It’s national “Infusion Site Awareness Week”

Pass the word along…


My lovely infusion site tattoo


 No, I’m not making it up. Roche Diabetes Care, makers of the ACCU-CHEK® meters and test strips has named August 30-Sept 5 National Infusion Site Awareness Week – and with good reason.

For those who use an insulin pump there are a few things to pay mind to and your infusion site is one of them. 

The infusion site is the area of skin where a pump’s needle introduces a little plastic tube under your skin for  insulin delivery. 

Cleaning the skin properly before the needle insertion and rotating your infusion site each time so you don’t use the same spot can prevent infection and the build up of scar tissue that can block the flow of insulin.

A 2007 study in the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care reported that some adult patients experience as many as 12 issues of irritation or infection a year because of improper site maintenance.

Infusion site management includes: choosing a location on your body, cleaning and preparing your skin at the site, properly inserting the needle, regularly rotating the insertion site to avoid infection and monitoring insulin flow. It’s recommended people change their infusion site every three days and not use the same site for about two weeks.

Notable irritations due to infusion site problems include: having two unexplained high blood glucose readings in a row, itching, burning, pain, blood or air in your tubing.

Roche launched Infusion Site Week to help diabetes educators increase understanding and education among their patients. Roche has also distributed Infusion Site Awareness Week kits to CDEs across the U.S.

Inside is a DVD, fact sheets and talking points, calendar, buttons, media outreach materials and site tattoos. I know because I got one. If you’d like to request a kit you can do so here.

Actually, I don’t use an insulin pump but today I’m wearing the pin and I’m sporting one of the tattoos that came in the box. The tattoos are meant to mark where your infusion site is so you don’t use the same spot twice.

Of course I thought about tattooing all my injection sites until I realized there’d be no skin left showing on my body. 

The power of loving yourself from New York to New Mexico


Recently I read about one of my fellow diabetes bloggers who also attends Roche’s social media summit, yet I’ve never known much about the modest, quiet Wil Dubois.  

Wil is a type 1, CDE, author and Diabetes Coordinator for the nonprofit Pecos Valley Medical Center in New Mexico. The clinic serves one of the poorest counties in the U.S., about 1,000 square miles of rural, underprivleged people and relies heavily on state funding. 
Moved by the work Wil has dedicated himself to, I wanted to help. I looked around my bedroom where boxes of books are piled and offered to send him 24 copies of my book, The ABC’s Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes that I had translated into Spanish, El ABC para aprender quererte teniendo diabetes. The book provides 26 lessons to build more emotional strength, and happiness, on this journey we take with diabetes.
Will accepted my offer of books immediately and graciously, and so that afternoon I was standing in the middle of my bedroom furiously packing books and then running them down to FedEx. 
A few days later Wil told me they’d arrived. I asked him to use the books in any way he saw fit — give them to patients, use them working with patients…and to let me know what his patients thought.
He promised to do so and told me one of his colleagues has already made off with a copy. Now that’s sweet. 
As life would have it, just a week after I shipped the books I had the opportunity to thank my two United Nations translators, Georgina Báez-Sommer and Amparo Fernandez, over a Mexicn dinner in the hood. Now that was spicy!

Join me for the TCOYD event Rhode Island, September 11th


Join me in Providence, RI

TCOYD, which stands for Taking Control of Your Diabetes, is a non-profit organization that provides one day health fairs all across the country to help people better manage their diabetes. The organization alsobroadcast in-depth discussions with renowned health professionals and patients.

Next month, September 11, if you’re anywhere near Rhode Island, you should attend because I’ll be there presenting. Of course, it’s not the only reason you should come. You’ll hear lectures on facets of diabetes care from your feet to your heart, learn and get some exercise, bond with many others and attend interactive workshops where the learning is personal. It’s a full day affair of fine tuning your diabetes management provided to you by many respected people in the field. All for only $30. Register here.

Joining you will be top physicians, psychologists, educators, foot specialists, exercise physiologists and there’s much to see and do in the exhibition hall including many new devices, products and foods. 

TCOYD was the first diabetes health event I attended way back in the early part of this decade. There I attended, among others, psychologist’s Bill Polonsky’s workshop where I learned something crucial — that diabetes is not the leading cause of heart attack, blindness and amputation but poorly-controlled diabetes is. It made a huge difference to me: 30 years of fear slid down my shoulders and the resolve to master my self-care led me to the healthy regimen I have today. 

I also met a lovely gentleman in the exhibition hall who answered all my questions and then guided me to the peer-mentoring programs I deliver today around the country speaking to fellow patients. 

TCOYD is the labor of love of Dr. Steven Edelman who founded it almost 15 years ago. Dr. Edelman was recognized last year with the ‘Outstanding Educator’ award from the American Diabetes Association.  Edelman himself has lived with type 1 diabetes since the age of 15, and has dedicated his life and work to helping as many people with diabetes as possible to live healthier, happier lives.

My workshop by the way is titled: The ABCs of loving yourself with diabetes and I’m on at 3:30 PM. You’ll discover how to live a life with diabetes where you don’t just cope with diabetes, but actually flourish. If you come, do let me know. I’ll want to say hello. 

Back from the AADE

AADE 8:2010 - 68

I know I’ve just returned from San Antonio because my body is craving guacamole and the smell of fresh mint in those juicy mojitos! Ah, but that’s not what you tuned in for, is it?

The annual diabetes educators conference was a hit with thousands of diabetes educators, nurses, physicians and pharmacists attending the 4 days of lectures, bonding, learning and renewing their credentials, and their spirit. The first evening at the poster event while all were mingling, I asked several CDEs what keeps them going. The answer was always the same, “Making a difference in someone’s life,” and that feeling was palpable.

The meeting kicked off with President, Deb Fillman’s welcome address.  I was extremely happy, and surprised, to hear her talk so emphatically about the need for change. The need for educators and the profession to look outside the box for new ways of working as more will be asked of them. 

Prevention is becoming a big topic in health care and for CDEs. The U.S. Senate’s passage of the health care reform bill late last year includes a provision to establish a National Diabetes Prevention Program. This means an expanded role for CDEs in the prevention of diabetes. Although god only knows how they will do more given the thousands of educators for millions of patients.

Fillman asked the audience to be more adventurous with change in their personal lives, taking on challenges and reaching for more fulfillment and success, as it will flow into being even better mentors and educators. Fillman also spotlighted the AADE’s new online tool, “My AADE Network” which helps members connect wherever they are and create an online community and remote learning.

Rear Admiral and former AssistantSurgeon General, Susan Blumenthal, was the keynote opening speaker. She pressed the sense of urgency upon us that we need to stand up to deal with the obesity epidemic now that’s taking a huge toll on America’s health and economy.  

The exhibition hall, always interesting to me, didn’t get as much traffic as usual and vendors didn’t know why except to suggest the short hours precluded many attendees from spending much time there if they were sitting in on continuous lectures. Also, the bookstore made a decision to only carry ADA publications and those of their speakers doing book signings. Other authors needed to show their own book(s) at their own booth, if they had one. 

I presented Saturday morning a behavioral program titled, “Beyond Motivational Interviewing: What Can Happen When You Catch Someone Doing Something Right.” There were about 100 attendees excited to be introduced to an entirely new mindset and model for working with diabetes patients: a mindset of “flourishing” with diabetes and a coaching model that enables health professionals to work as facilitators with patients, as appropriate, to:

1.  Explore the context of patients’ lives 

2. Play “Strengths Detective” to help patients recall and reconnect with capabilities they’ve used in the past

3. Collaboratively design mechanisms for sustaining healthy habits, causing positive behavior change faster and more sustainably than when only using the traditional model of “telling patients what to do.” 

This is exciting stuff that you’ll be hearing more about. I am currently putting the finishing touches on a curriculum to train health professionals on this mindset and model along with my two partners,Boudewijn Bertsch and Eileen Murphy.

A phenomenal play called, ‘Close to the Heart’ produced by Amylin was one of the conference’s highlights. With real actors in tow, it dramatized a patient getting a diagnosis of diabetes and how she deals with it, along with her relationships with her jealous best friend who is struggling with her diabetes, her supportive, yet pre-diabetic husband, and physician. Even I who have had diabetes for 38 years felt anew this woman’s confusion and pain. 

After the half hour performance Dr. Steven Edelman of TCOYD, Psychologist Bill Polonsky of BDI, heart surgeon Robert Chilton, Dr. Stephen Brunton and host Davida Kruger, certified nurse practitioner, answered questions in a panel discussion. Kudos to Amylin for going outside the box. It was a smash, and I know Amylin has plans to make short videos of it.

The general session closed with an in-your-face presentation by Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic about the cost, both physical and economic, of our obesity and diabetes tsunami. Roizen has been an impressive change-agent spearheading the “Lifestyle 180 Program” at the Cleveland Clinic, which was first piloted with Clinic employees and now available to patients.  

One point Roizen made that still resonates is — food is an absolute, you can’t make a deal with food. What you eat is critical to your body and your health and either will or won’t turn on the genes for illness. For instance the sugar in ice cream will change the proteins in your body. That, he says, is a given. You can burn off the calories, but too many unhealthy foods and you’re creating inflammation which creates disease. 

Next year’s conference is in Las Vegas. I think my husband is already booking the hotel and buying his binoculars to look for Elvis.