Diabetes Social Media Summit – Part 1

I felt privileged, honoured and grateful to be invited by Diabetes Australia Victoria to attend the first ever Australian Diabetes Social Media Summit. This was held in Melbourne on World Diabetes Day – 14th of November.

Click on the image below to find out more about World Diabetes Day.

This exciting event brought together leaders in diabetes social media from around Australia to look at how online communications feature in increasing attention on diabetes and bringing together the diabetes community. The delegates were selected because of either their blog or social media profile as they believed that we would bring to the event expertise and knowledge in how to grow the focus on diabetes in social media and help shape its agenda.

Just being invited was absolutely exciting for me! Especially as I desperately want the Diabetes On-line Community – DOC to have more of a presence here in Australia. It is such an amazing source of support and sense of community and I believe people living with diabetes here in Australia are not even aware of how much they need it. You just don’t know what you don’t know.  Also, on-line is global but it would be nice to have some Aussie accents out there too! This has already started with the launch of the tweetchat on Tuesday evenings #OzDOC (Click here to view their Facebook page) but more people need to know about it and/or should get involved.

So already excited about going, when I read that Kerri  Morrone Sparling was the key-note speaker at the event I was beside myself. If you don’t know who Kerri is – really? – here is a little explanation. I have quoted what DA Vic wrote on the invite as I couldn’t have said it better.

Kerri has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 25 years. She is the creator and author of www.sixuntilme.com , one of the first and most widely read diabetes patient blogs, reaching a global audience of patients, caregivers and industry. Kerri is a passionate advocate for all things diabetes and presents regularly at conferences and advocacy events. She currently works full-time as a writer and social media consultant.”

The program for the event also included open forum discussions facilitated by Renza Scibilia who is the Type 1 Team Manager at DA-VIC regarding the benefits on the already existing DOC, how can we promote and get involved, problems and fears that may exist within the Medical Professionals accepting and promoting a DOC culture within Australia, what is our role as a consumer or patient when dealing with industry and the pro’s and con’s of dialog between the two, the success of the iBGStar launch and it’s use of social media, everyone working together in a variety of traditional and modern formats, the language of diabetes in the media, getting the message out for the World Diabetes Congress 2013 being held Melbourne (Click here for more) -  along with many other topics that came up during the course of the day.

Andrew Moore from Sanofi Diabetes also spoke about not only the success of the iBGStar launch and it’s use of consumers trialing the product and discussing it on social media but also about why they did it. The power of social media and industry working together with consumers to get it right and get the message out there and why that is so important.

Prior to going we were asked to consider what uniqueness we brought to the Summit and how best to contribute to the discussions and workshop segments. Focus on why we use social media in the diabetes arena. Why do we do it? What keeps us motivated to stay online and connected to the DOC and OzDOC.

That for me is simple.

Writing my blog and being open and honest – sometimes maybe too open and honest :)  along with being vigilant with testing my blood sugars I believe that I am Training Diabetes to live with me. One prick at a time.  I started sharing my experiences about living with Type 1 Diabetes and life in general in hope to inspire and motivate myself and maybe someone else.

Without realising it at the time – I stumbled upon a whole world of humour, support and understanding. I didn’t realise exactly how alone I had felt until I came across the DOC, nor how burdened and desperately in the need to feel connected. Connected to people who knew what it is like to live with this disease. It is this and more why I am motivated to stay online. And the beauty of it being on-line aside from there always being someone somewhere that is writing, blogging, tweeting or on Facebook is that I can be as engaged as I want/can be. It isn’t like making a commitment to meet the same five people for coffee once a month – although that isn’t bad – but in my busy life that really doesn’t suit me. I don’t have to share or talk/tweet if I don’t want to or don’t have time to. Participating in the DOC and it’s no strings freedom is what suits me as diabetes isn’t the only thing in my life.

The emotional support and mental relief that I get from it strengthens me, gives me courage to move on or laugh at this life with diabetes like nothing else.

There is so much more that I need to tell you about the summit but as this post is already so very long I have decided to write it in a few parts. I don’t know how many at this point. So much was discussed and so many antics went on.

At the end of the day – We need to keep this conversation going #OzDSMS

Diabetes Australia Victoria paid and organised for my flights over to Melbourne and my accommodation. I am sincerely grateful – Thank you!

Thank you to Renza Scibilia and Kim Henshaw in organising this event as well as my flights and accommodation.

I would also like to mention that even though they paid for my expenses I do not have any contractual obligation to blog about this, promote them or write about the event with any specific opinion. I do not have an agreement to mention the sponsors of the event but wish to do so in Thanks anyway – Sanofi Diabetes – Medtronic – Lilly

Diabetes WA – Consumer Group

Let’s make November: National Health Blog Post Month. We’ll blog about health every day of November – raising awareness and our spirits as we close out 2012. Click on the link to find out more or go to :


I am playing catch-up a little here – The prompt for the 5th of November was:

Write a list of 3 things that you are thankful for, excited about or inspired by:

1. Thankful - I was very thankful to attend an event at Diabetes WA last week. (Click here to go to their website) I was part of a consumer group – a group of Type 1 Diabetics – to discuss the needs of the Type 1 Diabetic community in Perth and look at ways that Diabetes WA to support them. It was fabulous! Firstly, they admitted that most of the time and resources in the past have been solely used to support the Type 2 community, which of course is also important, but that there was a gap they intend to fill in what was available for us Type 1′s.

The consumer group was made up of patients - not diabetic educators, dieticians or medical professionals - which I think is most important. It is the opinions and ideas of us patients in the kind of support/events/information sharing and community that is sometimes shunned by some medical professionals but is what we actually hold as far more valuable. So it was a grateful step forward that Diabetes WA took to break away from that culture. So Western Australia! Watch this space!

2. Excited – Diabetes Victoria (Click here to go to their website) are a leading organisation when it comes to their Type 1 support. I have been fortunate enough to be in contact with Renza (@RenzaS if you are on Twitter) whom is the Type 1 Team Manager over at Diabetes Vic. I have also been following her blog http://diabetogenic.wordpress.com/ and find her an absolute inspiration! I was very excited as she had flown over to WA to talk at the consumer group meeting about what she and her team have been doing over east. Admittingly, I was more excited actually about the fact that I was going to meet her face to face! and when I did! Wow! I was completely star struck by her! (insert nervous giggle here) She just had this presence about her. She spoke with confidence and humour. Okay… I think I have a bit of a girl crush now…. but Man! I just completely lost my ability to communicate in any way that resembled intelligence. It was strange, after all this time reading her blog and talking on twitter, to actually meet her in person. What is stranger is that, after all was said and done, it actually did not feel like I was meeting her for the first time.

3. Inspired – After the meeting ended we all headed off for a couple of drinks and then out to dinner. Conversation flew around the table thick and hot along with the delicious Buddha Bar curry and wine! I spent a lot of my time talking with some members of the YWAIT and WAIT Type 1 diabetes support group. Young West Australian Insulin Takers and the not so young ones.  These group of young people, so passionate about changing lives and creating change really struck me to the core and filled with inspiration. There was just something very extraordinary about this group of people and it left me feeling blessed that I had met them. Pleased also, as with that much passion in that room I know that change is inevitable. Change in the way that the Type 1 Community is seen, conducted and shared. I was very excited and it sparked off a blaze of inspiration in what is yet to come.

What’s in the bag?

Let’s make November: National Health Blog Post Month. We’ll blog about health every day of November – raising awareness and our spirits as we close out 2012. Click on the link to find out more or go to :


Today’s prompt: Write about what’s in your bag every day.

I have written about similar topics before.  If I was ever stranded on a desert island (click here) or what I need to pack – Diabetes stuff – to go on an overseas holiday (click here). But here is a list of what Diabetes supplies I carry with me every single day.

Blood glucose meter

Test strips

Extra lancet - finger prickers

Glucose – either tabs/powder/liquid

Insulin pump – actually this I carry on my body 24/7

Insulin pen with needle in case of pump error

Syringe – in case all else fails

Spare pump supplies – Cartridge and Lines/cannulae

Umm… I think that about covers it…?? Although, I do also have stuff floating around in my car and at work. And you know what? !! Sometimes I still get caught out. There are just too many variables with Type 1 Diabetes that it seems impossible to be prepared at all times.

Why I write about my health – #NHBPM

Let’s make November: National Health Blog Post Month. We’ll blog about health every day of November – raising awareness and our spirits as we close out 2012. Click on the link to find out more or go to :


Day one: Why I write about my health

I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed 6 and a half years ago at the age of 30.  Writing my blog and being open and honest – sometimes maybe too open and honest :) along with being vigilant with testing my blood sugars I believe that I am Training Diabetes to live with me. One prick at a time.  I want to share my experiences about living with Type 1 Diabetes and life in general in hope to inspire and motivate myself and maybe I can drag a few others along with me for the ride.

And even though I write about my sometimes ill-health, I like to think that overall I am writing about my healthiness And how being a Diabetic has pushed me to pursue overall fabulous health. How being a Diabetic has given me a fresh set of eyes. Challenge what boundaries that seem to be set out for me because of my health and create a new set of rules. Rules that I can live with. Rules without restrictions. Essentially, No Rules.

With every word that I toil over and type - I am inspiring myself to dream and create my reality.

A letter from a Friend

Dear Jo,

I am worried about you. I know and understand that you have been under a bit of pressure and emotional stress the last month or so. Which is why some things – as they do – have fallen along the wayside. I am mostly concerned in the loss of faith in yourself in becoming a wellness coach. That dream means so much to you and your self-destructive behaviour – not exercising, eating and drinking (Alcohol – Too frequent rather than too much – I know it’s not like your drunk everyday :) ) without your usual passion for nutrition and uncharacteristic lack of general life organisation drives me to reach out to you.

Don’t lose faith and belief in yourself. I know that there has been people in your life that have knocked the wind from your sails lately. Those who should – with love – show an active interest in your passion, encourage and support you. I know that you don’t need the approval or acknowledgement but would just like it. Please don’t let their negativity, selfishness and their own limitations on life steal that dream from you.

I know it might be hard to understand, but it really says more about them than about you. When they don’t respect – but dismiss you immediately – the knowledge that already have or the emotional intelligence that has created your beliefs and opinions, I know it is hard not to get frustrated, angry, hurt and even un-loved. But you must remember, that they are not without faults – as we all are not. Just because they are in your life and you love them openly, with appreciation and unconditional love and support does not mean that they will. And it does not mean that they have to either – just because you believe it should be.

For whatever reason they are incapable or unwilling for that level of communication. Or could it be that it has never occurred to them to communicate in this way? The fact that they are completely unable to acknowledge the good things in your life or avoid making any comment about your dream, does not mean that they do not feel them. Maybe though, because they are quick to point out everything that is ‘wrong’ in your life, ‘should’ be better at or belittle the things you say actually does mean that they don’t believe in you. But what does that really mean anyway?

Maybe it means that they do think your are not fit enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not good enough or lack the ability achieve greatness within your own life. Maybe they do think you are a fool to dream such things. Maybe they tap into your own self doubt – we all have that ability. And once again – maybe they don’t think that way – maybe they just lack the ability to communicate their support. Or maybe they just don’t care either way.

Either way – does it matter ? Do you think that maybe you are focussing on the wrong opinions?

This is when you need to force yourself to remember all the people who do love and support you openly. All the people who think that writing a blog about living with diabetes is not silly or self-indulgent and unimportant. But rather, a perfect idea for a women who loves to write, share her experiences and maybe whilst inspiring herself, inspire others.

Those around you that cannot believe that you didn’t have the idea of becoming a wellness coach years ago as it is a unbelieveably perfect evolution of who you are. Who you have always been. They are the ones that respect your opinion – even if they don’t agree – because they know the research and experimenting you do in the areas of health, nutrition, healing through nature and super foods and personal growth. They are the ones that exclaim that health and fitness is not skinny. The ones that insist that your journey – and the battlescars that come with that – will be the cornerstone of your coaching. And the ones that gently soothe your anxiety and tell you that you will get there. You will achieve your goals. You will – in fact – get there in the end.

They love your openness – although are sometimes amazed and protective – with what they call courage in the things that you share. Rather than being scared or threatened at your honesty. Remember those that love you – unconditionally and without judgement – and believe and encourage you.

Lastly, what I would like to beg you – Reignite that fire and remember, the most important person that accepts and loves you. That person who believes in you without question and so much force that it can only inspire you to achieve.


Dream – Believe – Achieve

With my utmost love, Jo – Yourself. The only person that you can actually change when you don’t like something.



As I am off in Bali.. Yay!! No phone or internet!!  (Can’t wait to tell you all about it)….. and fingerpricker.com has just reached it’s 1st Birthday! I have re-posted one of my very first posts in case you missed it….

I have decided to take part in the Juvenation Blog Carnival: http://juvenation.org/community_blogs/b/blogcarnival/default.aspx

Today’s topic is: The DOC – How has the diabetes online community (DOC) helped you?

I first came across the blog http://www.sixuntilme.com which is awesome and it got me thinking that maybe there are other blogs……  Hello! Clearly I had never been told in the nearly 6 years of being a Type 1 diabetic that there was such a thing as blogs, diabetes websites etc so it just grew from there. I discovered more blogs and more websites but could not find many that were from Australia. For those of you that are reading this that are where I was at a few months ago…. There a HUNDREDS of blogs and websites around. When I was first diagnosed I googled ‘Diabetes’ I got the shock of my life and never went there again…

The great thing about the internet is that it’s country is just mankind with an internet connection in general but all the same it would be nice to read about Aussies with Type 1 and if you read a recent rant on my blog you would know there isn’t much in the land of Oz.

Anyway… I decided to start a blog of my own and from that I joined Twitter.

WELL… It was there that I discovered the #DOC and Man! was I in for a whirlwind of excitement, encouragement and most of all, Diabetes conversation 24/7 from all over the world.

The DOC has helped me because it makes me feel a little normal with this crazy chronic disease that by no means makes you feel normal at the best of times. Hundreds of people talking about their bgnow, their frustrations, funny stuff or just having that feeling of announcing to the world that crap! my diabetes management is a little off today and I kinda feel a little guilty but by tweeting it I can get it off my chest and get on with my day….


The DOC has helped me in the few short months that I have been exposed to it, by making me feel connected and by making me feel normal (sort of…. Don’t want to be too normal)

Sunshine Bread

This week in Australia is National Diabetes Week. Each state has a diabetes organisation so each state is raising awareness on a particular area of need. I live in Western Australia and this year Diabetes WA is raising awareness of stress management techniques to help with Diabetes. Mental health issues affect up to half of those living with Diabetes so it is important to manage the emotional demands of the condition.

Now, this I can say that I understand and relate to from personal experience. The funny thing is that I am actually quite a positive and happy person most of the time. I am sure that most people who know me would find it hard to believe or realise that I struggle with depression and anxiety. The thing is…. it isn’t a natural gift. I actually feel a little frustrated when people say to me that it must be nice to be naturally positive. I actually work very hard at it. Yes, it may seem that I am a natural but I think that takes something away from all the hard work and awareness that I have practiced over the years.

I am going to share with you today my proven (tested over time) method for parting the emotional cloud of depression which I like to a call my ‘Sunshine Bread Recipe’. Why Sunshine Bread? Who knows! It’s just sounds super corny and I felt like a laugh. Mmm.. Corn Bread!

First thing that I do when operation ‘Sunshine Bread’ is about to go down is that I scrub my kitchen until my fingers bleed.(Free blood glucose test!) I throw out all the crap food, processed and sugar laden food and scrub the fridge, pantry, cook top and benches. Having a clean and tidy kitchen just helps me prepare healthy foods. I then pull out a couple of recipes that include vegetables, lentils, beans and whole grains and go shopping. I arrive home with bundles of crispy, fresh and tasty vegetables and bags of lentils and legumes.

I muster just enough energy to cook up a few simple but large batches of soup, homemade baked beans, lentil patties and zucchini/vegi fritters. I then change the bed sheets in my bed, vacuum and dust the bedroom. I usually do this on the weekend and then flop into bed only to awake on the Monday morning in normal zombie mode. However, this zombie doesn’t have to think about what she is eating. All week I pour the goodness, nutrients and serotonin/dopamine boosting foods into my soul and wait for the mood to rise.

The clean bedroom clears my energies overnight and within a few days the clouds are not so dark. I then add a few shakes of daytime sunlight and fresh air and slowly the happiness knead its way into my pores and breathes life into my bones.

I do this for a week or two and I have to be diligent. It doesn’t just happen. It has to be measured out and calculated each time taking the last time into account. I also find that I can’t afford to get sidetracked otherwise I end up making Down in the Dumps Donuts. And this is only the beginning… I haven’t even started baking yet.

A shot in time

We are Day 6 of the DBlog week and you can check out the details here if you like. It was started by Karen over at Bitter Sweet.

Today’s blog prompt is:

Back for the third year, let’s show everyone what life with diabetes looks like!  With a nod to the Diabetes 365 project, let’s grab our cameras again and share some more d-related pictures.  Post as many or as few as you’d like.  Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures, or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Human Battery

So I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the types of foods that I put into my body and how my blood glucose reacts. I know most Diabetics probably spend time every once in a while going through this. I have even taken it a step further and have been researching how preservatives and additives affect the body and am wondering how much all the artificial sweetener I consume changes the way my metabolism and general functioning of my body works. I monitor the changes in my insulin needs after exercise on a daily and weekly basis and I am aware of the high blood sugars that can occur if I do not keep my stress in check.

But I am not here today to talk about that. I want to share with you something that I wonder if many people really think about all that often. Something that affects blood glucose levels in a way different to the reasons above but is grossly overlooked.

Toxic People. Emotional Vampires.

Basically people who leave you feeling drained after spending time with them. People that feed off your emotions regardless if they are good or bad. These people are not just annoying but are deeply seductive. They can draw you in, make you feel that you are helping them and then they drain you of every last drop of emotional energy.

There are people in this world that take rather than give. Their basic need is their one and only objective and the hard thing to gauge is that this differs from person to person. It is crazy how quickly these people can get you to trust them then just as quickly they can get under your skin and drain you dry. These people are the wolves in Little Red Riding Hood’s outfits and I am here to tell you that just being with people like this can cause an internal stress that you may not even be aware of and therefore spike your blood sugar.

Sounds a little crazy I know but I am speaking from experience when I am telling you this. In my case it was a friend who I knew and trusted and they manipulated me to the point of ill-health. In retrospect this has been something that I have done quite a few times in my life. For you it could just be a manipulative co-worker or family member, a friend or someone who you have only just met but if they are there then you probably already know who they are.

To be a human battery is exhausting and in my case it left me broken and un-healthy. We spend so much time detoxify our lives and our food but I have now realised that it is equally important to detox yourself from the negative people who are around you. Since I haven’t had such a draining force in my life my blood sugars are much more manageable and without so much of the ‘No rhyme – No Reason’ spikes due to deep emotional stress. Yes, not perfect but I didn’t say it was the only answer. But more importantly I have more to give in all other areas of my life. There is more of me to give now that that ‘friend’ isn’t using up all that I have and that is making me a happier and a more balanced person and that shows in my glucose levels.

6 Year Dia-versary

Each year when ‘The Biggest Loser’ is on TV I am reminded of my diagnosis. I love that show but the reason why I am reminded of my diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes is because I watched the finale of the first Australian Biggest Loser from my hospital bed. The year that Adro won. This year marks 6 years of living with Type 1 Diabetes and I can’t help but reflect on how far that I have come in that time and yes, I am watching and loving this years Biggest Loser. Michelle Bridges rocks!!

In a way, I am grateful that I have this disease because it has shown me what I am capable of achieving. Looking through my eyes as a diabetic also enables me to see things differently and I appreciate that. The things that I see differently are small things and they are big things. I cherish moments and I combat challenges that give me purpose and drive.

Being a diabetic sucks sometimes (okay – a lot of the time) but I like that it has made me a better person. Happy Birthday D!

I have also added a ‘My diagnosis’ page to my blog to share with you a little of what it was like to be diagnosed as a 30 year old.