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Pavlovian Response To The Sounds Of Diabetes

It’s that well-worn tale of Pavlov and his crazy dogs, the ones that he trained to expect treats whenever a bell was rung.  And whether or not the treats were offered, the dogs learned to respond by salivating, waiting.

Diabetes has made me one of Pavlov’s dogs.  But instead of the chimes of a bell triggering salivation, it’s the sound of the Top Gun theme song coming from my insulin pump, making me check the status of my battery.  Or the sound of my Dexcom letting loose with a BEEEEEEEP!, making me reach for my glucose meter.  The sounds of diabetes are so ingrained in my brain that I don’t think before responding.  My reaction to certain sounds is visceral.

Sometimes the sounds of my diabetes are subtle – Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

The Power Of A Community: A Paradigm Shift To Be Grateful For

Last week (was it only a week ago?  My time-space continuum is completely off kilter these days), I was out in San Francisco for a quick visit at the Lifescan Town Hall meeting.

Okay, I was actually in Milpitas, which is a nice little place that the driver from the airport inadvertently described as, “Why are you going there?” Not exactly the same excitement as the home of the Golden Gate Bridge and other sights I saw from the car, but close.

I was asked to come out and talk about life with diabetes to a large group of Lifescan employees (they make the One Touch meters and they clearly like people who play guitar because Crystal Bowersox and B.B. King are their buddies, so I felt a little musically inept).  I wasn’t asked to talk about my meter, or my pump, or to pimp out any partnerships, etc.  They just wanted to hear about life with diabetes.  Plain life.  Real life.

Because I don’t have a formal bone in my body (all of my bones are in sweatpants and baseball caps), and because I didn’t have any airs to put on, I just stood on that stage showed them our community.  I showed them some of our blogs, and talked about some of our meet-ups.  I showed them that while life with diabetes can be challenging, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Woman Inspired By Her Fellow Diabetic “Sisters”

For the last three days, I was out in San Diego for the Weekend for Women: Celebration of Strength conference, and throughout the course of my quick, two and a half day trip, I met so many inspiring women.  And I heard so many inspiring things.

Brandy Barnes, creator of the Diabetes Sisters organization, opened the session by talking about dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions of life with all kinds of diabetes.  “Fight the mental battle of making our diabetes management a priority, while juggling the competing forces of jobs, family, friends … we have this all in common.”  Everyone in the room was living with type 1, type 2, or LADA (and with one self-proclaimed “Type weird”, Ms. Natalie Sera, who I had the pleasure of meeting and hugging).

Natalie rules.  And all of her dresses have pockets!
“Lets wrap our arms around them and help them feel like they are part of our sisterhood,” Brandy said, encouraging those who have attended the conferences in the past to reach out to new attendees.

That was the theme of the weekend – reaching out and being there.  There were many speakers (and I was very honored to be one of them, on a panel with some fellow insulin pumpers, talking about diabetes and technology), and their topics varied but their messages all contained the common thread of community.

Susan Jung Guzman, Phd and Director of Clinical Services at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, spoke about Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

We Are All Patients

We are all patients, damnit.Two weeks ago, I attended my third year at Kru Research’s ePatient Connections conference, and every year, I’m amazed at how many different industry people show up and showcase their impressive efforts … but how few patients.  But this year, there were a lot of patients.  Lots as in “more than five.”

For a conference with “ePatient” in the title, it was good to finally see more than just a handful of ePatients in the audience.  (And this is thanks, largely in part, to the ePatient Bill of Rights project that took place on September 19th, across the hall from the SXSH event).  And it wasn’t just a handful of diabetes patients – there were many health conditions well-represented at these events.  For me, it was nice to talk about the universal issues that people with chronic illnesses face, instead of drifting around in the bubble of diabetes.  I like stepping outside of our comfortable space and learning about what others are living with.  I need that exposure to other types of patients … keeps me thinking globally.

Part of the panel discussion Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Woman With Diabetes Experiments With Her Collection Of Glucose Meters

I have several One Touch meters, a Freestyle one, and a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor that I consult on a regular basis.  (Not usually at the same time, but I have been doing multiple checks recently.  More on that below.)  I also have an Agamatrix meter and an Accu-chek one, somewhere in the diabetes cupboard in the bathroom, only without any strips that aren’t expired.

And I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to glucose meters.  The variability of these machines makes me crazy in the head, and it caused me a lot of grief when I was pregnant, because my blood sugar goal range at that point was so tight and so specific, and any variability was huge for me.  (I shared some samples of wonky results in this post.)

In the last few weeks, I’ve been doing some experimenting with my meters, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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