Showing posts from March, 2019

Diabetes Advocate Kim Hislop: An Inspiration Even During Kidney Failure

One of many beloved friends in the Diabetes Online Community was longtime type 1 advocate Kim Hislop, from New Hampshire. She was a DiabetesMine Patient Voices winner at one time, just after  she'd received a kidney transplant from her mother-in-law in late 2013. The 30-something New Englander was diagnosed with T1D in the late 1990s as a teenager, and would go on to be an inspiration and true friend for so many within our DOC -- even in the face of several diabetes complications, including  retinopathy and kidney failure. Through it all, Kim kept an inspirational outlook and was determined even in her final weeks to continue traveling the world as she'd always done. Personally, I met Kim at the Diabetes UnConference and knew her online, as well as sharing a passion for The Walking Dead TV show. I was just a fan of the show, while she took it to another level with a deeper fandom, taking part in regular visits to the Walker Stalker Con event and a zombie-themed cruise. All of t

Eight Hours Inside Bigfoot's Diabetes Lair

Entering the Bigfoot Biomedical headquarters is a true Silicon Valley experience -- from the exuberant youthful-startup feel of the building design to the bold decorations on the walls, an ultra high-tech "virtual simulation lab" and a manufacturing assembly floor that’s eager to start cranking out advanced diabetes devices. This four-year-old company doesn't have a product on the market just yet, but has huge ambitions to change the D-world with its Automated Insulin Delivery (AID) systems that will hopefully be ready for market within the next couple years. Now 110+ people strong, this startup’s in the crucial final stages of product development for its system components, which will include both an insulin pump and connected insulin pen, giving users a choice of dosing delivery method. They plan to offer a bundled subscription model, providing customers all the necessary supplies with a single prescription and order. Until now, their future products have be

The Joy of Writing and Insatiable Learning

You never know what an early airport arrival can mean for your soul. This happened to me earlier today, opening my eyes to a feeling that's been brewing for awhile now and blossoming into a soul-soothing and spirit-lifting revelation ripe with life perspective. Not to mention, inspiration by Bill Gates, Leonardo da Vinci, Dr. Frederick Banting, random airport strangers and paintings of famous past and present Chicagoans sketched onto glass panes at a hotel bar. Whoa, dude -- deep thoughts! As you can see, the words are flowing and my brain is in full gym mode, mid-workout on the weights... My experience began at the airport gate where I arrived an hour before my flight boarding. With a hot cup of coffee I turned to my writing tasks overflowing on my To Do list. Instead of eyeing my smartphone or opening up the MacBook to write, I opted for pen and paper. Sure, I did post on Facebook first because that's what you do in 2019, right? But that's as far as it went. M

Changing Guard at Tandem Diabetes Care: Former CEO Kim Blickenstaff Tells All

In the news recently is how Tandem Diabetes Care’s longtime CEO Kim Blickenstaff is stepping down, transitioning to a newly created executive chairman role on the company’s governing board. (F ormer COO John Sheridan will take over as the new chief exec.) Don't forget, in the past year, San Diego-based Tandem has come back from the brink in a way that investors have described as a "miracle recovery" unseen in the med tech space. Under Blickenstaff's leadership, they made this turnaround after Tandem came dangerously close to joining the ranks of pump companies that have gone under in the past decade -- within 60 days of that actually happening, he says! We were privileged to talk with Blickenstaff recently about his experience establishing Tandem, eventually launching the first touchscreen insulin pump in 2012, to where we are today -- with the company's groundbreaking closed loop technology now on the verge of leading the industry (as the only curre

How "Non-Medical Switching" is Harmful in Diabetes and Beyond

These are strange times, when we have to think about insurance companies and medical equipment suppliers like they’re our doctors. No, of course they aren’t ... But they're acting like it, using strong-arm tactics couched in language like “preferred brand” to force specific products and treatments on patients despite doctors’ best advice. Phrases like “therapeutically equivalent” are bantered about, despite the fact that in many cases, changing up meds and devices can jeopardize our health. This is the world of Non-Medical Switching , where "payers" (health insurance companies) call the shots despite without necessarily listening to the medical advice of our healthcare professionals. It's nothing new. Those of us living with diabetes have faced these hurdles for years, sometimes more dramatically based on how much an insurer or pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) decides to dig their heels in. While we scream, "Prescriber Prevails!" because it should

A Conversation With My Dog About Doctors

The dog and I had a deep conversation recently. OK, fine. I'll be honest: It was mostly me ranting, with her just watching and listening. Every so often, she'd wag her tail, raise her ears or tilt her head inquisitively. Mostly, the dog was there to listen and offer moral support. You see, I had a doctor's office visit recently. We've been back for nearly four years now and have had the same Michigan-based HMO policy during that time. It's great insurance coverage and I am very thankful for it, but it's a bit frustrating as to the headaches I must endure as a part of the process. For instance, the endocrinologist that I've seen for 3+ years now is one of the best. And while he's cool with unofficially being a point-person for my healthcare since 99.9% of it relates to my T1D, it's not official and my insurance requires a Primary Care Physician. That means in order to see my endo or any other doctor who's basically a "specialist,"