Disclosure: I’ve just returned from the two-day #dx2Melbourne blogging event hosted by Abbot, the makers of the Freestyle libre, a flash glucose monitoring technology which has the tag line, “Why prick when you can scan?” I was sponsored by Abbott to participate in the program. They paid for my flight to Melbourne, put me up in a hotel, gave me two free sensors, a reader, and a goodie bag. I am in no way obligated to write about my experience at the event and the opinions and views expressed here are my own.
I was first introduced to the freestyle libre flash glucose monitoring system last year by my CDE and Endo. They thought, that being a LADA and still producing some insulin, that it would be interesting to see what sort of data they could glean from seeing my levels plotted on a graph over time. They were also curious to see how my yoga practice and low carb diet would affect things.
The two-week trial went like a dream. My levels stayed in range, I hardly knew the sensor was there and for the first time since being diagnosed I slept through the night. When I went back for the evaluation they asked why I thought my levels had been so good? (because truly they’ve NEVER been that good)
All I could think of was that my fear of going low had been taken out of the equation. Overall I was less stressed and more confident.
After going through quite a few sensors and having a range of experiences, both great and not so great since the initial trial, I was excited to attend the #dx2Melbourne event and hear more about the product. I was also very curious to meet other bloggers who live with type 1 diabetes. In fact, I was so excited that I felt like one of those kids who are about to meet their pen pals for the first time at camp.
I think I might need to devote a whole other blog to what it felt like to meet some of my diabetes heroes for the first time but in a nut shell… it was inspiring, intense, reassuring and heartfelt. Each person manages their life with diabetes in a unique way. Our discussions were robust (a word that everyone used to describe our passionate feelings) and there was definitely a lot of strong opinions. What I loved most was that none of us shied away from expressing different viewpoints on any given topic.
Being new to the discussion (most of the bloggers were at the #dx2Sydney event when the freestyle libre launched last year) I found myself stepping back, taking a breath and pondering.
One thing that stood out strongly was that because we are bloggers in the diabetes space we have to be aware of what’s happening with diabetes not only in Australia but globally.
That awareness inspires advocacy.
Most people living with diabetes aren’t going beyond what doctors are telling them or seeking out communities and or more information. It certainly didn’t occur to me when I was first diagnosed. In fact, I remember one doctor telling me NOT to google diabetes and that I could live normally as long as I took insulin, ate well and exercised.
When Greg Johnson the CEO of Diabetes Australia spoke during the event he disclosed that the issues at the founding of the organization in 1957 are the issues we are still dealing with today, “Insulin does NOT solve the problem.”
That’s why gatherings, support groups and events like these are so important. I can’t begin to express what it feels like to sit at lunch with people who casually check their blood sugar, and then take their shot. No one judges or questions because what we do to manage our diabetes is part of our every day lives.
So besides making lots of new dia-buddies and normalizing my life with diabetes, this event did have great takeaways that I’d love to share.
First up was Mahmood Kazemi, senior director of Abbott global medical & scientific affairs. I’m not really a statistics gal but I was impressed when he shared that after gathering unidentifiable data from over 55,343 readers (the device you scan over the sensor to find out your BG level) an average of 16.3 scans a day affords better glucose control and lower A1c’s.
He also mentioned that things like ingesting large amounts of vitamin C, exposing the sensor to sunlight, or fast changes in environment like going from a dark to light space can throw off sensor readings. Abbott takes sensor faults seriously and sometimes they even reverse engineer a faulty sensor.
There were some questions from the group about scar tissue build up around the sensors, allergic reactions and whether Abbot will be recommending other sites, besides the backs of the arms. Apparently, they haven’t tested accuracy “officially” beyond the arm sites but anecdotal evidence suggests that the accuracy remains consistent wherever you put it.
One of our Bloggers, Matt was keen to know when the sensor would have an alarm Mahmood reminded us that the device is not designed to be CGM, it’s a different technology with a different purpose.
As a group we discussed the pro’s and cons of blogging…and later we talked more with guest speaker Isabelle Skinner about online personas and how the digital community can bring people together to create change. We had another robust discussion about the difference between coercion and saying things like, “this worked for me to help me manage my diabetes.” And what it means to be a trustworthy genuine source of information online.
A highlight of the event was heading into the Melbourne CBD to learn how to create great images for our blogs as was the live webcast on the emotional side of living with diabetes with Lisa Robins who specializes in diabetes clinical psychology.
The big question?
Did we think it would be useful to have professional psychological support on diagnosis (YES!) and what are ways that we stay positive with diabetes.
Something I shared was how gratitude had really helped me. Focusing on what’s working rather than what’s not and giving myself a break…
Which included not being offended when the planned yoga for diabetes class with the group early Sunday morning was canceled. I didn’t get a chance to ask but am curious to know why no one wanted to attend the free class. The lack of attendance has sparked a determination in me to address the issue of ignorance around this word YOGA and what people feel it represents.
More food for that in blogs to come….
In the meantime, I would highly recommend checking out what my fellow bloggers had to say about their experience of the event.
Kim of 1 Type 1 and Oz Diabetes Online Community
Helen of Diabetes Can’t Stop Me
Alana of The Enlightened Diabetic
With great respect… Rachel
P.S. What if there was an easy way to feel better, have extra confidence and be more relaxed about managing your diabetes?
Yoga absolutely helped me and I’m convinced it can help you too
Join me on September 1, 2017 for my free yoga challenge
wonderful post! Was so lovely to meet you – the only reason I could not do the yoga was the timing in relation to my gut issues and being before breakfast – if it had been afternoon I would have been there with bells oN!
Rachel, it was so great to meet you in person and I could really see you taking it all in. I think the consensus was that 7am was a bit early, and everyone wanted more time to get ready and pack up. It definitely wasn’t for the sake of not wanting to try it 🙂
Hey thanks for letting me know why :)….next time we’ll make it a 9 am start 🙂
Such a great group and what terrific fun.
Thanks so much… yeah these guys were awesome