Reflections on Six Months with DSMA Live

Laddie_Head SquareI decided at the beginning of 2013 that I was going to listen to the entire archives of DSMA Live.  To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember why I decided to do it.  So for now, I’ll say I did it “just because.”

DSMA Live Factoid:  The archived podcasts are available through iTunes (search DSMA Live) and at BlogTalkRadio.

Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) is the brainchild of Cherise Shockley.   BlogTalkRadio states that “The mission of DSMA is to promote social networking in all its forms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) in order to educate and support all people affected by diabetes.”  That is already out of date because Cherise has bigger plans.  She realizes that not everyone with diabetes is part of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) and she wants her inclusive message of support to be available to everyone, online or offline.

Because I cannot do justice to the scope of everything that DSMA is involved in, I encourage you to visit the DSMA website.  In addition to DSMA Live on Thursday evenings, you’ll learn about the Wednesday night TweetChat, the ‘Rents show for parents, and the en Vivo! show in Spanish.  There is also information about the monthly Blog Carnival and the weekly WDD Blue Fridays Initiative.

DSMA Live Factoid:  The only really bad show was the inaugural show on October 28, 2010. It was an on-air technical rehearsal where Cherise, George, and Scott spent an hour asking “Can you hear me now?”

iPod Nano DSMAThe early DSMA Live shows were an extension of the TweetChat, and the hosts and featured guest discussed the questions that had been posed the night before.  Over time the shows morphed into what is now an interview and discussion format.

DSMA Live Factoid:  Three of the first five guests interviewed on DSMA Live were named Scott.

The guest list from the first 2-1/2 years of the show is a veritable Who’s Who of the diabetes community starting with the well-known hosts:  Cherise, George Simmons, and Scott Johnson.  If you spend time in the DOC, you’ll recognize the names of the many bloggers and advocates interviewed including Manny Hernandez, Kerri Sparling, Wil Dubois, and Amy Tenderich.

Karen Graffeo, a blogger and the founder of Diabetes Blog Week, made a comment that characterizes the journey of most of the people interviewed.   When asked about the background of Diabetes Blog Week, she said:  “So I started thinking that it would be great if someone did that for the diabetes blog community.  So then I thought that maybe I should try to do it.”  One after another the featured DSMA Live guests saw something that needed to be done and they did it.  They weren’t superstars.  They were people who started writing about their lives and reached out to make the world a better place for everyone affected by diabetes.

DSMA Live Factoid:  Two of the featured guests were 8 years old or younger.

Some of my favorite shows were introductions to people I had not “known” previously.  It was fun to hear the stories about their blogs, podcasts, advocacy groups, and start-up  companies.  Especially unforgettable were the crazy people who climb mountains, participate in triathlons, and drive race cars while juggling the never-ending demands of diabetes.

Also very interesting were the conversations with insiders in the diabetes industry such as Dr. Henry Anhalt, Director of the Artificial Pancreas Program at Animas, Lane Desborough, a Product Strategist at Medtronic, and Sean Gallagher, the Senior Director of Marketing at Insulet Corp (Omnipod).  DSMA Live also introduced me to Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, a physician from Cameroon who is President of the International Diabetes Foundation.

DSMA Factoid:  Art therapist and blogger Lee Ann Thill is the sole member of the 5-Time Featured Guest Club.

As my dog Abby outlined in her post yesterday, I listened to 149 DSMA podcasts in a 6-month period mostly while walking the dog. I got a lot of exercise. I got a lot of education. I got a lot of inspiration.  All great things for a successful life with diabetes.  I encourage you to put on your walking shoes and give DSMA Live a try.

Abby the Black Lab Discusses DSMA Live

Laddie:  In tomorrow’s blog post, I will write about my 6-month journey through the archives of DSMA Live.  DSMA Live is a weekly interview show hosted by Cherise Shockley, George Simmons, and Scott Johnson. DSMA stands for Diabetes Social Media Advocacy and more information can be found at the DSMA website.  Today my dog Abby is giving you a preview of the important details.


Abby_Crown_No background

Most dogs don’t know about DSMA Live. I do because on January 1st of this year, my owner Laddie decided that she was going to listen to all of the archived DSMA Live shows. Since that decision involved neither dog biscuits nor tennis balls, I totally dismissed it and curled up by a sunny window to take a nap.

Hearing the rattle of my harness and leash, I jumped at the opportunity for a walk. Laddie grabbed her pink iPod Nano and thus began our winter and spring of listening to DSMA Live. Well, actually I didn’t listen. My head is not properly shaped for ear phones. I just walked, stalked rabbits, and sniffed dog “Tweets” on mailboxes and fire hydrants.

Now you may not know what DSMA Live is. Neither do I. All I know is that because of this series of podcasts, I was the beneficiary of multiple long walks that far surpassed our normal dog walk frequency and length.

From January 1 until May 16, 2013, Laddie listened to 149 DSMA shows. According to her Fitbit pedometer, our normal pace was a 20-minute mile. Or as I prefer to think of it, we walked 3 miles per DSMA show. We could have gone faster, but this pace included dog potty breaks and socialization with other canine/human combos.

My favorite stat is that in 5-1/2 months, we walked approximately 447 miles accompanied by DSMA Live. That’s an average of 3.3 miles per day. I am indeed a lucky dog and my ever svelte figure is a result of my daily exercise.

Now that we are only listening to current episodes, I realize that the number of my DSMA walks will be reduced. But the addition of spin-offs such as the ‘Rents show and the en Vivo! show is a reminder that there will be a growing number of podcasts to inspire dog walks.

So to other dogs, I say: “I am a DSMA Dog. Are you?”

(By the way, I do not like Wednesday night DSMA TweetChats.  All humans with diabetes totally ignore their dogs during that hour and focus on their iPads instead.)


Choosing a Blog Name

Laddie_Head SquareThe hardest part of starting my blog was choosing a name.  Every website in the Diabetes Online Community seems to have a perfect name and I was convinced that all of the perfect names had already been taken.  Of course that’s silly and I assume that almost everyone struggles to pick a name that captures their personality and attitude towards diabetes along with a bit of whimsy.

The first names I considered were things like Doors Wide Open, One More Day, and A Balancing Act.  These are all very relevant to my diabetes.  In recent years, I’ve slowly  been opening the doors I’ve hidden behind for years in relation to my diabetes.  We all know about doing it one day at a time and for one more day.  We try to stay balanced on the tightrope of Type 1 by juggling the many tasks required to keep our blood glucose somewhere in the zone between dangerously low and off-the-chart high.

Blog Name TakenThe above names were already taken because they apply to everyone’s life, diabetic or not.  Doors Wide Open is a book as well as a jazz band.  One More Day refers to a four-part comic storyline about Spider-Man.  A Balancing Act is a yoga studio in South Carolina as well as the name of a book.

So onward to more names.  I considered A Toast to Type 1 because many of my blogging ideas surface during my second glass of wine.  But that wasn’t the best idea because drinking and diabetes can be a very serious subject and it would be bad form to make light of it.

Then I really got inspired by Diabetes in Counterpoint.  I am a former pianist who enjoys contrapuntal music where diverse melody lines merge into one harmonious composition.  Counterpoint has tons of rules, five species, and even a dissonant type.  What could have more types and dissonance than diabetes?!  But this was way too esoteric and I didn’t want “Diabetes” in my blog title.  Am I still hiding, or do I just want a little more flexibility for my blog?  I vote for the latter.

The next titles are where I started to get into trouble.  I thought about the over-under in sports betting.  I am almost always over or under on my BG readings, so this seemed a good fit.  I will provide no links here, but over-under has some strong sexual overtones No Bad Blog Namesthat I had never heard of and I am lucky not to have gotten far with this idea.

And then I jumped at No Sissies Allowed.  We plus-60 year olds always say that growing old is not for sissies.  Well, I would say the same thing for diabetes.  I couldn’t believe that this domain was still available.  Fortunately I Googled this phrase and found out it has morphed into a very anti-Gay phrase.  Or maybe it always was and I just didn’t know it.

On another track of perfect blog names, I played with Guess and Go.  A nice ring, but I really do test often.  I didn’t want to introduce my endo to social media with that idea.  Then there was Test and Guess followed by Test and Go.

Finally I decided on Test Guess and Go.  I test a lot.  I guess a lot because no matter how much I follow the diabetes rules, it’s always a crapshoot as to what the day will be.  But through 36 years of Type 1 Diabetes, I always go.  It has never dawned on me to stop my life for diabetes.  Surely I’m more neurotic than I would have been without diabetes, but maybe not.  So I went yesterday.  I go today.  And gosh darn it, I’m going to go tomorrow!

Test Guess and Go.

Why Now?

Laddie_Head SquareI’ve thought about starting a diabetes blog for a long time, but I never got very far.  Once or twice I’ve looked at blogging sites and several times I’ve jotted down potential blog names.  What has stopped me?  Laziness maybe, but more likely fear.  Fear of doing something I don’t know how to do.  Fear of starting something that would be a continuing responsibility.  But mostly fear of exposing myself to the world, to my friends, to my family, and I suppose to myself.

I used to be a pianist and accompanist.  I found it easier to play for crowds of 100 to 500 people than I did for 1 or 2 people.  I’m very good at anonymous.  I’m not so good at one-to-one and face-to-face.

The DOC (Diabetes Online Community) has become a family to me.  Most of the blogs I read are written by Type 1 diabetics who are in their 20’s, 30’s, and maybe inching into their 40’s.  A few are older, but most are my children.  They’re the mobile generation.  They blog, they vlog, they friend on Facebook, they Tweet.  Boy, do they Tweet.  They welcome and embrace me, but maybe it’s time for me to step out of their shadow.  I think there is room for my voice in the DOC and I hope that I can help and inspire others  in the way that I have been helped and inspired by others.

Why Now2I would like to thank Scott Johnson who posted my first guest-post at his website in April of this year.  The positive responses that I received from Scott, my family, friends, and the DOC gave me confidence to continue on this journey to start a blog.  I certainly know how to debut at the top by writing what is probably the best post I’ll ever write and by being featured on one of the most popular and long-lived diabetes blogs.  You can find that post here:

I’m  61 years old and have had Type 1 diabetes since age 24 in 1976.  I’ve always had good insurance and have never had to worry about the availability of insulin and test strips.  Insulin pumps and CGM’s have been readily approved.  I have worked hard to live a healthy life with diabetes, but there are days that it is very difficult to do that.  Although I have lots of autoimmune issues and some of the comorbidities that go along with Type 1, I’ve been spared the major complications of eye, nerve, and kidney damage that can occur with long-term diabetes.

The medical system in the United States is changing and I really wonder what the next years will bring for those of us with diabetes.  My current insurance is through the high-risk program in Minnesota and that will change in 2014 when insurance pools with no pre-existing condition clauses become effective under the  Affordable Care Act.  Although my premiums may be reduced, I think that I will end up with poorer insurance with this change.  And before I know it, I will be on Medicare with a new set of rules that will save me lots of money in some areas, but will try to dictate that I live with 3 test strips a day and throw away my CGM because it is not proven technology.

I hope to use my blog to chronicle my journey through life with diabetes.  Many of my posts will be reflections on the last 36 years as well as my opinions on current issues.  I have invited several online friends who are about my age to regularly write posts on this blog.  These are women whom I’ve bonded with in the DOC and they have been an inspiration to me as I’m sure they will be to you.

Thanks for visiting my website and please come back!