Saturday, 6 October 2012

Bloggers Unite for Diabetes



This week I had the honour of attending the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference in Berlin. The three day trip was organised by animas, as the diabetes community had fed back to them the need to attend industry events such as EASD.

The first day was a "get to know you" day where I met bloggers from around the globe, people who I had only ever spoken to before in 140 characters via twitter. They were people who shared the same enthusiasm and belief's as I did and saw the bigger picture. The food and drink were in full flow as England, Germany, America, Sweden, Australia and Italy came together for a night of story telling connecting and bonding. I have to say that it was one of the best nights that I've had in a long time, laughing chatting and making new friends. I even attempted to calculate Frederik Debong's insulin dose for him on the mySugr app that he created! After I'd had two glasses of wine he had to take over... unfortunately.

On the second day we got to work and attended a 'bloggers summit' held by the German animas team. Kerri Sparling kicked off the session with a presentation of her blog - Six Until Me. Kerri spoke about her childhood and growing up with diabetes, how she found that blogging had helped her and motivated her, how she had started a family against the stigma of being pregnant and having diabetes. This lead on to a Q&A session where we networked and learnt from each other.

Next up was Dr. Brian Levey, Medical Director at Animas. Dr. Levey is leading the artificial pancreas project and gave a presentation on his journey and the creation of the artificial pancreas. The overall intention is an understandable one... safety for the patient. Reducing high and low blood sugars during sleep and exercise as well as keeping a steady balance day and night. There will be many more benefits to this product, much like with the insulin pump and the overall reaction throughout the room was hugely positive.

Then we came to the presentation stage where I learnt from blogs websites and platforms which I hadn't come across before. We were introduced to individual and group projects which were hugely inspirational and motivating to see. Everyone spoke of a journey that they were on, had a story to tell and a smile on their face as they shared that with the room.

Here's a list of blogs and websites which I didn't know about until now:
That afternoon we took off to the EASD conference to wander around the up and coming diabetes technologies and products that were on display. I was amazed at the pumps and how they all worked as this is a treatment which I have never really looked into before. I've been on MDI for 10.5 years now and after this trip I'm finally swaying towards pump therapy! Exciting times! I was like a kid in a candy store bouncing from stall to stall with fellow tweeter Danie. We both grabbed freebies and confused those who were running the stalls when they asked where we worked. The answer; "we're patients" mostly got an "oh" reply and seemed to throw them off balance. But I still got a lot of information out of the stalls, and being a patient I think I took more away and had more interest than the health care professionals would have!
The finale to my experience came that evening when we met with the UK animas team for drinks and a chat. I admit that I was nervous... these were the top dogs who had made it possible for us to be there. I needed to be on my best behaviour and also make sure that I didn't spill anything on anyone! Luckily the whole team were a delight to be with! I spent the evening chatting to the regional business manager, Simon, and his colleague, Ben. I gave Simon a speed lesson in tweeting while he joked about stalkbook and laughed at me sneaking cookies while no one was looking. What amazed me was that Simon talked to me about my needle phobia; he put my mind at rest. A complete stranger who was there for a drink and to relax took time to talk me through the process and to help me when he didn't need to. So many people made me smile inside and out that day.

I nattered to Ben and the rest of the team about my dreams of becoming a diabetes specialist nurse and suddenly it was time to leave... lack of sleep and too much excitement had caught up with me.
What I took away from this overall experience is that people need to be empowered and that can be done by setting good examples, which also need to be real. We need to test theories and not just take peoples word. Good examples will always be found in text books or leaflets lying around waiting rooms, but they aren't always coming from a real experience. Sticking to one way of treating diabetes just does not work and we all know that, so growing your voice to say "I'm going to try a different approach" could be just what is needed. We need more people to get their voices out there and to be heard... so put your bloggers hats on and unite with us for diabetes!


I'm not sure why Iron Man was at the conference. Someone on twitter suggested that he may be a new device for extreme blood glucose testing!

Myself and Danie took over the BMJ stall!

Sanofi... their giant Lantus poster excited me a lot as it has been my only long acting insulin since diagnosis!

Novartis

One Touch

GIANT needle! my life Diabetes care (thankfully not to scale!)

Jewel Pump
     

Janssen

Jewel Pump.. again
Driving an egg while having a hypo... as you do!
...More Jewel Pump. Guess who liked this stall :)


Hypoglycemia Simulator (driving)


One for the road! Jewel Pump
infopia
BG STAR and pens glorious pens
    
MASSIVE BG STAR - not to scale (couldn't fit it in my handbag!)



                          
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