness etc.  Sad as it may be, there is no way I can remember what I ate or how I felt last week!  So I usually log these things for about a week prior to my appointment.  What I’ve been doing for the longest time is keeping a self made Excel spreadsheet with this information on it.

My next appointment with M is next week so it dawned on me that I needed to start logging.  However I was frustrated with the good ol’ Excel file and was trying to find another app available to keep track of such info whether on my iPhone or on the web.  Since I already have a few diabetes related apps on my phone, I did some scrutinizing.  It turns out that the iBGStar app is working well!  (side note: I do have the meter but do not currently use it)  It is still a form of data entry since I’m really only entering information when I eat or exercise or don’t feel well but it’s easier for me to use since believe it or not, I am not always near an Excel workbook.  The key to entering the actual food I am eating, and not just that I ate fatty food or miscalculated carbs, was to add a new note.  The option is already there to add BG, amount of carbs and amount of insulin.

I especially like the way it is presented in the report when you compose data to send via email.  Now I am not sure I will actually email her my logbook since that office is anti-email unfortunately but I can at least print it out for her.

I remember the days of having to write down my BG readings before a doctor appointment.  I do not want to go back to those days.  Ever.  Having apps like these is extremely helpful.  Especially for someone like me who hates logging with a passion and will find every excuse not to do it.  Now if only I was able to email the health care providers in the office I go to.

Giveaway Winner.

There were 7 commenters willing and eligible to be entered into the “drawing” for the meter giveaway.

20120809-215630.jpg

The winner of the Accu-chek Nano meter is: T1!! Congratulations!! Please send me an email at staceydblog@gmail.com with your address so that I can ship it to you. I hope you like it 🙂

20120809-215847.jpg

Roche Summit Part 3. Advocacy.

This post is probably the most difficult to write and I think the most important – finding the right words to describe something as elaborate and essential as diabetes advocacy can be challenging.

First off, being among some of my diabetes family on the 9th anniversary of my father’s passing (due to diabetes complications) was surreal. Here I was, in a room full of 30+ others whose lives are touched by diabetes and representatives of a company whose aim is to make those lives easier. A connection that I didn’t know existed just 9 years ago. Something that was totally unimaginable during his time I’m sure. I couldn’t help but reflect on how things could have turned out differently for him had support like this existed.

Rob and Todd presented to us the Welcome to Type 1 video. If you have not yet seen this video, watch it. It so precisely portrays how attitude has everything to do with how to best cope with living with something like diabetes. It also illustrates how diabetes, unlike other chronic health conditions, leaves most of the care to the patients and not the healthcare providers. For this very reason, it becomes crucial for the patients themselves to advocate for the rights and well being of people living with diabetes. What is advocacy? By definition, health advocacy supports and promotes patient’s health care rights as well as enhances community health and policy initiatives that focus on the availability, safety and quality of care. I don’t see myself as an innovator in the diabetes community. I do not come up with the exceptional ideas that others do or write remarkable books. But I do love to help collaborate on initiatives, provide my extra supplies to those who need it more than me, spread the word of current or future events, connect people, fundraise and donate to diabetes organizations, help introduce new products, share my own story and of course retweet 😉 By doing these things I can achieve forms of advocacy.

Hearing Josh say that “everyone has a bomb in their life that goes off at some point” and “it’s therapeutic to give back” couldn’t have been said better. For most of us, the bombs are the daily struggles of diabetes. For a lot of us, we consider social media a form of therapy. He thanked us for what we do. For providing advice on the little daily things of living with diabetes to people who have questions. For letting others know that normal may not be what you think. For showing that living with diabetes is hard but moving forward is important. When I get emails or comments from readers thanking me for a particular post or telling me that my father would be proud of me for my actions, it touches my heart with a sense of accomplishment. I reached someone and hopefully made a difference to them.

Yes, Roche initiated a gathering of diabetes online community members to discuss how to fill the gap between patient needs and their own company’s contributions.  Did they do it lavishly?  Sure.  Were all the extras completely necessary?  Of course not.  But regardless of how lavish the locations are,  these opportunities are invaluable to help us communicate what is important as a strong group.   However, even without these summits, we are still needed to tell the public just what diabetes is all about. To bust the myths that are endless. To fight for more affordable supplies. To let people all over the world know that they are not alone and you can do this. We are the experts.

Roche Summit Part 2. Technology.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the trip to Indianapolis was the opportunity to visit and see firsthand Roche’s main campus, including their Research and Development area and the test strip manufacturing plant.  Seeing before my own eyes how much equipment and effort goes into making Accu-chek test strips was mind boggling.  Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of their production – there are 100,000 vials of 50 test strips manufactured in just one lot.  200 vials per minute are packaged for different countries.  Whoa.  And that is just one test strip manufacturer.  Imagine putting them all together?!  Our tour guide mentioned that the motto in the plant is that “every strip counts”.  I like that.  With how valuable and critical test strip results are, it was good to hear and I hope that all involved take it that seriously.

We also got to hear from some of Roche’s executives on the current and future state of their diabetes technology.  Believe it or not (and I’ll take their word for it) there are 180 companies involved with diabetes technology in one way or another.  180!  They want to make products more useful with integration which was reassuring since isn’t that what we all want?  But it is a work in progress.  And with the FDA seemingly so slow with approving diabetes devices, we have to do our part as patients to assist all pharma companies in dealing with the FDA by voicing our opinions and providing feedback whenever possible.  Their new Combo insulin pump system was discussed and October of this year looks to be when it will be available here in the US.  They shared some upcoming products with us so it looks like they will be busy for some time.

Now to the fun part.  I was given an Accu-chek Nano meter from Roche.  Since I already have one (why yes I do tend to get myself the latest and greatest diabetes equipment!) I would love to give this new one to one of my readers.  To be fair, all attendees from the Social Media Summit will not be eligible.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I will use one of those handy-dandy random number generators to pick the winner and will announce it here on Friday.    The deadline to participate is Thursday, August 9th at noon EST.  It comes with 10 Smartview test strips and the new FastClix lancet device if you haven’t tried that yet.  It is a nice little meter and I really like it but if I’m going to be honest, two things hold me back from using it as my primary meter – lack of a port light where you insert the strips and the batteries it uses (CR2032).  Good luck!!