Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Diabetes Advocacy Plan

Disclaimer: Diabetes Hands Foundation provided me with a scholarship to MasterLab 2016 which included transportation, lodging, and conference admission. However all opinions posted about the event are my own. Thank you!

MasterLab 2016 was such a wonderful experience! It was run a little different this year, but overall I was happy with the event. I would have enjoyed more time collaborating and getting to know the other advocates (especially the Latino group, full of energy!) Several people have written about their experiences. You can read about them here. I'm going to write more about what I learned about myself and advocacy.

During MasterLab 2016, we were given a workbook and asked to fill it out during and at the end of each session. The idea was that the workbook would guide us in creating our own advocacy plan. 

Confession time: I guess sometimes teachers make the worst students. I didn't fill mine out during the conference. I made notes on a couple pages, but I really didn't grasp how useful of a tool this was until I hear others reading the "Diabetes Advocates Mad-Libs" at the end of the book. The last page took key points from each of the previous pages and combined them all into a nicely written advocacy plan. Well, I finally filled mine out - tonight. Yes, 22 days later. I wish I would have done this three weeks ago! (Forgive me, Mike!)

Below you will find my advocacy plan using the template and prompts from the MasterLab "Personal Advocacy Plan" workbook. (Click on the link to get your own workbook!)

I believe that...
People with Type 2 diabetes need access to the tools they need to manage their disease without stigma and a one size fits all approach.

But it doesn't have to be that way. I want to live in a world where...
The patient and the medical team both have access to factual information and the resources needed.

If more people understood...
Type 2 diabetes does not need the stigma of blame, rather care and understanding with the tools and resources individualized to help each person live a healthy life.

Then we would eliminate...
People with Type 2 living with stigma and blame every day, making it a struggle to reach out for the resources and tools they need.

The next thing I will do to combat this problem is...
I plan to start with my own doctor, educating him in a non-confrontational way during my own appointments to help him understand diabetes in a person, not a textbook.

I recognize that I'm not the only one doing this work. When possible, I will try to partner with...
Those that are also working to make a difference, like the diabetes online community (DOC), to help guide me toward reliable and valid resources to share.

And I understand that I can make a greater impact if I am healthy. Therefore I plan on...

Doing the things that make me happy and rejuvenate me without guilt.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Can't go to #MasterLab?

This will be my third year at MasterLab, a day full of advocacy sessions. I've been honored to receive a scholarship to attend through Diabetes Hands Foundation for my work as a Diabetes Advocate. My travel, hotel, and conference fees have been covered. Of course all the thoughts, opinions, excitement, and selfies that will flood Facebook, Twitter, and my blog are my own. (Disclaimer... check!)

We have been given information about how those of you who can't be there can attend virtually. Here's the scoop:
We are going to attempt to stream the MasterLab sessions LIVE next Wednesday using PERISCOPE. There is a chance that technology won't play please be patient and understanding! Follow Diabetes Hands Foundation on Periscope at: and follow us on Twitter to get the specific URL to the live stream on Wednesday morning. And like the previous two MasterLab events, video of all of the speakers will be archived on YouTube shortly after the event.
Diabetes Hands Foundation can be found on Twitter at: @diabeteshf  Videos of previous years can be found on their website for 2014 and 2015

I hope you join us! Watch for #MasterLab on Twitter! The official event is Wednesday, July 6, but the excitement starts NOW!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Temptation and Frustration

My mantra when dealing with diabetes is "Moderation not deprivation." I use this often, especially when someone tells me I can't eat something because I have diabetes.
I do know there are things I "can't" have because I admit that I have trouble with moderation. Girl Scout cookies are toward the top of this list. Those tempting foods that are just too good to have in moderation. 

Recently our town had their yearly festival that most towns have. The carnival and the crafters. The performers and the food. Oh the food! 

My two favorite fair items would probably be a lemon shake-up and a funnel cake. Oh wait! The yumminess of the fried Snickers! Ok, three favorite things. Thankfully the lemon shake-up vendor (a local barbershop group) will make their with Splenda or without sugar if you ask. Yes, it's not as sweet, but it has a lot less carbs that way. However, I have yet to find a low-carb funnel cake or fried Snickers. Well you can have it without the powdered sugar, but how many carbs are still left?

There was that temptation. Oh the atmosphere just calls you to those food vendor stands with their yummy goodness. Yes, I admit I gave in. I ordered myself a fried Snickers, hold the powdered sugar please. I didn't order myself a funnel cake, though I did get two for my kids to share. More temptation: They didn't eat it all. Yes, I had some, reminding myself that I didn't have a whole one.

Yes, I dealt with some frustration with myself. But then I thought about it. Moderation not deprivation. Our town festival is only once a year. I had a very low carb lunch. I was walking around quite a bit, burning off many of those carbs. I decided I was more frustrated with the disease than my choices. It's frustrating that those of us living with diabetes even need to make these choices.

Reminding myself that I can balance temptation and frustration with moderation and goals is what keeps me going.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Educational Update

Last year I completed a Masters of Science in Education with an emphasis on Reading. In other words, I got a masters in reading. It was a big accomplishment as a mom of five working full time. I'm usually not one to brag about my accomplishments, though I did share my feelings on this blog. That was a year ago and I'm still proud of my degree.

Well today came the cherry on top. In order to received a state endorsement as a Reading Specialist, not only did I need to complete the masters program but also two years of full-time teaching. Since I started the program while working as a substitute teacher and finished it during my first year of teaching, I had to wait an additional year in order to meet the years of teaching requirement. Last month I finished my second year of teaching. Yesterday I went to the university and turned in my paperwork. Today I got an email from them saying they entered the information on the state's website, and all I had left to do was go online and pay the fee.

After doing just that, I sat and stared at "Reading Specialist" that was now included in my list of endorsements. My hubby came by and I said, "Look! I'm officially a Reading Specialist!" with tears streaming down my face.

There were so many times I wanted to give up. More times than I'd like to admit. I'm thankful for my husband, my children, my classmates, professors, friends, coworkers, and even sometimes strangers for encouraging me on my journey. It wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Oops - Missed #dblog Week!

This year's Diabetes Blog Week came at a really busy time for me. It was the last week of school for me and my first graders. Six and seven year olds are very busy, especially when we're at the end of a school year. I feel bad that I missed posting during the official week (May 16-20), so I'm planning to use the next few days to post my own belated #dblog week posts. Look out for them really soon!


Monday, May 2, 2016

How Deeply Rooted Connections Helped Me After #HealtheVoices16

In April I was given the privilege of joining about 100 online health advocates in Chicago for Health eVoices 2016. This event was sponsored by Janseen (see disclaimer below), but it was all about the advocates.  In the short time we were there I learned so much about conditions such as MS, Crohn's, HIV, and RA. I do want to post about the actual conference, but first I want to write about how "deeply rooted connections" affected me afterwards.

The conference was April 15-17, 2016 (Friday-Sunday). I actually arrived on Thursday, April 14 for a Type 2 diabetes summit called 2ruth in Numbers (more about that in another post as well). On Saturday morning, my right foot was hurting. I didn't know if I misstepped on a curb or an uneven sidewalk or if it was just from standing a lot. I'm a first grade teacher, so standing all day is normal for me. This was different than the "normal" pain I experience. I thought it wasn't anything much, so I just kept on going. However the pain continued on Sunday.

Back to work on Monday and the pain was getting worse. After dismissing my students, I decided to call the doctor's office to see if by chance there was an opening. Although my primary care physician didn't have an opening, the nurse practitioner did. I told them I was on my way. To rule out a possible stress fracture, x-rays were ordered. Unfortunately I had to wait two days for the result because of the nurse practitioner's schedule. The call came in on Wednesday. No break though I showed signs of "mild degenerative changes." HUH? What's that? I asked the nurse to consult with my primary care doctor to see if this was something normal for someone my age, then hit Google while I waited for my doctor's nurse to call back.

She confirmed what Google had already told me. I have arthritis in my right foot. It's very possible it's in my left foot as well. Not something a first grade teacher who is constantly on her feet wants to hear. Nor a person with Type 2 diabetes who uses walking as her primary form of exercise. However this is where those deeply rooted connections came into play.

The first person I contacted was my new friend, Rick, who blogs at RADiabetes. Rick has Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. He had read my blog and waited for me after a conference session to introduce himself. What a great advocate and resource he is! Of course he was the first one I thought of when the nurse told me I have arthritis. I knew he'd be one to have some answers for me. Of course he didn't disappoint! Thank you, Rick, for the resources you provided! I still need to spend time looking at what you sent, but I promise I will!

I went to Health eVoices with the goal of becoming a better advocate. I walked away with connections for not just myself, but others who may have questions about other health conditions. Thank you for giving us the chance to network, Janssen! It was an amazing experience!

Disclaimer‬: Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Advocacy with Other Advocates at #HealtheVoices16

As I sit here enjoying a ride to Chicago via Amtrak (and enjoying their free WiFi), I'm reflecting on my journey ahead.

Since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2008 after five runs with gestational diabetes, I've be involved with advocacy in varying degrees. I've raised money through the American Diabetes Association's walks (Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes). I've attended MasterLab for the last two years. I've been actively seeking out issues that need my action in contacting legislators though the American Diabetes Association and Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). However, this weekend I'll be doing something different. I'll be working on advocacy with people that may not be dealing with diabetes.

There are patient and caregiver advocates for probably every medical and mental health issue. Some are just starting out, but many have been very successful in their advocacy efforts. The pharmaceutical company, Janssen, is bringing together online advocates from various causes to share and collaborate this weekend at a conference called HealtheVoices.  This is happening in Chicago with the forecast of nice weather and new friendships. I'm excited to learn more about what advocates from different areas have accomplished and get tips to make my own advocacy efforts stronger while still keeping balance in my life. Advocacy doesn't have to be a full-time job.

As a prequel of sorts, Janssen is also bringing a group of people with Type 2 diabetes together a day early for an event they're calling 2ruth In Numbers. I have the honor of being included in both groups. This is the first time I've been at this type of event. I was invited last year but was not able to make it due to other obligations. I will be blogging more about this event, so keep an eye out.

I am thankful for this opportunity and thankful to Janssen for inviting me. As my disclaimer below states, they are paying for my expenses related to this trip. However all thoughts and feelings I share about this event are purely my own. (Oh and I also want to thank Amtrak for the free WiFi!)

Disclaimer‬: Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.