Big Blue Test.

One of the things that I struggle most with in terms of my health and(or) diabetes management is consistent exercise.  Usually I do well for a few weeks then work hours are longer or I have more things to do and I get off track.  I’ve made a promise to myself recently that I am going to make it a priority in my life no matter what.  What helps me a lot to stay motivated honestly is support and inspiration of others.  When I see someone post about working out or read about the accomplishments of athletes living with diabetes or pass by someone who is running or riding a bike in my neighborhood, I want to get active.

That is why I love the Big Blue Test.  It is a movement started by the Diabetes Hands Foundation in 2010, to help promote the positive affect physical activity has not only on a person with diabetes’ blood sugar, but on everyone’s health in general.  It is so simple.  All you have to do is test your blood sugar, exercise for at least 14 minutes, test your blood sugar again and log it over at http://www.bigbluetest.org.  Those people without diabetes can participate also, just minus the blood sugar readings part.  The best part is this:  if 20,000 entries are logged by November 14th, Roche will donate $100,000 to organizations that will provide life saving diabetes supplies to those who need it the most.

I know together, we can achieve this goal and help those less fortunate than us while helping ourselves stay healthy.  I’ve logged my Big Blue Test three times already this week.  Have you?

Giveaway Winner.

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

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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 🙂

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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!!

Roche Summit Part 1. Overall Impression.

It’s been three days since I returned from the 2012 Roche Social Media Summit in Indianapolis and I’ve been thinking a lot since. It was an experience with a lot to digest. I think there may be some notion that the diabetes summits held by companies like Roche are nothing but fun and games and hanging out. Before attending, I honestly never thought that. But after being an attendee, I can say it’s certainly not all play and no work. The first morning being in the meeting room, I looked around and saw everyone at their respective table, iPad or laptop at their fingertips, taking notes, tweeting to their followers, sharing what was being learned. Most importantly, taking the summit seriously. Monday was the only full day however activities did begin Sunday evening and lasted throughout Tuesday afternoon. There was a lot packed into less than 48 hours.

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I’ve heard from past attendees that having speakers wasn’t the tone set each year. Having nothing to compare to, I felt having Josh Bliell and Steve Richert share their stories with us was extremely moving and inspiring. If you haven’t heard of Josh, he is the community spokesperson for the NFL Indianapolis Colts. He is a marine who lost both legs from a bombing in Iraq and although he doesn’t have diabetes, he shared his story of having courage and hope when your “normal” completely changes. If you haven’t heard of Steve, he is a fellow type 1 diagnosed as a teenager, with a mission to climb a mountain every day for 365 days to raise awareness about diabetes. These guys are so admirable. They took a bad situation and made the best of it. Something that everyone should have the guts to do.

We all got to know each other better. When we registered for the conference we were asked to provide a brief description of ourselves. Using those descriptions, they were put on the screen anonymously and we had to guess who wrote it. I have to say that most of them were guessed correctly. That showed me that even though we may not be together in person always, we know a lot about one another from our online relationships. And that’s pretty cool. Roche was getting to know us better as well. As Todd stated, the attendees to these summits play an important role in their partnership with patients. They want to interact and understand the patients. Rob said he sees every day how we motivate ourselves to interact with others and motivate others. To quote him “we want to be the arrows pointing to all of your resources, not competing with them”. This is what separates companies like Roche from others. Their interest and initiative to reach out to patients. They get what the diabetes online community is all about.

Of course there was bonding. And laughing. Crying. Hugging. That was all icing on the cake. There were also serious discussions. Important questions asked. Ideas shared. Motivation gained. All this happened for the good of the diabetes community everywhere.

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(photo courtesy: Chris Snider)

Disclosure: Roche paid for my travel, hotel and meal expenses for my trip to Indy. They have not however, required any blog posts from any of us. Feedback provided by me is completely my own opinion.