We are fighting with ourselves

type 1 vs type 2 war

We are at war, people!  Allow me to explain…

Earlier this week, Sara wrote a post on her blog Moments of Wonderful about a man with Type 2 diabetes that she had a conversation with and the shame that he associated with moving toward insulin-therapy in his diabetes management.

If you don’t read Sara’s blog, you should start.  She is living with type 1, and her posts vary between stories of living with diabetes and news about industry.  And like most of her posts, in the one mentioned above she did a really great job of explaining her feelings without also commanding that everyone reading agree with her. The “P.S.” from her post kind of wraps things up nicely:

I don’t think insulin = failure is an issue just for people with type 2 diabetes. I know I have been in situations where it is so tempting to compare basal rates or total daily doses with other people with type 1 when really our insulin amounts have very little to do with each other.

After reading her post on Tuesday I thought, “Yeah…you’re right Sara!  Good post.”  I walked away from my computer and went on with life.  When I returned to the Interweb, a civil war had broken out!  The war was started when the JDRF posted a link to Sara’s post.

The comments on this Facebook link were varied, but the majority of them were from people with type 1 diabetes, or with children that have type 1 diabetes and the general comment was something like, “We did nothing to deserve this like THOSE people.”

It’s ironic that Sara’s post was born from a place of acceptance and understanding and brought about more fingerpointing and misunderstanding.  I feel strongly that no person living with diabetes is responsible for having this condition.  Read that last sentence again, then stick a fork in me.

I know that many people agree with Sara and I.  Many people feel that this fight is counterproductive.  And many people feel that we need to move past this. Stick forks in all of us.

As people pointed out when commenting, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not exactly the same, but as demonstrated by Sara explaining that all of us have different basal rates, her type 1 and my type 1 are also not exactly the same. This stuff is tricky.  It’s confusing.  And we are better off if we can all lean on one another…regardless of the number in our label.

This long civil war we’ve been fighting reminded me of a Diabetes Secret from a couple of weeks ago from a tired soldier:

It’s really time to stop fighting this war with ourselves, because at the end of it the only people that lose are people in our own army.  Allow me to quote from one of the army generals (and full-disclosure he also signs my paychecks) Manny Hernandez on the topic:

Back in the 80′s, people who were HIV/AIDS positive and negative joined together, because the stigma was affecting all of them. I recommend that everyone touched by diabetes watches the documentary “How To Survive a Plague“, so we can all get a sense of the unique challenges that this community faced and how they overcame them.

You may say: “HIV/AIDS is so different from diabetes. Diabetes is not contagious. There’s no point in comparing ourselves.” I would argue that a majority of people with diabetes live in the DIABETES CLOSET, and because of this, WE as a diabetes community, are in the DIABETES CAVE… we’re not being seen enough, all types of diabetes are not getting enough exposure, visibility, and deserved attention.

So I call a cease fire.  Everyone put away your weapons.  All is forgiven…let’s start healing.

“To a mankind that recognizes the equality of man everywhere, every war becomes a civil war.”
– Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

Diabetes is so gay.

gay bottles of insulin

To you, they might be totally different things, but hear me out. The term “that’s so gay” used to describe something stupid and the way that some people use #diabetes on Twitter or Instagram hit the same nerve with me, and I would go as far as saying that these two problems also have very similar solutions.

People saying “that’s so gay” has pretty much become synonymous with “that’s so stupid.” We live in a world (according to GLSEN) where 75% of high school students say that they have heard “that’s so gay” or “faggot” used as an insult while at school. I would guess that an additional 25% didn’t understand the question.

I can speak with authority on this after working with young people for the last decade that “good” kids with no intention of insulting their gay peers are using the term “that’s so gay” because it has become part of this generation’s daily dialect. It’s a term that’s accepted in schools. The sports field. On social media. And it’s hurtful.

Regardless of the intent of the speaker, calling something you dislike “gay” connects a group of people to something you don’t like. It’s a microaggression – a sneaky way that we passively communicate hostility toward a group of people.

Microaggression is a decent way of explaining what I feel that many people are doing when they use “#diabetes” on social media to tag photos of unhealthy food. A quick search on Instagram for the hashtag and you see that it’s equal parts people sharing their lives with diabetes and people sharing photos of unhealthy or over-indulgent food choices.

people posting fattening sugary food to instagram using #diabetes

The intention of someone adding “#diabetes” to a picture of cupcakes, for example, is to really poke fun at themselves. It’s as if they are saying, “look at the bad choices I’m about to make!” People that use this hashtag as a joke, like people using the term “gay” in the pejorative, rarely know the harm that they are doing. Like a racist joke, even if the intent of the joke-teller isn’t to cause harm, that doesn’t mean that harm wasn’t done.

The harm done by people poking fun at diabetes isn’t done to me. I understand what causes diabetes (as much as science has figured out anyway). I know that the candy bar that you take a photo of and add a hipster filter to is causing insulin-resistance as little as your bad sense of humor will.

The harm comes when someone hears for years that diabetes is a consequence of shitty choices and then he/she is diagnosed with diabetes. These jokes are the root cause of the shame-burden that newly diagnosed people with diabetes carry around…a burden that makes managing a complicated condition only more complicated.

rainbow vials of insulin from pancreassassin for diabetes art day

Photo Credit: Pancreassassin

What’s the solution? When I was working with young people and I heard one of them call something (not someONE) “gay” I let it go.  Part of me thought that the problem was just too big to tackle, while another part of me didn’t want to come off as the “word police.” Over time I started correcting word-choice when I heard a kid call something “gay” and it usually made a kid stop using the word (around me anyway).

My feelings toward the usage of #diabetes are very similar.  For the longest time I’ve thought that the problem is way to big for me to ever make a dent in, and I don’t want to be the diabetes-joke police on Instagram…but I can’t sit around and watch it any longer. Now when I come across them, I’m going to start tagging people that use #diabetes as a joke in photos of my bloody fingers, blood glucometer, insulin needles, etc.  And I’m going to say “This is what #diabetes really looks like.”

Join me.

If My Broken Pancreas Was On Social Media…

if my pancreas were on social media facebook diabetes

They just float around all day doing nothing. I would guess that the life of non-functioning pancreases is pretty easy.  I’m pretty sure that I can hear mine making un-funny jokes all the time about my other organs that are actually doing their jobs.  Busted pancreases are annoying.  Thank god mine doesn’t have internet access, because if he did…

line gray light faint foursquare diabetes social media pancreas humor

He would only check into ONE place on Foursquare

Why don’t you save the location-based apps for people that do exciting things?

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twitter account for my pancreas diabetes social media

His Twitter feed would be full of #HumbleBrags

I can think of a few things that I wish you were doing right now.  I don’t want to hear about how much you’re enjoying your life of leisure.

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songs lyrics posted on facebook diabetes pancreas

He would posts a lot of song lyrics

We might like this song, but reading it out of context and without the sweet guitar accompaniment, is just irritating.

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facebook to twitter sync is annoying

He has his Twitter Synched to Facebook

Hey @pancreas don’t you know that Facebook is different than Twitter? #duh

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tagged photo from instagram

He will tag you in photos that you aren’t in

Wait…were you wishing I was there?  Were you mistaken? Or is this just your obnoxious way of trying to make me look at your photo?

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annoying inspirational photos on facebook

The only photos he would post on Facebook are inspirational pictures he stole from someone else

He gets really inspired by hearing some worn out quote from Ghandi…fine.  But why do you have to post the images you stole from Pinterest to Facebook?

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diabetes jokes nobody thinks are funny

He reposts jokes that nobody thinks are funny








Ten Ways To Be More Presidential On Instagram

Barack Obama's Instagram Page White House Social Media

Let’s be honest.  You’d kill for over 2 million Instagram followers.  And wouldn’t it sort of feel nice if each time you uploaded a washed-out picture of you and your new hair it received 150,000 likes and 45,000 comments?

While it might take getting elected to the most powerful position in the world to become as popular as President Barack Obama on Instagram, there are still a few lessons we can learn from his Instagram page.

president barack obama eating pizza from instagram1. People don’t care what you ate, they care who you ate it with.

Stop taking those boring shots where you hover over your plate at a 90° angle. If we want to see the menu of that new Korean BBQ place, we’ll look at the menu for the new Korean BBQ place.  But since we’re looking at your Instagram page, what we’re looking to find are pictures of you and your life.  Your friends.  The ambiance of the place.  Tell us the story of your night, not the story of how many calories you ate.

President Barack Obama before an interview on Instagram2. Make your followers feel exclusive.

Don’t feel the need to share every Instagram shot with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends.  Having a bit of exclusive content just for the people that follow you on Instagram will make them feel…exclusive.

Plus, don’t most of your Instagram followers already follow you on every social network anyway?  Duplicating the content dilutes the number of “likes” your picture will get!

Barack Obama talking in Madison WI on Instagram3. Don’t be afraid to show us what you do at work.

I’m not suggesting that you take your cell phone into super-secretive meetings and start photographing all of the trade secrets your company holds.  But you spend a lot of your life at the office…why not show your followers this real part of your life?

president barack obama sitting at a table from instagram4. Sometimes the best shot cannot be done by you.

Every once in a while you’re going to need to hand your phone over to someone else and ask them to help you get a shot.  Selfies are great, and everything…but it’s sort of difficult to really capture how fabulous your shirt matches your pants without relinquishing control.

barack obama and michelle obama doing a throw back thursday on instagram #tbt5. Participate in #TBT…but not every damn Thursday.

We get it.  You were so skinny…back then.  You were so young…back then.  You were so whatever…back then.

Throwback Thursday (#TBT) is fun.  We all enjoy seeing old photos that you dig up.  But when we start to suspect that #TBT is a way for you to live in the past, we start to feel sorry for you.

We follow you on Instagram because we like to see what you’re up to.  Not what you were up to 20 years ago.  So if you’re going to post a #TBT, do it sparingly.

An Obama supporter from social media6. Don’t be afraid to use the Willow filter.

Some pictures look good all Kelvin-ed out…but don’t be afraid to use the simple black & white filter called “Willow.”

This filter works especially well when there are areas of both light and shadow in your image.

barack obama picture on instagram with no filter social media 10 things image7. Don’t be afraid to use no filter.

I know. I know.  Sharing a photo on Instagram without a filter is a lot like going to McDonalds and asking for no salt on your fries.

Trust me here.  Your Instagram feed will look okay without each image having shadowy corners and sepia tone centers.  Try it once.

michelle obama posing for pictures that were posted to instagram8. Take pictures of people posing…for different cameras.

This isn’t exactly a candid shot since the subjects in the photograph are posing.  But there’s something dynamic about photographs of posed people looking at other cameras.  This makes your Instagram follower feel like part of your action…watching on as the photo is taken instead of looking at just another contrived “Say Cheese!”

barack obama's back as he poses for a pictureThe Obamas do this one well (that’s why I’m including two examples).  Part of the reason they do it so well is because their Instagram is managed by a team of people that are taking photographs at their events.  But this technique is also one that really draws in the viewer and makes them feel like there are on the inside…which is on the list of objectives for the President’s social media campaigns.

obama's re election countdown on instagram9. Have an agenda.

Have something to say…and try to make sure your pictures tell that story.

Your “story” doesn’t have to be as grandiose as running for President of the United States of America.  Perhaps your story is simply “I am a wonderful woman that likes to knit.”  In which case when you see a big ball of knitting yarn and needles sitting next to your arm chair (I know NOTHING about knitting…do you use yarn? are they called needles?) you might feel inspired to snap a photo.

I feel like my Instagram agenda is to show how diabetes affects my life.  Therefore I find myself taking a lot of photos on Instagram of my glucometer and posting videos of diabetes paraphernalia.  Don’t let this “agenda” limit what you share, just allow it to inspire you.  As my friend Kerri said about diabetes, “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps explain me.”

Hat trick: Sunny, Stanley, and Bo. #GoHawks stanley cup dogs10. Do not stop taking pictures of dogs.


This is the one about Science, Diabetes and Social Media.

social media use by people with diabetes

At the ADA’s 73rd Scientific Sessions last week I came across this poster called Social Media Use by Individuals with Diabetes by University of South Florida’s College of Public Health (Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, Nicole Johnson & Stephanie Melton).

I would say that this poster fits into the “What we already know, but it’s nice to see data backing it up” category.  People surveyed found information related to “coping with diabetes” useful.  And they found supportive words/stories/comments helpful.  And the “duh” continues with the finding that over 80% of those surveyed identified as type 1s, while only 2% identified as type 2s…which is explained by the age of the survey participants (and ultimately the age of the people using social media).

The purpose of this study was to address gaps in clinical literature and to assist health professionals understand the social support need of people living with diabetes (hallelujah!).

This poster contains information that we’ve known about and have been talking about for years (that when people with chronic conditions find community online, their lives improve), but it is good to see that the psychosocial/behavioral medicine folks are catching on too.

See the poster here on the ADA’s site.

This is the one that explains what your Instagram choices say about you.

A hand drawn version of the Instagram LogoWhen I saw this infographic from Jason Miller over at Marketo’s blog, I was skeptical.  I’m used to seeing marketing blogs exploiting the use of infographics or top ten lists to make no point.  But this one actually contains some useful info.

For starters, the stats about the number of images uploaded per second and per day to Instagram are interesting.  Jason says, “…the filter you choose says more about you than the picture you take.  The infographic below explains the psychology behind the top 10 Instagram filters, and profiles the personalities of the photographers who use them.”

An infographic about Instagram filers and what they say about your personality.

This is the one about the new Facebook phone.

A drawing of the new Facebook phone.

On Thursday morning, Facebook has a big announcement for us.  They are saying that on Thursday they will announce their “new home on Android.”  And the rumors have ranged from a simple new Android application for Facebook to an entire Facebook Phone that re-purposes the Android software in the same way that Amazon re-purposed with the Kindle Fire.

Over at TechCrunch, Josh Constine quotes “sources” as saying “it will be a modified version of the Andriod operating system with deep native Facebook functionality on the homescreen that may live on an HTC handset.”

The problem with the Facebook phone concept is that it will not fill a need in the current market.  What will this phone offer that the current iPhone or the current Android phones do not?  This market is already very saturated.  A more integrated Facebook presence is hardly a reason to rush out and get a new phone.

I can certainly understand why Facebook would be interested in having users move to a phone that was either created by them or relied more heavily on the user’s Facebook data (contacts, calendar, photos).  But what does the user get out of such a move?

If this is the announcement that Zucky (that’s what all of his friends call Zuckerberg) is planning on making, I’d be surprised if it gets any traction.  Tell me I’m wrong…would you use it?