Thursday, March 29, 2012

Off to California

 So, off to the West Coast.

I'm very excited to be a part of the 2nd annual Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum, being held March 29-30 at the insulin pump maker's HQ in Northridge, California.

More than two dozen Diabetes Online Community members are heading out for this summit, which began in 2011 and had a great turnout and discussion (or so I've read, because I wasn't a part of that inaugural event).

In the past two years, I've been fortunate to be asked by another D-company, Roche Diagnostics, to be a part of their annual summit and have tried to not only learn from those events and express my thoughts on how we can all work together, but to represent the rest of the diabetes community in some capacity.  I trust Medtronic's forum is aimed at the same purpose, and so that's what I will focus on - being an engaging attendee trying to represent and let the rest of our community know what's happening there, via Twitter and blogging and whatever other online means might work best.

There's a hashtag, #MedtronicDAF, so you can follow along and also ask questions you might want to know. We'll keep watch on the twitter-feeds as best we can.

Yes, Medtronic is paying our way.  They're flying us there and back, putting a hotel roof over our heads for two nights, and providing transportation and food for most of the stay.

No, they haven't asked - and I have no reason to think they would - ask me to write about the summit, even though they know I probably will anyhow. And by all means, whatever I think will be what I write - good, bad, indifferent or otherwise. See my Disclosure page for more.

Oh, and even though there's a CGM sensor manufacturing plant tour on tap I have no expectation of receiving any pump or CGM supplies. I use the Dexcom anyhow, despite my use of the Medtronic 722.

So there we are. I'm flying out to the Los Angeles area in hopes of a great event and being able to see some great friends. Hopefully, the TSA doesn't toss any problems my way. Stay tuned to hear how it all goes!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hey, Media...

Wake Up!

On Tuesday, March 27, another Diabetes Alert Day 2012 came and went.

If you're not familiar with what this annual alert day's all about, I offer some background to bring you up to speed:

This is the American Diabetes Association's one-day "wake-up call" for the U.S. public, held on the fourth Tuesday of every March. First, people can take what's called the "Diabetes Risk Test" to find out if they are at risk for developing Type 2. For every test taken between March 27 and April 27, the Boar's Head meat-makers will donate $5 to the ADA up to $50,000.  This risk test asks people to answer simple questions about weight, family history and other potential risk factors. Preventative tips are provided, too.

Yes, the alert day is mostly aimed at Type 2. But, a couple years ago, I was one of a handful of D-bloggers in the community who also pointed out that the day is for us Type 1s, too.

The JDRF joined in on the awareness activity on Tuesday by issuing its own Call to Congress, urging people to contact their congressional members in Washington D.C. and ask that critical D-funding not be slashed. Members of the Diabetes Caucuses in both the House and Senate are asking their colleagues to sign-on to letters to the leadership acknowledging the important contributions of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). This all has to happen by Friday, March 30. This fits with what the ADA has already pushed in a statement and effort to preserve $19 billion from overall funding for 2013 for selected public health programs, including the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation, and its National Diabetes Prevention Program.

But all that is just media fodder. Let's get right to the point - the media coverage of diabetes.

This D-Alert Day isn't focused on media, but the day sets the stage for a new effort aimed at not only raising awareness but helping to ensure accuracy in how diabetes is covered and portrayed.

This awareness day is a great time to highlight what Diabetes Advocates program has unveiled as a way to encourage more media accountability in its coverage of diabetes. I've written about this topic before, highlighting the unfortunate examples of Media Missing The Point. Those situations are what has led to this new media outreach campaign.

From a news release sent out Tuesday by Diabetes Advocates:

"Despite the fact that media outlets are reporting on diabetes more than ever, the condition is still widely misrepresented and portrayed as only one disease - when in actuality diabetes is made up of several different diseases (type 1, type 1.5 or LADA, and type 2 being the most predominantly confused). By emailing the organization at media@diabetesadvocates.org, reporters can quickly fact check, get suggestions and have a real-time conversation with the Diabetes Advocates to ensure the accuracy of their articles. The Diabetes Advocates can also serve as sources for reporters."

With representation from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Actor's Equity (AEA) within the organization, the Diabetes Advocates can also serve as information sources to entertainment outlets. Entertainment outlets looking for information on diabetes can email the group, as well.

"Our goal is to stop being reactive and start being proactive," said Diabetes Advocates member and blogger Kelly Kunik. "When a story with incorrect information is published, the damage is done By making ourselves available to media and entertainment outlets, we are seeking to be a part of the solution."

I'm very proud and excited about this new media outreach effort, not only as a longtime Type 1 myself who is a Diabetes Advocates member but as a member of the very news industry that so often gets things wrong. Various members of the organization, myself included, will be on hand on a rotating basis to any reporters who might contact us for some help with their work. We're looking forward to it. Here's to doing as K2 says: being a part of the solution for the betterment of our community and the public in general.

Here's your chance, media. Please work with us in making sure the best and most accurate information is getting out.

Consider this your alert - on Tuesday and every day down the road.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Vacuuming Guy at Panera

A few of us Indiana members of the Diabetes Online Community got together recently for a D-Meetup.

L to R: Mike Durbin, Cherise Shockley, Mike Hoskins - and... Build-a-Bear in front!
My wife and I, plus Cherise Shockley and her daughter, reside in Central Indiana. So, we were excited to meetup with Mike Durbin, who was visiting family in Kentucky and able to make a stop in our area on his way back up to Fort Wayne.

Our place of choice: Panera Bread on the northside of Indianapolis.

How do you really describe the awesomeness of one of these D-Meetups?

Simply put: Fun times, full of laughter and intellectually stimulating conversation. All while sharing some bread.

We chatted about some of the latest new blood meter technology out there (the Telcare meter) and our feelings on it. We talked about the dangers of D-Management technology all being connected online and what might happen if the power grid crashed or Terminator Machines took over and impacted our ability to use these devices and technology. Other topics involved personal life topics, our goals and passions, and pros and cons about what various D-organizations do to engage us as patient-advocates. There was also talk about the great DOC ideas out there and what the future holds as our community evolves and these ideas take more shape.

Mike and Cherise tried to persuade me that it was time to buy an iPad or similar tablet in order to make writing and D-advocacy more efficient, especially when being on the road for D-conferences.  Cherise demonstrated her persuasive skills that could essentially sell ketchup packets to someone wearing white gloves or Diet Pepsi to a die-hard Diet Coke lover (hi, Scott Johnson!) Meanwhile, Mr. Durbin whipped out his iPad and offered a demo of its awesomeness. This pair is persistent and their message is tempting... though I've not made the plunge at this point.

Cherise's daughter had some fun with a Build-A-Bear app on her kid-sized iPhone to make each of us our own individualized Bear. Great times, indeed!

Oh, and without a doubt: there was a carrot cake cupcake, diet soda and coffee amongst the group. As if that was even a question.

Sadly, as often is the case with these D-Meetups, time flew by too fast. And that's where the Vacuuming Guy at Panera appeared, weaving his floor sweeper around our table and not letting up as the minutes passed. It became obvious that he was trying to send us a message, that indeed it was past closing time and we needed to leave.

In recapping this D-Meetup and what this post should be named, Suzi mentioned the title and I absolutely loved it. Simply, it not only signifies the location of our meetup but also the fact of how good friends can talk endlessly even past closing time.

Getting the signal from Vacuuming Guy, we reluctantly packed up and headed out - taking a few pictures of the group in the front entrance area while enduring a few frustrated glances from the Panera crew trying to close up shop. We then made it outside and proceeded to talk for another 20 minutes or so in the parking lot before parting ways.

"See you in the DOC," we all pretty much said as we went our seperate ways. Knowing, of course, that we'd all have more opps for real-life meetups in the coming weeks. And in those times, we'll be able to talk and share as much as our hearts desire without the annoying vacuuming cutting our conversations short.

The conversation continues, both online and offline. As friends do. Or, you know, #likeyoudo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Self-Worth & Quicksand

For a few sessions now, Mind Ninja and I have been circling around the idea of self-worth.

She's told me in our discussions that I frequently put myself down and then try to downplay that with a little slice of humor or sarcasm. This is something I’d realized myself before, but she drew a big red circle around it and made me focus on the habit.

She asked why I thought this happened, what caused the habit to form and why so often I’m able to justify my behavior with the excuse that I’m either lazy, a slacker or “a passionate practitioner of the Procrastinator’s Creed.”

Honestly, I recall feeling this way for most of my life. Maybe it comes from the sense that I began viewing my diabetes as a “never-ending” and “unwinnable” battle during my early teens. That I developed a “why bother” attitude about my health for a long time, and a casualty of that attitude was that it spilled into all the other aspects of my life. Or maybe there are other reasons for this entirely.

Whatever the reason, I’ve had a diminishing view of myself over time and that’s led to increased anxiety, more stress, less confidence, and overall less enjoyment. Depression – which affects very many of us PWDs, apparently.

In the past two months, these feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy having been dwindling thanks to a combination of medication, Mind Ninja sessions, and generally less stress in my life. I’m confident, too, that my renewed and blossoming relationship with God has been a key factor in all of this.

But I've not overcome it and I'm still struggling. Every day, I face the choice about whether I'm going to let myself feel worthless and incapable of success or whether I'm going to be positive and optimistic about who I am. Mind Ninja and I have been trying to recognize the root causes of these feelings that have developed over time and determine what we can do to help wipe them away permanently.

One of the tools she gave me is what we refer to as a Mental Timeout. Basically, it involves taking a mental break whenever I get to a point where I am calling myself “lazy” or a “slacker.” At that moment, I reflect on why I am not doing or wanting to do whatever the task may be. I list the reasons in my mind and weigh them, to determine whether it’s truly worth not doing what’s necessary at that moment.

This has been very eye-opening in the past couple weeks. Yes, I’ve found times when I am just being lazy and don’t want to do something. Other times, there’s a different reason that I’m trying to avoid – like changing my Dex sensor or insulin pump infusion set, which I simply don’t want to do because “it’s working fine” and I am nervous to find different real estate to stab with the needles. Again, it’s a question of asking myself “Is it worth it?” before deciding to slack off.

We’ve also written out and discussed a list of Ideal Characteristics that I’d like to have, and how we can move toward embracing those listed characteristics. Some of mine include taking off the metaphoric mask that I feel I’ve been wearing for a long time. Strengthening my reliability that’s decreased over time, often a result of my not doing something and then compromising what others think of me. Re-establishing personal connections with friends,  interacting more in real life, boosting my confidence by doing things as simple as walking the streets with my eyes straight ahead and maintaining eye contact with people. Being a part of a conversation, rather than shying away. And finding again that personality and outgoing nature that once was a part of who I was.

There’s a long ways to go, for sure. But we’re moving in the right direction. And at least now, I don’t feel like I’m sinking in quicksand while trying to claw at the surface already above my head.

I'm climbing upwards and am at a point where I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Occasionally, I may slip and lose some of my progress. But the trick is not falling all the way down to the bottom and having to start over.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On The Job, Circa 2000

Setting the stage: At an office building in Oakland County, Michigan. My 20-year old self worked as a budding newspaper reporter in one of my first “professional” gigs.

One minute, I was sitting at an office desk staring at a computer screen.

The next, everything had changed.

I was drowsy. Probably because I'd stayed up late the night before and gotten little sleep. But nothing I couldn’t push aside for the rest of the workday if I just concentrated, stayed busy, and was able to close my eyes for a brief moment to re-focus...

Next thing I knew, my eyes slowly opened to reveal the ceiling. Apparently, I was sprawled out on the carpeted floor in the office. My back to the ground. My boss stood over me, along with a small group of coworkers and some paramedics.

An IV was in my arm, pumping glucose into my system for a quick BG boost to bring me out of the hypo-oblivion.

Vaguely, I recall someone saying, “I think he has diabetes.”

No, it wasn’t a paramedic (thankfully), but someone from work.

That situation was more than a decade ago, at one of the first places I worked “professionally” as a newspaper reporter even before finishing college with my degree. Back before I had an insulin pump. Before I talked openly about my Type 1 with anyone who might even remotely care. Prior to the days of maintaining good D-Management on a regular basis, but just about the time that I was pushing for “tighter control” before I started on an insulin pump.

No, I don’t believe I was wearing a medical bracelet or alert of any sort at that time.

Of course, this was one of the last times that I didn’t tell me boss and the people I work with about my Type 1 diabetes. Luckily, the paramedics figured out what was happening after someone summoned them because of the guy passed out on the office floor.

So, this situation came to mind recently when I saw the DSMA Blog Carnival topic for March:

“Does your employer/school/friends know you have diabetes? Why or why not?”

Clearly, the answer wasn’t always yes. But it has been, since the situation played out as described above. Because if I happen to go Low while at work, I don’t want to leave it to chance that someone will know what’s happening and alert the paramedics. Sure, that would probably happen anywhere that someone passes out on the floor unexpectedly… but you get the point. Knowledge is power.

I’ve not had more than a couple times in the past decade where a Low has come out of nowhere at smacked me senseless while at work. At least, not to the point where I couldn’t recover and manage myself. But if it does, I want those I work around to know what’s going on – that’s only fair.

School also knew, back in the day in the 80s and 90s. For the same reasons. At least a couple of my friends and people I lived with through the years, if not all, got the same information so they could navigate the situation in an emergency.

As for the job, I've let my boss know. Not in the first or even the second interview. But once the job was in place and we'd started - kind of like a disclosure. Over time, others learned just by watching and being around me or by picking up on signals as they happened (like me testing or changing an infusion set at my desk). We have birthday treats and special events with food and sweets, and the fact that I'm a diabetic doesn't come up. It's not awkward. I've had my share of Lows there at the office and also been late or had to leave because of something in my D-Life, but those I've worked with have traditionally been very understanding and flexible.

Still, my goal is to not have this happen at all. So it won’t even matter. I’ve never been discriminated against, and the people I’ve worked with have all been totally cool with having this D-knowledge. Maybe some choose not to share at all – that’s fine. To each their own.

Personally, I know my history and track record on having Lows and want to increase the odds of survival should something unexpected happen despite all my efforts to avoid these situations.

** This post is my March entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2012/march-dsma-blog-carnival-2/

Monday, March 12, 2012

Diaversary, Dental Dilemma, Disclosure

This past weekend was my self-designated diabetes anniversary. 28 years.

I’ve written about this before in 2011 and 2010, describing my diagnosis story but how I don’t know the exact date in 1984. How a few years ago, I received a new pump on March 10 and decided to designate that as my diaversary. So here we are, another year gone by where I’ve managed to successfully live with diabetes. Oh, and I also share this day with Chuck Norris, who celebrates his birthday on March 10. That's just totally cool.

This year was a little more of an adventure, unfortunately. The dental kind. Battled a severe tooth pain that caused the left side of my mouth to swell up like Marlon Brando. An emergency call to the dentist Saturday morning led to him prescriping meds and instructing me to get in for a root canal evaluation on that tooth as soon as possible. So that’s on tap.

Something else that I wanted to disclose: I’m now doing some freelance writing for Diabetes Mine. This has been a long-respected dblog with current news, and I’m excited to be using my journalism experience to write there. I am being compensated for my work there, and so far I’ve had one post featured about Police D-training and how the American Diabetes Association is exploring what it can do address this issue (stop on over and offer your thoughts on this topic, if you haven’t already!)

I'm contributing some D-journalism writing to Diabetes Mine as I'm able, on top of everything else going on in life and with a regular full-time newspaper job. This is an opportunity I am very excited about, because honestly I never thought I'd have a chance to actually make some money from my diabetes experience and advocacy. Sure, this is more journalism - but it's the D-connection that made this possible.

I think it's important to tell everyone about this relationship, because I for one think it's important to know the motivations behind what people are doing, what they're writing and posting. While this continues to be and likely will always be a volunteer effort for me here at The Corner Booth, where I'm not drawing any income from, I think it's just as important to let my friends and followers know where I'm contributing elsewhere. Transparency is a good thing, in my book.

So there you have it - a post about my 28th diaversary, the most recent dental dilemma, and a disclosure. At least I know how to offer some variety when it comes to my D-Life.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Self-Defeating Behavior

Blackness surrounded me.

The clock on the nightstand next to my bed probably read something like 1 a.m., but I wouldn’t know – because my eyes were closed. At that hour, all I wanted to do was sleep. And I was almost there.

But a faint noise was keeping me awake, just enough to stop me from stepping over that line into sleep-land. Not a beeping, as I’ve sometimes heard overnight and during the day as a diabetes device alerted me to a High or Low blood sugar. No, this was a vibrating.

Reluctantly pulled back from the doorway where sleep would fully cover me like a blanket, I opened an eye groggily and looked around.

A sleeping wife next to me. The covers pulled over my body. A faint night-time glow from the window off to the side. I’m sure the Riley Dog was nestled on her blanket next to the bed, but I didn’t turn over to look.

Reaching down to my waistline where my insulin pump was secured, I pulled the small pager-sized device up to my open eye to have a look. The backlight provided what I needed to see the message displayed across the screen: “No Delivery.”

Annoyed and still not even close to being awake, I grunted at the device. You know, #likeyoudo in that half-asleep mindset when you’re not even close to being awake.

I’m sure a thought or two went through my mind about WHY that alert was occurring, about the underlying reason for it – bad infusion site, pump tubing kink, reservoir blockage, or just the Sleep Gods bribing the Diabetes Device Gods in order to screw with me.

I’d been unconnected from Dexcom for a day or so and hadn’t yet put in a new sensor, so there was really nothing else to alert me of a problem. This was the time to get up and do a blood test, to identify whether I might have been insulin-deprived for any significant length of time and whether something more than a few clicks of the pump button would be needed.

As sometimes happens, I didn’t listen to that sage internal voice..

I vaguely remember grumbling to myself and saying, “I’ll deal with you in the morning.” I might have sworn at my pump, too.

The decision was clear: simply put the pump on snooze and go back to sleep.

And sleep I did, for the rest of the night. Without batting an eyelid or being awakened by any more pump alarms.

Of course, just because I wasn’t awakened by any pump alarms, that DOESN’T mean they weren’t going off and trying to wake me up.

Yes, apparently they were. I just didn’t hear them.

And that’s why I woke up to pump beeping several hours later, telling me that there was a now a long history of No Delivery and that I was basically depleted of insulin most of the night. Doesn’t help that I’d gone to bed in the 300s, thanks to eating a fat-heavy earlier dinner that night.

A blood test confirmed how I felt: High Blood Glucose.

High as in: You’re higher than the kite Benjamin Franklin set sailing in search of lightening. Ketones, too.

It was a fun morning of bringing the sugars back down and getting the ketones out of my system. By mid-morning, I was back into the 300s and then by noon I was 265. Skipped lunch and got back down into the 100s by mid-afternoon.

Was it worth it? Did I choose the right path, going for those hours of sleep immediately rather than taking 15 minutes to investigate and remedy the pump problem? Probably not. That was the move of a lazy man who just wanted his sleep.

Ironically, my Daily Bible verse that day had been from Proverbs 10:4 and it specifically warned me about this – “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Translation, as I applied it to this situation: “C’mon, Hoskins, don’t be a slacker. Do what you need to, even if it’s in the middle of the night. Or you’ll cause your own poverty in the diabetes world of in-range blood sugars. But if you wake up and be diligent in addressing that No Delivery alarm, you’ll be blessed with good morning numbers.”

My choice sealed the morning’s path.

I know better. Even in retrospect, I know what I should have done. But I didn’t. And, somehow – amazingly – I fully expect to make that same choice again before long. Not every time that alert or a similar one disrupts my sleep, of course. But I’d be willing to guarantee it happens again. Because that temptation to keep sleeping is a strong one for me.

Self-defeating behavior, it is. I guess that’s how I roll sometimes. Luckily, Dexcom will be back on board soon and will hopefully help me deviate from these sleepy-time decisions - even when I don't have the will-power to respond to a pump alarm and get out of bed. God, I hear you. Here's me, trying not to be a slacker.

Because aside from divine beliefs and all that, I just don't like having High blood sugars.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Praying for a Miracle

Please pray for my friends, the Schuhmacher Family, this weekend.

One of our own in the Diabetes Community needs a miracle. Ryan and Meri Schuhmacher have been married for 19 years. They have four sons, ranging in age from 8 - 16 and three of their boys have Type 1 Diabetes. Meri is a superhero D-Mom and shares her family's story on a blog, called Our Diabetic Life.

On February 26, 2012, 40-year old Ryan was taken to the emergency room for an evaluation of numbness and heaviness in his right leg. At that time, a CT scan showed 6 brain tumors and further testing revealed additional tumors in his lungs and abdomen. Meri has written about this here. 

And so, Schuhmacher Family needs our help.

Clicking on the picture below will take you to the Facebook group to keep updated on ways to love and support the family. On Sunday, March 4, we are storming the gates of heaven with prayer and fasting for Ryan, Meri, and their boys. Please join us, and take that to church and those you know.

Three of my friends, Bennet, George and Sara, have written eloquently and very powerfully on this, with additional messages of their own -and I would encourage you to visit those posts.
 




 They are fighting a tough battle and we so need miracle. 

Thank you.