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Today I’m talking about cervical screening checks. Because yesterday, I had mine. (Oh, did I mention that I’m an over-sharer?)

Let’s be honest. No woman ever gets excited about having a cervical screen. At least, no woman I’ve ever met. Maybe if they handed out lollypops at the end, (or something more applicable for the area being screened?), we might get more excited, but as things go, rocking up for our scheduled cervical cancer screening is not really one of those things we anticipate with glee. (Or maybe you do. And if so – good for you!)

My OB/GYN – who is now purely my GYN because the OB part of me has shut up shop for good – called me (well, his receptionist did) while I was in Berlin. The call came at some ridiculous hour of the night, so I ignored it, rolled over and went back to sleep, making a note to return the call when I got back to Australia.

I knew that was I was well overdue for a check-up – I’d been thinking I needed to make an appointment and was also a little confused about the new screening procedure and process. It’s changed since my last screening. I knew that pap smears were a thing of the past and that a new cervical screening check had replaced it.

But I didn’t really understand about the change to timeframes or just what the new check was all about. So, I made, and prepared myself for, the appointment.

I’ve known my gynaecologist for a long time now – about seventeen years. He knows diabetes and pregnancy which was why I started seeing him. He was the one who I went to for all my pre-conception care and then he was my OB each time I was pregnant. He has seen me at my absolutely lowest as I dealt with the heartbreak and trauma of recurrent miscarriages. But he also was the one who handed me our daughter the day she was born, so he has seen me at my most elated, too.

This time, I walked in with absolutely no intention of talking about babies, other than mentioning that mine is now fourteen which obviously makes no sense because surely I am still only 36 and I had her when I was three days shy of 31. (This is a lie. No one believes it.) I was there to talk about how hopeless I was because I’d completely neglected thinking about needing a cervical screening check. And have the said check.

There is a reason that I continue to go back to the same doctors for seventeen years. It’s because they don’t judge, and they treat me as though I have a life outside the body part in which they specialise. (Which is good when seeing this particular doctor, because I am more than my vagina.) Before getting to the reason I was there, he asked me how I was and what I was up to. We spoke about the work I was doing. He asked specific questions about my health and asked me how I found the Dexcom that was clearly visible on my upper arm. We started to talk about DIYAPS, and how that was working for me. He wanted to know about my family and how they were, and what sort of a kid the tiny baby he delivered on that day back in November 1998 had become. (She reads a lot more now. And has more sassy opinions.)

Then I mentioned that I had been a little remiss in organising my cervical screening check and started to say how I was usually a lot better at this and that I always, always make sure my diabetes screening was up to date and that I NEVER miss an appointment with my ophthalmologist, but that this one had slipped through the cracks. He didn’t shake his head and tell me to be better. Instead he said, ’It’s great you’re here today. Life is busy and there is a lot going on.’ It may not be healthy to love your gynaecologist, but after that comment I remembered why I had always been so fond of him.

He then explained how the new screening worked, and why the changes were made. He spoke about what was involved today and how long it would take for me to get the results. ‘We call you whatever the result,’ he said and I realised that was a really useful piece of information. If I had a missed call from his rooms in seven to ten days’ time, not knowing that calling everyone was routine, I would have worried that something was wrong until I’d been able to speak to someone.

He started by taking my blood pressure. ‘Is your blood pressure usually okay when you have it checked?’ he asked. ‘Yep. Always fine. Why? Is it high?’ My heart rate was slightly elevated, and I was anxious. (See point above about no one wanting to have this particular screening check.) ‘A little,’ he said. ‘But I know that you’d be anxious about this. It’s nothing to worry about if you have recently had your BP done and it was okay.’ 

I have always appreciated how this doctor, when asking questions, explains why he is asking them. ‘Any changes to your period, bleeding in the middle of your cycle, or bleeding during or after sex?’ He asked, going through what each of these things could mean.

The rest of the examination took all of about 5 minutes. He explained everything that was going on, and I distracted myself during the bit where I had a piece of cold metal inside me by asking about the HPV vaccination.

I’m not sure if that was necessarily the best time to have a conversation about why it’s important to have this vaccine (there’s more about it here, including who the vaccine is for and when they should have it). He told me it protects against the types of HPV that cause around 70% of cervical cancer, as well as other cancers (vaginal, vulval, anal, throat and penile), and protects against genital warts.

We then both had a lot to say about our frustrations with anti-vax lunatics and their anti-science idiocy, and why Pete Evans should be sent to an island (one other than Australia) and left to his paleo devices where he can’t harm anyone else. (Thankfully the cold metal instrument has been removed, and I was covered up by a sheet again by this stage. We were both getting a little ranty and I was waving my hands around; being completely exposed could have made that awkward…)

When I was dressed and sitting opposite him again, he asked if I had any questions. I had a few, and he answered them clearly. I mentioned again that I would make sure that I had future checks as scheduled and he suggested I be less hard on myself.

He’s right, of course. Diabetes alone puts so much pressure on us – as well as all the screening we need to keep on  top of there is the daily stuff too. (I love that he understands diabetes and realises just what it takes to deal with it.) Add to it the other things we need to stay on top of – such as screening of our lady bits – and it’s no wonder that sometimes something will slip through to the keeper.

And of course, there are a number of other reasons that we delay or postpone having this particular check done. For some women, there can concern or embarrassment. Even if we know that the actual procedure takes only minutes, it’s not especially comfortable. And then there are concerns about the state of our lady garden. According to a 2018 survey by a British cancer charity, a third of women won’t make an appointment for a cervical screening if they haven’t waxed or shaved their pubic area, and are embarrassed about how their vulva looks. I could scoff and say how ridiculously shallow, but you bet that I have had that concern too.

I know that this, as with all screenings, is important because early detection of any changes means early treatment and that is always the best approach. And so, I’m trying to stop beating myself up for the fact that I was overdue getting this done and instead pat myself on the back for actually having made and kept the appointment. I’ve done my bit. I now wait for the results and then take it from there.

More information about cervical cancer screening here.

Click for source of image.

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Have you ever heard of an ‘Everesting Challenge’? No? Neither had I until recently. It involves a cyclist climbing a single hill the number of times that’s required to reach a total ascent of 8498 metre to equal Mt Everest. Oh – it gets better. It has to be done in a single ride. It’s known as one of the toughest cycling challenges in the world and I’m exhausted just writing about it. Now I know what it is, I can confidently say that I will never be completing this challenge.

But Neil McLagan is, and he is doing it for a really good cause. He will be raising funds for Insulin for Life (IFL) Global. I’ve written about IFL Global before, and have done some (volunteer) work before, promoting what they do.

As a refresher, IFL Global is a not for profit organisation, raising awareness of the lack of insulin and diabetes supplies in developing countries. The organisation collects and transports insulin and supplies and then distributes them to clinics and health professionals in these countries, as well as offers a complications screening program in places where this simply does not happen.

IFL Global’s mission is that no one should die because they can’t afford or access insulin. Their efforts save lives and help those with diabetes survive and thrive in their communities.

Obviously this is something that I will support – not by starting to do extreme cycling, but by promoting those doing it. And that brings me back to Neil McLagan.

Neil will be undertaking his ‘Everesting Challenge’ by climbing Admiral Road in Bedfordale, Western Australia more than eighty times. Apparently, that is going to take him more than eighteen hours. It’s not the first time that Neil has undertaken this sort of challenge. Last year he rode solo and unsupported from Sydney to Perth raising funds for another diabetes cause. Over twenty days, he spent a total of almost 180 hours on his bike, riding a total of 4011kms (almost 2,500 miles). He says that his ‘Everesting Challenge’ will be one of the most physically and mentally difficult single day challenges. He’s not kidding!

Oh – did I mention that Neil has type 1 diabetes?

He is hoping to raise AUD$20,000, along with a lot of awareness about Insulin for Life Global. Without the work they do, a type 1 diagnosis for many people in the counties where they have a presence would almost certainly mean a drastically shortened life.

This is where you can help.

Look – if you’re inclined to get on a bike and ride it for the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest while fundraising for IFL Global, all the power to you. Please let me know and I promise to throw more than just a couple of bucks your way.

But if you’re like me and would prefer to sit in a café reading about people like Neil, you can still help.

You can make a donation by clicking here. Every donation counts – don’t ever think that $5 won’t make a difference.

And you can follow Neil’s story by liking his Facebook page here and following his adventures, and sharing it with your friends.

Please do consider making a donation to Neil’s efforts. Insulin for Life Global is truly a very important cause and is making a massive difference to the lives if people with diabetes.

Yesterday, Diabetes Australia launched a new campaign called The Lowdown (please read my disclosure statement at the end of this post). It’s all about hypoglycaemia, and designed to get hypos out in the open by encouraging people with diabetes to share the realities of what hypos mean, look and feel like.

I love this campaign because it’s truly about people with diabetes. You’ll see and hear our stories and our experiences, and it will provide a forum for us to learn from each other. (Vote 1 peer support!)

There is stigma associated with hypos. Have you ever had a low and been asked ‘What did you do for that to happen?’. Or has someone ever asked you why you are not better prepared if you find yourself without enough (or any) hypo food on you? Has someone overreacted when you have been low, making you feel that you need to manage them at the same time as dealing with your hypo? Or has someone told you that you shouldn’t be having (as many or any) hypos?

All these things have happened to me and the result was that often I simply wouldn’t say when I was low, or I would downplay the situation. Reading stats such as ‘people with diabetes have on average <insert arbitrary number> of lows a week’ always made me feel like an overachiever, because I could guarantee that I was having more lows than whatever stat was quoted.

One thing I could rely on was that my friends with diabetes never made me feel like lows were my fault, or that I was hopeless because I didn’t have enough stuff with me. More likely, they would silently pass me a few jelly beans or fruit pastilles and leave me to deal with things myself, which is exactly what I need to do when low.

The last thing I need is someone throwing a million things at me (‘Here…I have juice, sweets, sugar, a glucose IV…’)and stressing out (or even worse – saying that Iam stressing them out) and asking every two minutes if I am okay. (I know that people are doing this out of concern. But seriously, the last thing any of us need when we are low is dealing with someone more flustered around us!)

This campaign is for PWD by PWD and that is why I love it. I’m hoping it will help us understand that others are dealing with the same crap around lows that we are. And that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Getting things out in the open is always a good way to reduce stigma and make people feel comfortable talking and seeking the help they may need.

So, let’s talk about lows. Share your story and read what others have to say – remembering that, as always, we are not a homogenous group and you are likely to read a variety of different stories. That’s great! Hypos affect people in different ways. For some they are significant and can be terribly scary, and for others they are simply an inconvenience that just needs to be dealt with and then they can move on. No one’s experience is any less or more legitimate than another’s.

Just some of the people who have already contributed to #TheLowdown2019

 

How to get involved

It’s easy!

Share a video or photo about how hypos make you feel. Share your post on your social media account (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) using the hashtag #TheLowdown2019. Please make sure you use the hashtag so we can find your contribution and share it and add it to our website.

If you’re not on social media, you can email a photo of yourself (perhaps holding up a card with one word which best describes how hypos make you feel) to thelowdown@diabetesaustralia.com.au

This page of The Lowdown website explains more.

Disclosure

I work for Diabetes Australia and have had some input into the development of this campaign. I am writing about it because I hope that it will get more people engaged and interested in what the campaign has to say, and encourage contributions.

I have not been asked by anyone at Diabetes Australia to write about The Lowdown here or on any other social media platform (but I’m sure they’re pleased I have).  

Transparency is always important to me and I declare everything relevant (and not relevant!) on Diabetogenic. You need to understand and consider my bias when I am writing and sharing. You can always contact me if you have any questions about this.

So, something happened to me in Berlin that hasn’t happened for a while. I had a hypo. Actually, I had more than one.

In one of those perfect storm situations where everything that could go wrong did, I found myself with a red Loop, no CGM, and in a pissed off mood. My Dex sensor had died in the morning and I couldn’t restart it because my transmitter died at the same time. I knew this was coming – I’d had the warnings. And I had a plan. I would use the reset app and get the transmitter going again.

Except it didn’t reset. I checked and double checked that I was doing all that I needed to do, but the bloody thing wouldn’t work. I still wasn’t too stressed – I had a back up transmitter with me, plus I was at a tech conference surrounded by DIY tech nerds (I say this with great fondness).

I put it all out of my mind, and focused on DOCDAY, launching our #SpareAFrown stunt and then getting on with the rest of the day.

Three hypos later (thanks conference hypo syndrome, running around Berlin like a headless chook and more activity than normal), I was exhausted at the end of the day.

But, as I gorged myself on fruit pastilles I realised a few things. I realised that fruit pastilles really aren’t all the tasty and actually a little gag-y when needing to get them down quickly.

Bleurgh

And I realised that the return of hypos made me very annoyed. ‘Three hypos today,’ I announced. ‘This is lousy.’ I complained to anyone who would listen, and probably stamped my foot a little too.

But there is a silver lining. Kind of. As I whinged and moaned about my day of lows, a friend asked if I had symptoms for my hypos. I stopped and thought about it for a moment. ‘Yes…I felt them all,’ I said. ‘You’ve got your hypo symptoms back,’ he said.

I hadn’t thought about that, but it was true. I had felt the undeniable heightened anxiety that indicated that I was low for each of the three hypos I’d had that day. My heart rate had increased a little – not too much, but enough for me to notice. And that feeling was confirmed with a finger prick check.

These hypos were relatively easy to manage – a few of the bleurgh fruit pastilles and all was good. If I had to explain them in one word it would be ‘annoying’. But I did feel exhausted and drained. I was more than just jet lag and conference-tired; I was jet lag, conference and hypo-tired.

By the end of the day, I had my back-up transmitter paired and the two hour warm-up passed. I calibrated and my Loop turned green, and said a little prayer of gratitude to the Loop gods. The hypos stopped, and the next day I went back to ticking along as I have become accustomed after eighteen months of Looping.

And that’s where I’ve been since then. Absolutely one of the best things about Loop is the way that it helps me manage lows. I’m not for a moment saying that the system is so perfect that there is no risk of lows. Of course there is. But these days, I get enough warning and the system does its bit so that a mouthful of juice or a couple of jelly beans is all I need to manage any incoming lows.

That day was the most I’ve thought about my own hypos in a long time. Of course, I think about hypos in general a lot. Being on the PAC for HypoResolve means that I talk and think about it a lot. And other initiatives, or talking with friends with diabetes means that it’s never a topic of conversation all that far from mind.

Which brings me to this…

There is a new website being launched by Diabetes Australia about hypoglycaemia. The idea behind it all is to reduce the stigma associated with hypos and also to encourage people with diabetes to share their own experiences of living with lows. Diabetes can be such an isolating condition – we know that. Hypos are part of the deal for so many of us. And yet, many of us are afraid to talk about it too much for fear we’ll be told that we’re not managing our condition properly.

This new project hopes to bring the conversation out into the open a little more and you can get involved.

If you are an adult with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes on insulin, share what hypoglycaemia means to you, or even just share the word you would use to describe hypos. Email a photo and your words to thelowdown@diabetesaustralia.com.auand you could feature on the new website. Or, share a photo holding the word you would use to describe hypos using the hashtag #TheLowdown2019.

 

 

My third ATTD, and as soon as I started reading through the program, flagging the sessions I planned to attend and the technology I was keen to get my hands on and learn more about, a familiar feeling started to settle over me. It was there the first time I attended the conference and again last year.

And that feeling is that this conference, more than any other, reminds me just how unlevel the diabetes landscape is. With the shiniest of the shiny and newest of new technology and the most impressive treatment options available to people with diabetes on show, the vast gap between the haves and have nots is stark.

I was not the only person to acknowledge this. My first full day in Berlin saw me in an advisory committee meeting with diabetes advocates from across Europe, and when asked about the most pressing issues in diabetes, access was at the top of the list for every single one of us. Most (if not all?) of us in that room live in places with outstanding funding and reimbursement programs for diabetes drugs, technology and education – having to go without or ration insulin isn’t something we have ever needed to consider. Even those of us self-funding CGM are in a position of extreme advantage to be able to cover the significant out of pocket expense. But we all know that for millions of people across the world, this is not the case.

And then, later in the week at the Ascensia Diabetes Social Media Summit, another issue that came up again and again was choice. Choice refers to range of factors in diabetes. Choice of the type of technology we use, including the different brands; choice of the healthcare setting we feel best suits our brand of diabetes; choice of the specific healthcare professionals we see. It is also the freedom to be comfortable with our choice of technology, not feeling we need to conform to what others believe is the right thing.

But just how real is the whole idea of choice in diabetes? And when it comes to technology, how much of the decision about what we are using and how we are managing our diabetes is truly our own?

When access to basic education and treatments is severely limited, there is rarely any choice at all. In some places, a diabetes diagnosis is life and death, and surely in those cases all that people are choosing is life. How they manage that is probably not contemplated at all. In countries where diabetes does actually equal a death sentence, no one is debating whether TIR and A1c is how they would like to track their diabetes management.

But we don’t need to look to countries where outcomes are still so desperate to see lack of choice. Just this week, a very distressed mother of a young child with diabetes called me because they had just been told they were not permitted to use the pump they had chosen after careful deliberation and research.

This isn’t uncommon. Diabetes clinics across Australia make it difficult for PWD to be able to use the technology we have decided is the best choice for us. Sometimes that means not being able to use the specific technology we want (i.e. refusing to sign the necessary paperwork for a pump), or it could mean not being given the right to choose the brand of device we prefer.

At ATTD, I frequently heard about how healthcare is being transformed, and that may be true for those of us not disadvantaged by the country where we live and are trying to access care. We should celebrate the advances being made and the better outcomes so many of us have seen. But at the same time, we need to find a way to not get so far ahead of ourselves that we leave the most vulnerable further and further behind.

Click for original tweet.

Let me tell you what is worse than jet lag. Jet lag combined with food poisoning. These are the two extra circles of hell Dante forgot about.

While I am recovering and trying to get my body to accept coffee again, here are some photos from last week’s ATTD conference which was in equal measure amazing, overwhelming, frustrating, intimidating, brilliant and exhausting. I’ll explain more in coming posts, but for now, enjoy the images.

How to deal with jet lag when arriving in Europe #1: night time walk to major tourist site and be amazed.

How to deal with jet lag when arriving in Europe #2: find (half) decent coffee.

How to deal with jet lag when arriving in Europe #2.1: drink all the coffee.

And then drink some more.

#docday is always a highlight. Little dogs called Jamaica make it even better. (Jamaica on the left; Bastian on the right.)

Hello Solo… New pumps headed our way.

MySugr is ALWAYS on message.

Flavour of the conference #1: DIYAPS

Flavour of the conference #2: Time in Range

Vegetables. I craved them.

Because there were so, so, so many dense carbs!

Not that I was complaining. (Especially when mini doughnuts came in Diabetogenic colours!)

Oh – did I say that #SpareARose was mentioned? A lot?

Such as at #docday. (Grumps looking especially grumpy because I’d just announced #SpareAFrown.)

And then? Then there was the smile-a-thon, as we smashed through target after target.

Next week, I’ll go into detail about some of the different sessions, highlights and satellite events I attended. It was a frantic few days – so worthwhile in every possible way. And as always at these conferences, finding those who live diabetes – themselves or with a loved one – provided the necessary grounding throughout the conference. This year, that support was even more pronounced with every single person who was asked to step up to promote #SpareARose doing so in spades. This is all the community. That is what it is all about…

DISLCOSURE

I attended the ATTD conference in Berlin. My (economy) airfare and part of my accommodation was covered by DOCLab (I attended an advisory group meeting for DOCLab), and other nights’ accommodation was covered by Roche Global (I attended the Roche Blogger MeetUp). While my travel and accommodation costs have been covered, my words remain all my own and I have not been asked by DOCLab or Roche Global to write about my attendance at their events or any other aspect of the conference. 

Although Valentine’s Day is over and florists are back selling red roses at a reasonable price, the Spare A Rose, Save a Child campaign is still going. We run until the end of February which means that there are still ten days to go.

The tally for 2019 is already looking strong. We have hit just over $28,000, and we know there is another $8,000 or so pledged from a friend of the campaign, so we’re sitting around $36,000.

And that brings us to today’s blog post which actually begins its story back in August last year, and it goes like this…

One afternoon, I was working from home and an email came in from Scott Johnson. Scott is awesome and I adore him; and was intrigued by the subject title: ‘An idea from my dad’. Scott’s dad (who is clearly as awesome as Scott) did indeed have an idea. He thought that a great way to get people to donate to Life for a Child would be to get a smiling photo of the frowniest of them all in the DOC – The Grumpy Pumper. And I was charged with the task of convincing him to do it.

To be honest, I thought that this was not going to be an easy ask. There are literally hundreds of photos of Grumps online sporting his trademark frown. (See exhibit A) Convincing him to smile – and smile in a photo for all to see – was not probably going to be met with a lot of resistance.

Exhibit A

The conversation went like this:

Me: So Grumps, Scott’s dad thinks that you smiling in a photo should be used as an incentive to get people to donate to Life for a Child.

Grumps: Are you fucking joking? (Pause) Oh, okay. I’ll smile, but don’t get used to it.

We kind of forgot the idea, but with #SpareARose in full swing and the 2019 tally being so close to the $40k mark, we thought that now was the time to bring out this idea and see if it has legs.

Here is the deal. If our tally hits $40K by Friday night (Berlin time), Grumps is going to #SpareAFrown, and get his smile on at the MySugr event that is happening at ATTD.

This is where you come in. #SpareARose is a community initiative. It was started and is run by the diabetes online community. It is owned by us and it is a wonderful example of the community taking care of one another around the world. Grumps is a part of this community, and a part of the #SpareARose family, and he is a grumpy bastard. All good reasons to make a donation.

We’re calling on the community to step and donate to get us to $40K. If you have already donated, thank you. Is there any way you can throw in another $5? If you have been meaning to donate, but haven’t managed to do it yet, please do it now. Share the donation link with everyone you have ever met.

And share the #SpareAFrown idea, to get Grumpy to use muscles in his face that just don’t get a work out and help us get to $40,000, all of which will be donated to Life for a Child to provide insulin to children who would otherwise not be able to access it.

Let’s get Grumps to #SpareAFrown to save a child.

Click on the rose to donate.

DISLCOSURE

I am currently at the ATTD conference in Berlin. My (economy) airfare and part of my accommodation has been covered by DOCLab (I attended an advisory group meeting for DOCLab), and other nights’ accommodation has been covered by Roche Global (I will be attending the Roche Blogger MeetUp). While my travel an accommodation costs have been covered, my words remain all my own and I have not been asked by DOCLab or Roche Global) to write about my attendance at either events. 

I was up bright and early this morning, rushing around to get ready for a flight to Brisbane. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, babe,’ I said to Aaron as I was pulling a dress over my head, brushing my teeth and checking to see what time the cab was arriving. ‘I didn’t get you anything.’ This announcement isn’t a symptom of twenty years of marriage; it’s not even because we are disorganised; and it’s not because we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (although, to be perfectly honest, before getting involved in #SpareARose, we really didn’t even acknowledge this Hallmark day).

These days, Valentine’s Day is a thing in our house, but purely because we’re all about spared roses and empty vases. And this year, Spare a Rose cookies.

Flowers die, children shouldn’t. It’s tragic that we even have to say that in 2019. But we do. Because there are still parts of the world where a type 1 diabetes diagnosis is a death sentence due to lack of access to insulin, and basic diabetes supplies and education.

If you can, please make a donation to #SpareARose. You money will go to Life for a Child and provide insulin to a child with diabetes. Don’t take my word for why this is important; here is Brandon telling his story and sharing how donations such as those raised as part of #SpareARose have helped him to fulfil his dreams. Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Last week, the BMJ published a piece I wrote with the Grumpy Pumper. It was part of their ‘What Your Patient is Thinking’ series which includes stories from people sharing their experiences of living with a variety of health conditions, or using health services.

We wrote about the intersection between language and diabetes-related complications and why language matters so much any time this topic is raised. This is our latest piece on the issue (read the PLAID Journal article here, and something we wrote for diaTribe here). We may appear to be one trick ponies, but it seems the appetite for this issue has not in any way diminished – which is good, because there’s lots more to come! (We’re not one trick ponies – I for one can talk for hours about why the fax machine should be made extinct in healthcare.)

It’s been fascinating – and a little overwhelming – to read the responses to the article after it was shared on a variety of social media platforms at the end of last week, and then again over the weekend. It’s also been heartbreaking when people have told stories about how HCPs have spoken about diabetes-related complications in ways that have had negative effects.

It’s refreshing to see many HCPs (including those from outside the diabetes world) sharing and commenting on the article. Much of what we have written is applicable beyond diabetes. It doesn’t matter what health condition someone is diagnosed with; everyone wants to be treated with kindness and compassion and to not be blamed or shamed.

A couple of HCPs have said that after they read the article, they will now consider changing the way the speak. I love this piece from a CDE in the US who said that she honestly thought the words she was using when discussing diabetes-related complications were reassuring until she read our perspective, and now understands that there are better ways to frame the conversation. We only hope that this will lead to PWD feeling less judged and more supported, and not afraid to talk about what is still a taboo topic for so many.

The diabetes and language landscape is broad. I know that there are many who roll their eyes and say that actually, language doesn’t matter, and perhaps we should be focusing on more pressing issues, but I wonder if they are perhaps focussing on issues that they don’t think are really important.

But there is a lot more to this issue than, for example, the debate between being called ‘a person with diabetes’ or ‘diabetic’ – or if it even matters. Regardless of what the specific issue is, we are hoping is that people understand that words really do matter; they have far-reaching consequences; they determine how people feel about their diabetes; and that the right words have the potential to make people feel better equipped to manage their diabetes as best they possibly can.

Please read the BMJ article – it is freely accessibly – and share it with your networks. If you have diabetes, take a copy to your next HCP appointment and leave it for them to read. The way that we make real, sustainable change is to keep pressing a point, and explain why it is important. Hopefully this piece has gone some way to doing that.

The illustration that was commissioned for the print version of the article. Artist Rose Lloyd did such a great job of getting across the messages in the article!

Have you noticed how the social media feeds of many folks in the DOC are starting to look a little rosy? It’s a veritable florist out there at the moment, with lots of people talking and sharing information about #SpareARose.

I’m resharing is a recycled vlog from last year where I suggested that we try to get #SpareARose outside of the DOC and into the conscience of a broader audience. Watch my over-caffeinated rantings…and then tell someone about #SpareARose and ask them to donate.

The address for donations is: www.LFACInternational.org/SpareARose

(If this is your first time here, you may be wondering what’s #SpareARose? It’s a campaign that was developed by some pretty amazing advocates from the diabetes online community back in 2013. The idea is simple: send eleven roses instead of twelve to you love this Valentine’s Day and donate the money you saved (about USD$5 / AUD$7) to #SpareARose. Your donation will go directly to Life for a Child and provide a month of life-saving insulin to a child with diabetes. Spare a rose, save a child. Sounds like a pretty special Valentine’s Day gift to me.)

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