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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Psychosocial'

Embrace Diabetes Support Groups for a Healthy Lifestyle

May 11th, 2011 · 2 Comments

If you have ever participated in a diabetes support group, you probably know that it helps you to stay in control of your diabetes. While I don’t know of any research that will prove this, a new study shows that group support meetings offer remarkable benefits for people who have pre-diabetes. If group support helps people who have pre-diabetes, it is probably much more likely to help those of us who are already burdened with this condition. For most people I know who have pre-diabetes this is just one more thing to deal with. Sometime.

Those of us who have diabetes know that we have to deal with it. Every day. But some people who have diabetes still don’t take advantage of the support that other people can give them. For some of us diabetes is something to keep quiet about, either out of shame or concern that our employers might cause them problems. Or because their health insurance rates might go up.

Some of these concerns are certainly legitimate. But when we ignore the social advantages of sharing, we ignore the support we can get from friends in similar situations.

More and more of us are choosing a third alternative, online support. Groups like MyDiaBlog can help anyone with diabetes, even those among us who can’t or won’t share with local groups.

The study of people with pre-diabetes who have benefited from support groups that prompted these thoughts comes to us from Australia. Between 2005 and 2009 the Victorian Department of Health recruited 300 people from both the big city of Melbourne and the rural community of Shepparton to see if community meetings are as good for health as they are for making friends.

They are. The bottom line is that people who attended regular meetings had a 43 percent success rate in reversing their pre-diabetes within six months of learning that they had it. By comparison, only one quarter of the people who had learned that they have pre-diabetes in that time but only had the support of their doctor succeeded.

Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne evaluated the study and reported it in the March 2011 issue of Swinburne Magazine. This article says that the Victorian Department of Health is taking these positive findings a step further by rolling out a state-wide program.

The question is whether people here who already have diabetes will take the further step to get valuable support from others.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that was originally published on Health Central.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Diabetes Social Networking

March 27th, 2011 · No Comments

The social network space for people with diabetes lags well behind the Internet’s superb ability to provide information. Websites like HealthCentral far exceed the older sources of information that we have — including our health care teams, our books, and our magazines — in the quantity and often even the quality of information that we seek about diabetes.

But the Internet hasn’t been doing a good job in connecting the real people who have diabetes with other real people. Those of us who have diabetes often feel isolated from our communities because of the special need we have to control our condition. Many of us, particularly those who live in small towns or rural areas, don’t have anyone with whom to discuss our dietary, activity, and medication requirements.

Local support groups often fail to provide positive reinforcement when they exist at all. Many of us in fact lack that option within a reasonable driving distance.

Support and communication are functions that the Internet can provide to people with diabetes on a much larger scale than even the best local support groups. But even the so-called social networking sites are instead top heavy on information.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

My Goals

March 20th, 2011 · No Comments

Until now, I haven’t shared much of my goals. What I have shared is information — some of the things that I have learned about diabetes in the years since I was diagnosed with type 2 in 1994.

I also once shared my ideas on how to write, because that’s what I do. You can read my article, “My Style” here. And since photography is a passionate hobby of my I share my photo essays on my “Fitness and Photography for Fun” blog. I’m writing today from Florida where I visited our Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Parks and today am photographing birds, alligators, and other wildlife in the Everglades National Park. I share my photo essays because I want to inspire everyone who has diabetes to get the activity we all need by doing what we love to do.

A Purple Gallinule This Morning

But until now, I haven’t really told you where I am coming from. A couple of people from Chicago named Jenny and Jannick dragged it out of me when they interviewed me last week. They posted the interview on their website, “Julio’s Sol, Our Dream is to Make Yours a Reality.” Their interview with me is on this web page.

Jenny and Jannick told me from the first that they wanted to interview people who had a passion driving their life. I told them when they interviewed me that my passion is helping people with diabetes. I hope that I am helping you.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that was originally published on Health Central.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Walking Meditation

March 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

As I hiked out of the wilderness all I could think about was how much my feet hurt. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

Wearing a brand new pair of boots on a long backpacking trip into West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness about 35 years ago could have been a big mistake. The new boots gave my feet terrible blisters, and I had forgotten to take any moleskin. Returning to the trailhead after four or five days, I knew I had just one other way to control the pain. Deliberate walking meditation put my entire consciousness into my feet.

I don’t punish my feet any more to get the high that walking meditation brings. But I still hike or walk and meditate at the same time.

A leading exponent of walking meditation is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who is one of the important influences in the development of Western Buddhism. His book with Nguyen Anh-Huong, Walking Meditation (Sounds True: Boulder, Colorado, 2006), says that when we practice walking meditation, “We walk for the sake of walking…We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips.”

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes, Psychosocial

Medical Marijuana for Diabetes

February 2nd, 2011 · 4 Comments

Here is a copy of a letter — with the author’s name and other identifying information redacted out — about anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana might help some complications of diabetes.

The person who wrote me has a better memory than I do. I don’t remember corresponding with him before, but he remembers that when I used marijuana I was addicted to it. It got to where I had to be high all my waking hours. My correspondent is also quite correct in writing that I would not be a good candidate for medical marijuana, except as a last resort.

The jist of what he wrote follows:

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Medication, Psychosocial

Indigenous Diabetes

January 16th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Diabetes is the scourge of civilization. A disproportionate number of people living in the most advanced societies suffer from it.

But the people who suffer the most are the original inhabitants of the lands that the Western societies occupied. Whether they are the Native Americans, people of Canada’s First Nations, Australia’s Indigenous population, or other conquered peoples, the result everywhere has been the same — lots of diabetes.

The reason why is no mystery. The conquerors destroyed the indigenous cultures, often intentionally but with what they thought were good intentions. By punishing students in native schools for using their own language, by attacking native religion, and by extolling the wonders of Western food, the victors hoped to integrate the defeated into mainstream culture. Instead, they marginalized the defeated from both their own culture and from that of the West.

Decrying their food choices of the defeated misses the point, as Sousan Abadian elucidates in her Harvard University Ph.D. dissertation. The point is that they suffer what she calls “collective trauma.”

Craig Lambert interviewed her for his brilliant article, “Trails of Tears, and Hopes,” for the March-April 2008 issue of Harvard Magazine. You can read the PDF of the full article online.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

A Good Day to Die

January 14th, 2011 · No Comments

My brother-in-law, George Klotz, died today after a long illness. He and my little sister, Liz, had been married for 55 years.

George died from prostate cancer, and he had been legally blind for years. Liz had to take ever greater responsibility for him. Until today, when everything changed for her.

George fought hard for his life. But on adequate pain medication he died peacefully today. George lived in Chino, California, and as a veteran will be buried in Riverside National Cemetery. I will fly there for the funeral.

The family knew this was coming. And so, all day today I have been thinking about that famous statement, “This is a good day to die.”

Used in numerous books, movies, albums, and song tracks, this statement still raised questions in my mind. Who said it and why? What does it mean?

[Read more →]

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Adversity Makes Us Stronger

December 6th, 2010 · 1 Comment

A couple of years ago I made a strenuous hike in southern Colorado that I wrote about on my “Fitness and Photography for Fun” blog. While that hike didn’t kill me, it came too close for comfort.

I reflected at that time on the aphorism by the German philosoper Friedrich Nietzsche. In 1888 he wrote what we usually translate as, “Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger.”

My own anecdotal evidence has led me to accept this as wisdom. I know that I need to challenge myself, both physically and mentally. I have to push my limits. I have to keep pushing the envelope.

When I don’t keep trying harder, my mental and physical muscles atrophy. And my life gets boring.

Now, we have gone beyond the age of aphorisms and anectodal evidence. Now, a psychology professor at the University of Bullafo and three colleagues have studied
people who reported their lifetime history of adverse experiences and several measures of current mental health and well being. Their analysis of this study of a national survey panel of 2,398 subjects assessed repeatedly from 2001 to 2004 found those exposed to some adverse events reported better mental health and well-being outcomes than people with a high history of adversity or those with no history of adversity.

“Our findings revealed,” says lead author Mark Seery, PhD, “that a history of some lifetime adversity — relative to both no adversity or high adversity — predicted lower global distress, lower functional impairment, lower PTS symptoms, and higher life satisfaction.” They also found that people with a history of some lifetime adversity appeared less negatively affected by recent adverse events than other individuals. Although these data cannot establish causation, Dr. Seery says the evidence is consistent with the proposition that in moderation, experiencing lifetime adversity can contribute to the development of resilience. You can find the abstract of their study online.

What does this have to do with diabetes? A lot. No question that have diabetes is more than a bit of adversity. But anyone to is controlling his or her diabetes will tell you that having it will make us healthier and happier. And stronger too.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that was originally published on Health Central.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Diabetes Support in Korea

November 30th, 2010 · 3 Comments

When Jeongkwan (Brian) Lee of the i-SENS planning division introduced me to Cheol Jean, Brian called him “the Korean David Mendosa.” Brian was being too generous to me.

Both of us have written about diabetes for years and have organized diabetes support groups. But Cheol Jean, whose business cards reads as Charlie Jean to make it easier for Westerners, has written four books about diabetes — twice as many as I have — and founded and leads a much larger diabetes support group.

Charlie Jean and I Meet

Brian and I arrived in Busan, Korea, on Sunday evening on the bullet train from Seoul. We are here to participate in the Eighth International Congress of the International Diabetes Federation’s Western Pacific Region at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO).

I will be covering the IDF meeting for HealthCentral from Monday through Wednesday. About 3,000 people are here for the meeting in Busan, mainly from Korea, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

I am old enough to have remembered this now vibrant city from the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter. In August and September 1950 North Korean forces drove back the UN Command, which included thousands of American troops, and South Korean forces — together with millions of refugees — to the extreme southeast corner of the country around the port of Pusan. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Social Media Summit

August 9th, 2010 · No Comments

Getting together with 35 other people who have diabetes and write about it online is one of the best things about my work. I just returned home from a full day at the second annual Social Media Summit sponsored by Roche Diabetes Care. I still find myself invigorated by having spent hours in the company of so many passionate people.

Four of the 36 bloggers at the summit came from one organization — HealthCentral. Gretchen Becker posts here, Ginger Vieira posts here, Kerri Sparling posts here, and I post here.

Gretchen, Ginger, Kerri, and David

The combined passion for better diabetes care surfaced most intensely when our eight hosts from Roche brought in representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to tell us what they were doing. If they had any idea of the number, range, and intensity of the comments that were going hit them, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had declined to com.

On the other hand, we responded positively to our hosts, led by Lisa N. Huse, the director of strategic initiatives for Roche Diabetes Care. This company offers blood glucose meters, including the Accu-Chek Aviva, which I reviewed for Diabetes Health magazine, as well as insulin pumps. After welcoming us and giving each of us the chance to introduce ourselves Twitter-style in 140 words or fewer, Lisa briefly reviewed her company’s progress in the year since its first annual Social Media Summit, which I also took part in and reviewed here.

Last year Roche began in earnest to reach out to the diabetes community with that first meeting with those of us who write about diabetes. That effort was a good start, although of the 29 of us, only two of us represented the overwhelming number of people with diabetes who have type 2. I couldn’t count how many type 2s took part in this year’s event, although the number increased to include at least five or us. I was also pleased to note a much more representative number of people of color.

In the intervening year Roche started at least two major initiatives, which Lisa mentioned in her introductory remarks. The first is the Diabetes Care Project, which is a coalition of like-minded organizations focusing on improving the care of people with diabetes. Founded by the National Minority Quality Forum and Roche in partnership with the American Association of Diabetes Educators and Healthways Inc., the group’s website is the Diabetes Care Project.

The second big outreach to people with diabetes that Roche made between the two summits is the Genentech/Roche Diabetes Patient Member Research Community. This is a group of 300 people with type 2 diabetes is a private, by-invitation-only group representing Roche’s customer base. They provide the company with feedback about their concerns and what they want. By working with these people, Roche is able to learn about their customers’ lifestyles, mindsets, attitudes, fears, and passions.

In several ways the best part of this year’s event was Roche’s emphasis on the accuracy of blood glucose meters. The low standards of accuracy we have has long been my biggest concern with testing our blood glucose levels, one that I have written about many times. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also become concerned, as I wrote here a year ago.

The “Accuracy Activity” led by leading blogger Amy Tenderich, who writes at Diabetes Mine, and Todd Siesky, the new public relations chief for Roche Diabetes Care, was both fun and informative. We broke up into small groups where we debated what standards of accuracy we wanted at the two given levels — below and above 75 mg/dl. The activity forcefully brought home to me that we had to work with trade-offs and that we couldn’t hope for perfect accuracy.

Last year we met at Roche’s American headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year we travelled to Orlando, where we met at the Orlando World Center Marriott in a tropical resort setting. Of course, summer weather in Central Florida is hot and humid, but we never had to leave the hotel except to take the limos that Roche laid on for us to and from the Orlando Airport, which must be one of the most beautiful in the world.

We met just after the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting, also in Orlando, which I had decided to skip this year, mostly because I didn’t want to subject myself to Florida’s summer weather. But I couldn’t resist Roche’s invitation to its second annual Social Media Summit at the same place. Roche brought off the event without a hitch. Of course, I hope they choose a cooler location next year.

The Whole Group of Us Had Fun

This is a mirror of one of my articles that was originally published on Health Central.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

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