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Taking Control of Your Diabetes

By David Mendosa

Last Update: December 1, 2001

The redesigned Taking Control of Your Diabetes site is so new that it's not all there yet. But this attractive site already has a lot to offer.

Taking Control of Your Diabetes means the Web site, a book, and conferences. All come from Dr. Steve Edelman, an incredibly busy guy in San Diego.

‘This is just my deal with diabetes.’

An endocrinologist, he is a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, where he teaches medical students the diabetes parts of their curriculum, directs the school's fellowship program, and runs a research institute doing clinical studies. He also practices medicine at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in San Diego with responsibility for 4,000 patients with diabetes.

"The other part of my career is Taking Control of Your Diabetes," Steve says. "There I am a 100% volunteer, and I can tell you that the gratification of doing TCOYD far outweighs anything that I have ever done. Pushing patient education to a higher level since 1995 with a lot of organizations following us has been my best contribution."

Besides that, Steve is married with two daughters. And, at age 46, he has had type 1 diabetes since he was 15. "More than two-thirds of my life," as he wryly notes.

Even though he maintains tight control now, he is not without complications. "I am out of the closet," he tells me. In fact, he details his complications in a sample medical history in the book.

"It is these trigger fingers that have bothered me the most," he says. "I have had two surgeries for that, and I have also had pretty bad gastroparesis. My retinopathy and kidneys are stable. But everyone has some type of medical problem. This is just my deal with diabetes."

As someone with diabetes and as a diabetes specialist heavily involved in medical education, Steve says that after the results of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial came out, he realized that diabetes care was not improving nearly as fast as the information doctors were getting from those clinical trials. He says he was frustrated when he saw that our hemoglobin A1c levels hadn't dropped.

"So in 1995 I said to myself, let's take the important messages right to the people living with this condition and bypass about 10 years between the information going to the opinion leaders, the opinion leaders giving a bunch of doctor talks, the doctors trying to stay awake during dinner, the ones that should be there aren't, and then hopefully taking that information and changing their patients," Steve recalls. "That's when I decided to start Taking Control of Your Diabetes."

What he started was a series of large conferences or seminars in convention centers around the country. In 2002 conferences are scheduled for Honolulu, Kauai, Dallas, Seattle, Denver, Raleigh, Cincinnati, and San Diego. Usually taking all day Saturday, these conferences typically attract 1,000 to 1,200 people.

The program consists of general sessions in the morning, a sit-down luncheon, and then a choice of workshops and hands-on sessions in the afternoon with a short closing general session. While Steve starts off and concludes each conference, he relies mostly on top-flight speakers whom he has attracted over the years. Regular speakers include psychologist Bill Polonsky and attorney Kriss Halpern.

"You gotta have people who are funny, who can speak on all levels, who don't use fancy medical phrases," he says. "You can hear a pin drop."

You might think that the chance to hear all this high-powered expertise would cost a lot. Actually, it only costs those who attend $35 or $40. "I don't want to make it too expensive," he says. "This is what non-profits are for."

"For every person who shows up I lose $70," Steve says. He makes up the shortfall with grants from pharmaceutical companies, the government, and foundations.

The book and the Web site exist to support the conferences. The book, for which a second edition just came out, includes much of the conference material. Steve sees it as a hardcopy way to reinforce the conference.

The new Web site went up October 20. "We plan on filling it out and also making it an extension of the conferences," Steve says.

I told Steve that I thought the best part of the site was the archived articles. Steve said that he didn't know that people read that stuff, and he thought the best part will be questions from members. "I do plan on putting more good content on there." 


The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.


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