Three wishes for World Diabetes Day

Today I shared an amazing organization’s request. Insulin for Life are seeking unused bottles of insulin and test strips to bring to those in need. For 32 years this non profit has been supplying children, men and women around the world who would die without these. Getting unused supplies where people have no access is a wish we can all contribute to.

Full article on The Huffington Post.

I also caught up with the campaign the American Diabetes Association are running this Diabetes Month – “This Is Diabetes.” It’s our stories of who we are, still are, with diabetes. It says we may have a new story living with diabetes but we’re still here, and many of us are even stronger than before because of diabetes. My wish is that you add your story to the mosaic to inspire others.

Then I reread what I’d written for the ADA’s ‘Stop Diabetes’ campaign some years ago. It still defines me. In fact, it may be more true than ever as today my work is sharing with patients and providers, around the world, a treatment approach and mindset to help us not merely cope with diabetes, but flourish. Yes, This Is Diabetes, for me. So my final wish for you is that you look up today and see how strong you are, and that today a wish of yours comes true.

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Going back to diabetes basics

I haven’t really talked much about Diabetes Month but if you didn’t know, we’re in it. Today I received an infographic from NRS Healthcare, a leading health agency in the U.K. They asked me to share it. Below is the majority of it.

Outside of the 700 people (U.K) who get diagnosed per day stat they quote, everything  is relevant for anyone, anywhere.

This side of the pond, the American Diabetes Association reports 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed every year. Feel free to do the math. Almost 30 million Americans (both type 1 and type 2) currently have diabetes in the U.S. Add the 86 million Americans with pre-diabetes and you can say a third of the population has a blood sugar problem.

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A tribute to the tired and weary remarkable diabetes advocates everywhere…

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…and there are hundreds (thousands?) more than I could possibly represent here. Here’s a sincere tribute to all the incredible people who do this work tirelessly.

I’ve been seeing on my Facebook page a lot of discussion about burn out this month. Not burn out from managing diabetes but from advocating for diabetes.

Many of the remarkable people doing this remarkable work, who use their voice, their money, their time and talent, to raise fellow patients everywhere are burning out – as this month, Diabetes Month, gets into gear. I’m glad to see people actually say it.

It’s the proof that we too are only human. That although we bring our passion, talents and energy to lift others – through peer-mentoring, representing the diabetes community to the FDA for better products and regulations, working for diabetes device and app companies, creating amazing social media sharing sites, giving presentations at conferences, working the exhibition hall, blogging, running summits…  we too are only fallible, ordinary people also living with diabetes 24/7 like everyone else. And for many this is a second job. I just want to say hurrah, recognize how outstanding you are and give yourself the same self-care you advocate for others.

There is an irony that we privately share amongst ourselves. When at industry meetings, conferences and events, when with those who should realize blood sugar is within our influence, but not our control, when we’re seated there as patient representatives for our hard won knowledge and experience, if we’re having a low, we are shy to let it be seen.

I’m sure this is deeply psychological. Even when we all know diabetes is fluctuating blood sugars and unpredictability, we feel somehow as role models we have to do this all perfectly.

I just returned from Chicago last night. It was my second trip there in a month. I gave the A1C Champion peer-mentor program I’ve been delivering across the country for the past 10 years. Last night I spoke to 45 people in Glenview, IL. Many were members of a group called the T1D Lounge. A group that fellow advocate and PWD, Merle Gleeson, created and has been running for the past 20 years. She said to me,  “Every year I think I’ll stop, but you know, I can’t. For then who will do this?” Most of us like the T-shirt says, “Run on insulin.” I’d venture to say all of us run on what this work gives us – a sense of purpose, of contribution and making a difference.

I love my work as an inspirational speaker and flourishing-with-diabetes workshop facilitator. It energizes me. This work fuels us, we choose it, we make a difference in hundreds, thousands of peoples’ lives. Yet all of us in this space can relate, along with the maps we post on Facebook of our constant travel, to the weariness of too many flights, too many hotels and yet feeling there’s still so much to do.

This month, particularly this month, you, you diabetes warrior, find the time to put your feet up, have your partner, friend, dog, neighbor hand you a cocktail, look around your room, your house, at your family, take a deep breath and know, really know, the world is a better place because you have made it so.

Part of Revlon’s ‘Love is on’ charity challenge

It was so quick, apparently this was online and finished before anyone told me it was live. That said, it was still an honor, or maybe a hoot, to be chosen to be part of Revlon’s charitable donations campaign to organizations that support women and health. The profile as it ran below. Ignore the fact that in the second to last paragraph I’ve been transformed from Greenberg to Goldberg. I’m ignoring it :-).

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Peer-mentor week from fellow diabetes advocate Daniele Hargenrader

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 11.33.51 AM.pngDaniele Hargenrader, she’s actually much taller than the picture above, has pulled off a dream that involves you. She’s created a fantastic week-long series of videos with people who have diabetes just like you and loved ones sharing how we THRIVE (translation: flourish) with diabetes. I’m among the almost 30 people sharing their stories, their wisdom and their hearts.

The videos are completely free from November 1-7, with giveaways and prizes ON TOP of a huge community of support and sustenance. Tune in, you’ll learn, laugh, be moved, and most important of all, feel you’re no longer alone.

Register here and join us all on November 1.

Diabetes “Hardware” & “Heartware” – both fuel self-management

 

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I consider all the great technology and devices that keep coming out to help us manage our diabetes extraordinary. From the simplest, almost painless lancing devices and insulin pens to my sophisticated CGM that shares data and smart pumps. I call these devices “hardware.”

I also know something else is essential for good diabetes care and self-management. I call this “Heartware.” Learn more in this article on the Huffington Post.

Eating Lo-Carb and Hi-Carb yields unexpected blood sugar results

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Adam Brown, Senior Editor of diaTribe and fellow type 1 whom I much admire, wrote a fascinating article about his lo-carb/hi-carb eating experiment. Here is the link.

Adam found that by doubling his carbohydrate intake, his blood sugar average was the same as when he follows his usual low carbohydrate meal plan. He was surprised, and so was I frankly reading his post.

But this is what was different – he experienced four times as much hypoglycemia on his high carb diet, a lot more guessing regarding his blood sugars and insulin dosing, a lot more work managing his diabetes and a lot more stress.

An excerpt:

Insulin is a dangerous drug, and doubling my carbs required 34% more every day. Large-carb meals also required two to five times more insulin in a single dose. My typical lower-carb meals needed one or two units at a time to cover vegetables, nuts, protein, and a bit of fruit – all raise glucose in small increments (+20 to +60 mg/dl) over a couple hours. By contrast, higher carb meals – even whole grains – often required five- and eight-unit boluses. Insulin has been called the second most dangerous drug (after the blood thinner warfarin), and insulin errors cause more than 97,000 hypoglycemia hospitalizations each year. I see value in taking smaller doses.

Adam’s article confirms my own long-held belief shared by many type 1s, that eating low carb makes our blood sugars easier to manage, keeps us in range more of the time and requires less insulin.

Whenever I’m off my low carb routine, times particularly when I’m traveling and can’t control my food, I feel like I’m chasing my numbers all day long. The typical American diet for me requires two to three times more insulin for each meal.

No matter how much you know about blood sugar management, you’ll find this experiment and post enlightening.

Diabetes Sisters’ Leadership Conference begins

I’m off, to Chicago, to be part of the DOC line-up of speakers at Diabetes Sister’s Leadership weekend. This gathering brings together POD Leaders from all over the country.

If you are female and don’t know of Diabetes Sisters, you should. In 2008 Brandy Barnes brought her dream of connecting women with diabetes together, to social media. Today the connection is as big as the world, and as small as your living room. From grass roots to grass lawns, this organization has been a delight to watch grow.

This weekend is to train those amazing POD Leaders who help educate and uplift other women in their community through informal meetings in their homes. The Leadership weekend is an opportunity for them to gain leadership skills so that, in addition to their big hearts, they can assist those in their group most effectively.

Sunday I’ll be facilitating a three hour presentation/workshop on helping yourself, and others, flourish with diabetes. Saturday’s agenda includes talks by luminaries Melissa Lee, Karen Rose Tank, Robin Wright, Cherise Shockley and Diabetes Sisters’ own Sarah Mart and CEO, Anna Norton.

The weekend kicks off tonight with bowling/boche, a great way to throw a group of strangers together and become immediate friends. If you’ve been looking for a diabetes- sister, look no further.

Hope to report back that I actually scored a strike tonight. Or is it spare? Well, more than knocked down one pin;-)

 

Tried and new?: Peer Mentoring for Behavior Change

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Thursday I’m going to be interviewed by Daniele Hargenrader . She’s compiling 20+ interviews with PWDs and those who support us about the value we have received and given helping others with diabetes. She will offer the interviews free for a week in November.

It prompted me to go back and read an interview I had conducted a few years ago precisely on this topic of peer-mentoring. It’s here on the Huffington Post. I interviewed, at the time, associate professor and research scientist Dr. Michele Heisler. Heisler was studying the value of peer-mentors and peer-mentor programs.

Heisler confirmed the value doing an unlikely experiment. She paired two low performing patients (high A1Cs) to mentor each other. She also surprised most of her colleagues who heard about her experiment and didn’t believe low-performing patients would improve by mentoring each other. Yet, they did. In an excerpt from my interview below Heisler  explains.

Q: There was something else surprising about your study. None of the patient partners had good control of their blood sugars when they began the program.

MH: That’s absolutely true. When we were planning this a lot of people said to us, “What are you doing?” because all our participants had high A1cs and were struggling to bring down their blood sugar levels. Many people felt that we should keep to a more traditional peer model where one peer with good control helps coach somebody with poor control. Yet for all the reasons I mentioned they were quite able to motivate each other and themselves. Interestingly, the least successful pairs in our pilot were someone with very poor control matched with someone with very good control who didn’t seem to have any problems. The person with poor control said to herself, “Gosh, this person is clearly not like me and I have nothing to offer her.”

Peer-mentoring has always seemed to me an extremely low-cost, high touch way to have people with diabetes help each other, and themselves. And much of the benefit, is not merely improved clinical outcomes, but support, learning real-live tricks (today we’d call them hacks) patients know and use, and lifting depression and lonliness. For the whole interview with Dr. Heisler, click here.