Sunday, August 31, 2014

What Diabetes Awareness Month Feels Like to a PWD.

Also answers to "American Diabetes Month", "National Diabetes Month", "National Diabetes Awareness Month", and "November".

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Diabetes Stigma on Mashable.

When I think about what we can do to improve the psychosocial health of people living with diabetes it always comes back to this, for me: share your story. Even when it feels like you're saying the same things again and again, keep sharing. Keep talking. Keep showing. Keep living. Don't give up.

This is how we change the world for the better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giveaway: N-Style ID.

UPDATED: Congratulations to the winner - April! This contest is now closed.

When I was a CWD (child with diabetes) in the late 80's/early 90's, I had two options: I could wear the clunky, thick, stretchy metal bracelet whose links always seemed to trap my arm hair (and then rip it out when the bracelet shifted on my wrist), or I could sport a large (to a child) medallion around my neck that announced by way of bright red caduceus: OH HAI I HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION!

And when I was a CSWD (college student with diabetes) (that's not a real acronym), I wore no external indication of my diabetes whatsoever. This continued into adulthood until I attended the Friends For Life conference for the first time few years ago, where it seemed that so many of the people I'd befriended and respected in the diabetes online community were being the sort of responsible adult that I merely pretended I was - they wore ID bracelets! And there were stylish options! Alright, alright, fine, I'll get one.

Or make one! (A medical ID joins my insulin pump and Dexcom CGM as Things I Didn't Want To Wear But Then I Saw My Friends With Diabetes Wear Them So I Guess I'll Try It.)

I still have that original bracelet; the engraved nameplate often switched between bracelet options. I thought I'd be annoyed with making my diabetes "visible" by wearing medical jewelry, but I'm not. It actually feels nice to know there's a little bit of "here's what's up" hanging out on my wrist in case I get into a situation where I can't speak for myself. And while I once believed that wearing an insulin pump would serve as a pseudo-medical ID in case of an emergency, that isn't actually the case - an EMT will look for medical ID jewelry; they're not necessarily going to look for an insulin pump. (And what would that have told them, anyway? No name or medical condition specifics on that puppy!)

In the spirit of "I'm glad I started wearing medical IDs again", I'm looking to share the love. N-Style ID (whose founder has a daughter with T1D, and coincidentally the same company I bought that first "medical ID as an adult" bracelet from) contacted me, asking if they could send me one of their bracelets - but since my N-Style ID is working just fine I'd rather pass this gift onto one of you.

You can win one of the three designs I have pictured below ("Hoot", "Light Blue Rubber", or "Camo"):

There will be one winner, and your bracelet's ID plate will be engraved however you wish. Your bracelet will be shipped directly to you from N-Style ID.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter this contest and make sure to leave a comment on this blog post answering the following questions: Do you normally wear medical ID jewelry? If so - what do you wear? If not - why not? Bonus entries may be earned by liking the N-Style ID Facebook page and following them on Twitter!

This contest will be be open for 48 hours; I will pick a winner Friday morning. This is not limited to U.S. residents - all are encouraged to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Keep Going."

The minutiae of my diabetes life is looking pretty blurry lately - it's less "paying close attention" and more "auto-pilot".

I dipped my pinky toe into the CGM in the Cloud waters last week by downloading Chromadex, and thereby downloading (for the first time, at home) my Dexcom G4 CGM data onto my Macbook. It's hard to believe I'm doing well when those pie charts are predominantly lemon.

But, as a famous fish once said, I need to just keep swimming. It may not feel comfortable or look pretty or get me very far, but it's worth doing.

Or, another way: just keep going.

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(You can find the photo set for these "Words of Hope" on the You Can Do This Project Facebook page.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#MedX Global Access Program; Ignite Talk.

Chris was the reason I applied in 2012. I had never heard of Stanford's Medicine X conference before, nor had I known they were looking specifically for patients to attend their conference. "You should apply for this", he said - which baffled me. Me? Stanford? Medical conference? I wouldn't fit what they were looking for, surely. No, this was for someone else more official; more visible; more involved; more professional. Thank you, though.

The last possible date in the application period came and I realized that there was no harm in applying. I raced through the application. I was so certain that they would not pick me, but at least I could say I tried. No regrets.

But then, plot twist! I was selected for their ePatient program (and offered a scholarship that would cover the costs of my attendance, which was the only way I could attend, financially). My nerves on the flight there and throughout the first day were so intense that my whole body felt like one big vibrating lump because STANFORD and patients sitting in the front of the room and so many important people that I only knew through the internet and what am I doing here. I felt like an impostor. What am I doing here?

But then the conference began, and I increasingly began to understand.

image courtesy of Kerri

This conference that focused on "the intersection of medicine and emerging technologies" brought together every stakeholder in healthcare - but most especially, it brought together patients from a plethora of different conditions and communities. I felt so moved by the stories of my fellow patients; those ePatient Ignite talks were by far my favorite aspect of the conference.

And now, I get to return to Medicine X this fall (with limited scholarship help, this time) and deliver one of those talks myself. It may come to no surprise to you that the focus of my Ignite talk will center around the emotional impact of living with a chronic illness.

You can check out the 2014 schedule here (and for those of you in the diabetes community, you'll be pleased to know that we are well represented on stage and in the ePatient program).

If you'd like to watch the conference but can't make the trip to Stanford's campus, you are in luck: you can virtually "attend" the conference by using the Global Access Program. It is free to use, but you have to register for it, so go do that.