The antidote to living with diabetes

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As Diabetes Month closes, this is the title of my latest article on The Huffington Post. I believe it with all my heart and so want to share it with you perhaps as an early Thanksgiving gift.

“…for me, having lived with Type 1 diabetes almost 42 years and with no end in sight, I have to find hope somewhere. So I take it in the attitude I’ve adopted: You can have a great life, not despite but because of diabetes.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not denying the work, the hardship and the fears diabetes brings or it’s potentially damaging consequences. I am suggesting what Randy Pausch told us in his “Last Lecture” and what Michael J. Fox has been telling us since he got Parkinson’s. That you can make meaning from tragedy and find not just a way to bear it, but joy in a meaningful life.

I have used diabetes as a catalyst to create a purposeful life: to become fitter, stronger, more compassionate, passionate, bolder, less fearful and help others. Many others have told me the same.”

To read the full article click here.

Addressing Sanofi’s global device developers

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to 80 people involved in, and committed to, the development of medical devices. I was addressing Sanofi’s global device developers offering the “Patient Perspective.” How I interact with devices – how they help me manage my diabetes, and my life, where they let me down and what else I’d like to see.

For me, it’s always a joy to share what living with diabetes is really like, and help others understand the good, the bad and the ugly. I calculated that living with type 1 diabetes 41 years, I have taken 76,115 shots and 60,972 finger pricks. I have spent over a billion seconds of my life calculating how many carbs are in what I eat, when I will take my walk, whether I need to refill my scripts, see my doctor, take a correction shot and on and on.

The heads nodding in the audience told me they either “got it” or their eyes were being opened. I also shared my views about what devices I use – glucose meter, Solostar insulin pen, Timesulin insulin pen cap, ACCU-CHEK Multiclix lancing device, Dexcom G4 CGM and a low-tech little key chain that carries 4 glucose tablets.

The t:slim insulin pump was on my “cool” list, looking as it does like an iPhone. And the Lantus Solostar and Apidra insulin pens on my “oops” list. So similar in design and color, I know too many patients who have confused them and landed in the hospital.

In the end, my advice for Sanofi’s team to better know how to design products we want to use is to “Be a patient.” La vida loca, “live the (crazy) life” of someone with diabetes. Check your own blood sugar 8-10 times a day, log your blood sugars and count carbs in your meals.

And spend time talking to people with diabetes. How else would you know why I love my CGM (affectionately known as “Pinkie”) yet don’t use an insulin pump?

My parting image was this little girl up there – me at three. She had no idea diabetes was coming down the pike in 15 years; that that diagnosis would change her life forever.

Yet, she and I are hopeful for the devices that will still come. And the one I’m truly waiting for is the one that lets the one I use most often, my brain, retire.

It will be the device that when I’m walking, eating, watching a movie, standing on line at airport security or making love doesn’t have me wondering, “What’s my blood sugar now and what do I have to do about it?” Because it has already taken care of it for me.