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.
I’m not trying to be judgemental with this post. I’m seriously just hoping to unpack some of my thoughts on the topic.
I have good friends (online and off) that sport cute diabetes-related tattoos and I’ve even toyed with the idea of getting one myself. And I’ve read that there is a growing number of people who are using tattoos as a more permanent medical alert. In fact, The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported last May that medical tattooing appears to be increasing, partly because of the cost of medical alert bracelets.
But here’s my question: Do medical responders even look for diabetes tattoos? Is this something they are trained to do? I have heard people say that EMTs aren’t even so good at finding medical alert jewelry when it’s worn around the neck. I struggle to see how a tat would do the job.
As I said a few paragraphs ago, I’m not writing this to be judgemental. I’m really just curious if anyone (any EMTs reading?) has any insight on this.
I do have opinions about people that get tattoos to mark the dates that they were diagnosed (diaversary) or just because they feel that diabetes has become a part of their character. To them I say, “hell yea!”
Sai has a neurological disorder that causes episodic muteness and muscle spasms. His doctor has advised him to have juice when the tremors get really bad to help him stay in control. Like a person with diabetes carrying juice boxes through security, this shouldn’t be a problem. TSA rules allow him and people with diabetes to bring any amount of juice through a checkpoint.
Personally, I’ve never had any issues with TSA security and my diabetes supplies. It’s a long story, but I once flew with 12 vials of insulin and wasn’t even questioned. I have noticed, however, that the level of “concern” a TSA agent has about our supplies is a bit arbitrary. Perhaps depending on the training of a particular airport or maybe even the mood of a particular agent.
Here’s a video explanation of a pretty unfortunate event that happened to Sai at SFO:
This could happen to me. Or any of us that travel with our diabetes supplies. As Sai mentioned on his website, someone with no medical training should not be responsible for figuring out what is medically necessary. He’s pursuing administrative and civil actions against the TSA, and Sai’s fight is one to keep an eye on. The way Sai is treated could easily be you or your friends with diabetes.