August 24, 2012

A Mother's Story

“I truly cannot recall that anybody told me that he had Diabetes - the fear of losing him was then very real to me!”

Most people know that symptoms like weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite can mean diabetes, but what if you didn’t know what symptoms and triggers to look for? That’s the situation Ronel Hentschel found herself in almost four years ago, when her son Francois, who was 2 years old, was experiencing symptoms of diabetes. Now Ronel is a true caregiver for her son with a vast knowledge of Diabetes. On Twitter she shares information about diabetes solutions, education and healthy living. In today’s interview, we talk with Ronel about the challenges of learning about diabetes, how social media helped her, and how Francois has adapted to living with diabetes.

1) Can you tell us the story of when your son was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

Francois was only 2 years old, (he is now almost 6). We were posted to Eastern Europe. He started losing weight, stopped eating, and had the typical symptoms. I unfortunately had no knowledge of diabetes. Francois was misdiagnosed for almost two months. One day he was just so weak, that he couldn’t walk! I flew to South Africa, where he had a PH of 6.9 and severe ketoacidosis. He was in ICU for a few days. I truly cannot recall that anybody told me that he had diabetes - the fear of losing him was then very real to me! We were then transferred to an amazing hospital, with a pediatric endocrinologist. Only then did I start to realize what happened to Francois.

2) Can you talk about the process of learning about diabetes? What was difficult about it?

I can recall being totally overwhelmed by all these new terms and numbers! I quickly realized that I held the key to my son’s acceptance of diabetes and his life expectancy - the door that I needed to unlock was knowledge! Our whole life changed completely! Francois went on a pump, which made our life so much easier. Carb counting was probably the easiest for me initially. My biggest challenge was uncontrolled blood glucose levels due to emotions. The mere fact of going to a birthday party or sleeping over at grandma's house had a huge impact on his blood glucose! My other challenge was getting him to eat carbs and his loss of appetite and his total hypoglycemic unawareness.

3) Has social media helped you learn more about Diabetes and how to help your son manage it? If so, what outlets do you use? Are you a part of any online communities?

Social media played a huge part in my search for knowledge! I am making use of twitter and Facebook as well as diabetes journals to empower us as a family. I follow JDRF, IDF, JDCA, parenting diabetic kids and diabetic solutions South Africa on Facebook. I also follow more than 400 role players on twitter and still learn every day from organizations like you!

4) How has Francois adapted to living with Diabetes?

Francois's adjustment was great! I saw myself as a type 3 diabetic, which is the mother of a type 1. It becomes your diabetes to manage! His biggest challenge was last year. I came into his room one night, and he was crying nonstop! He said he didn't want to be diabetic and that we had to remove the pump! We started play therapy the following day - it came out then that the children in his kindergarten told him he is diabetic as his mom gave him too many sweets. Our biggest challenge is to educate other people and children his age so that they don't discriminate against him. Francois has become much more assertive and will talk to children and adults about the different types of diabetes as well as the myths! For that I am very proud of him! Francois is on a pump with continuous glucose monitoring, this is my peace of mind. It is amazing how a 5 year old can interpret the graph!

5) What are some resources, books, etc. that you would recommend to parents whose child has recently been diagnosed with diabetes? 

The pink panther series of books are great! I would recommend parents to make use of social media. Go to Calling All Types on Twitter and see which institutions they are following. Learn from people who know and not people who think they know. Francois is one of so many children in South Africa with type 1 diabetes, I hope and pray for a cure and truly believe that solutions are coming!

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At CallingAllTypes, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you've joined, stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube.

August 20, 2012

Because Betes Will Not Stop Us

Jeff Neitzel, author of the blog, “Betespora, Because Betes Will Not Stop Us,” is an avid social media user and supports many social media online initiatives. So being that Calling All Types is all about supporting online efforts to better manage diabetes and health in general, we thought that Jeff would be a good person to chat with about his social media experience. In this interview Jeff also talks about clinical research and understanding what clinical trials are all about. So, as part of reading this blog, we’re also asking people to chime in on what they would want to learn more about when it comes to clinical research. Leave us a comment here and we’ll compile a list of all your comments for next week’s blog article.

1) For people who are new to the Diabetes Online Community, can you tell us a little bit about the DOC, and the programs, Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (@DiabetesSocMed), Diabetes Daily (@diabetesdaily), and TuDiabetes (@DiabetesHF)

From my perspective, the Diabetes Online Community (aka the DOC) is one way that we, people who are touched by Diabetes, can rejoice in the fact that we are not alone in the Diabetes game of life.  To me, the DOC is most visible via Twitter.

Diabetes Social Media Advocacy - -

Diabetes Social Media Advocacy organizes the weekly DSMA Twitter chats.  I try to participate in the DSMA chats every week.

TuDiabetes is organized by the Diabetes Hands Foundation.  TuDiabetes is an online community that feels a little bit like Facebook to the best of my recollection.  I am no longer a member though.  So, I can't really say more about it.  TuDiabetes was my first step into the DOC though, an excellent first step at that.

I've still never participated as a member of Diabetes Daily, but it's been on my TO DO list. In any case, it's a resource I like to keep on hand because of the useful content there.

2) When did you decide to start a blog and what do you hope people will learn from reading your blog? What has been the most rewarding part of having a blog?

Originally... Sometime back in 2008 or 2009. I ended up ditching it for lack of time though.

However, I re-started my original blog ( last year (2011) for fun.  Finally, I moved its Diabetes-related content to earlier this year (2012).

The most rewarding part of having a blog (specifically one for Diabetes) is the simple knowing that I've got a place where I can think aloud if/when I need to do so.  Now, if others read and get something useful out of it to help them with their personal D-Quests, all the better.

At the end of the day, I hope my blog can be a venue where I can participate in important Diabetes-related work that needs to be done.  I figure it's my job to do it since I live it.

3) The title of your blog is, "Betespora, Because Betes Will Not Stop Us." What does Betespora mean? Can you share some tips you do to make sure Diabetes does not stop you?

Betespora is a little wordplay that digs into what Diabetes means to me...  Betes comes from "Diabetes" and "Livabetes" (regardless of its type), and Spora comes from "Diaspora" (as in the movement of people, ideas, and culture as connectors) to make Betespora.  From point A to B to C and beyond…

Betespora is about the perpetual nature of we, the Betes people, and our ability to rock the boat for the betterment of us all.  The notion of "boat rocking" is a good thing in my mind, but none of us can rock D boat alone.  It takes a team of committed boat rockers to shake off old ideas whose time has passed.  What is life without a little boat rocking and wordplay!?.  Because I will not let my Type 1 Betes stop me from living my life!

NOTE: I am not a medical professional, and this is not medical advice.

The tip or tips I have come from an attitude perspective.  Fitting for me perhaps since I can easily get depressed about things.  Apparently, I'm not the only D-Peep out there who has had dark days either.

So, a positive attitude counts for a lot in my day-to-day life here.  From this, I find the ability to see a fun and lighthearted way to think about Diabetes stuff.  It's a choice I've made to give myself a bit more D-Power than I might have otherwise.

Regardless, it sure helps me survive and thrive despite Diabetes.  Being able to poke some fun at this mad Diabetes life stuff now and again, alone or among friends when appropriate, has proven a valuable coping tool for me here.

4) Have you ever participated in a clinical trial for Diabetes? If so, don't tell us the name of the trial, but if you could talk about your experience that would be great. If not, why and would you be open to participating in a clinical trial?

No, I've not participated in a clinical trial related to Diabetes.  That said, I'd certainly be open to participating in one.  The why is simple in my mind.

I mean, I live with Diabetes every single second of every single minute of every single day.  I qualify by virtue of Diabetes I figure.  So, others benefitting from this fact seems a no-brainer to me.

Granted, I don't know anything about clinical trials or how to learn more about them in the general sense. So, I think I'd need to go to clinical trial school or something.

5) Can you talk about some of the connections you've made with other people with Diabetes through social media outlets and for someone who is new to using social media to learn about Diabetes, where would you suggest they start?

Well, I've been doing this social media (via Twitter mostly) stuff for about 3 years now.  The neat thing is... When I started, I had no idea it would prove to be so valuable in the human connection with other D-Peeps sense. No idea at all. For me at least, this has proven to be life changing in so many ways. The "positive attitude" thing I mention above sprang from this source indirectly. So, that counts as a win in my book.

Besides that, the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has really developed into a point of D-Power in my mind. This is by virtue of the connections. Now, most of my connections with fellow D-Peeps in the DOC are entirely virtual. I've never met most of them in real life (IRL), but that doesn't diminish the power of this community in the slightest I believe.

I've been lucky enough to meet a handful of D-Peeps from the DOC IRL though.  I consider many people from the DOC, whether I've met them IRL or not, to be true friends. We are a massive family of Humans touched by Diabetes in one way or another. This is truly awesome in my mind (and in reality as well).

Somehow, I feel like nothing can stop us.

My suggestions for a social media newbie would be to just jump in. Social media, like life, is a process. Putting one foot in front of the other is a good way to start. I think the easiest way is for a new person to start is to get a Twitter account and test the waters. DSMA Twitter chats are on Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. Follow and check out the #DSMA hashtag.

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At Calling All Types, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you’ve joined, stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube.

August 8, 2012

Healing Diabetes

We first found Charlie, author of the blog, as a follower of ours on Twitter. On Charlie’s profile description he states he is, “Just a regular guy decided to research and try treatments until I find how to cure my Diabetes Type 1.” With a description like that, we had to find out more. We here at Calling All Types commend Charlie for sharing such deep insights into his treatment decisions. Here is our conversation with Charlie.

1) Talk to us about Healing Diabetes. When did you start your blog?

It all started almost five years ago when I decided to start a blog. I wanted to write about my experience of searching a cure for my diabetes, share the knowledge I was acquiring in the process and maybe help create a community where other people with diabetes could interact with each other, share experiences, doubts, get answers to questions… but all with a possible healing as goal.
From the moment I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, 14 years ago now, I decided that I would search a way to heal my body. I am still searching, but I stumbled upon a lot of different treatments, foods and products that can help you to better control your blood sugar or even reverse this condition in some cases of type 2 diabetes.

2) How has social media helped you with managing diabetes and engage with other people like you?

When I started the blog, social media was not so widely used, so I guess the blog itself was presenting me with possibilities to interact with other people that were confronted with the same problem. I was getting a lot of support from my readers who were encouraging me to continue with my search and blog about it.
I recently joined Twitter and Google Plus, although in Google Plus there are not many “normal people” (not techies ;-)) yet. I mainly use them to keep myself updated about diabetes and other related topics.

3) Talk about the 30 Day Diabetes Cure? What drew you to the program?

As I’ve mentioned before, my goal is to search until I find how to cure my diabetes, so I try, read and experience everything that I find to better control my health or even reverse the disease. One of those programs was the 30 Day Diabetes Cure by Dr. Ripich, co-authored by Jim Healthy. I ordered the book, read it and started to apply it. I found this program to be very informative and very practical, giving you a step-by-step process to apply all that information and new habits.

One of the things that I’ve learned from the people commenting in my blog is that they have problems following a diet, or knowing exactly what to eat and what not to eat. Or they want to loose weight but they don’t want to starve. I think this book is great for people with these kinds of problems. And considering the 75+ comments posted under my thorough review of the book, people are getting excellent results with it! (I should make clear here, that it is especially aimed at type 2 diabetes, and that’s probably why I didn’t get the expected results)
In a nutshell, the program is not rocket science, and nothing new, but it is very practical and successful.

4) You were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 23. You say on your website that you “sank into depression.” What helped you accept your diagnosis and raise your quality of life?

The first time I visited and endocrinologist it was horrible. I didn’t know a thing about diabetes and I was shocked by what the doctor was telling me. Without apparent feelings or empathy towards me, he told me that I had to live with this disease for the rest of my live, that I had to change a few things and learn new habits, but that I could live an almost normal life. I guess it was the way he said that which made me sink into a deep depression for the following month.

The only thing that motivated me and increased the quality of my life was reading about the different possibilities to treat the disease, most of them alternative ways, but with proven results of success in some cases. I was convinced that if other people had reversed their diabetes, I could achieve it as well.
And when I started to blog about all this and receive comments of people telling me how my information was helping them with their disease, I felt that I was contributing in a way which felt really good as well. As they say, if you need help, help other people with worse problems first and your problems will seem less important.
Besides this, I’m a very disciplined person and I’ve always taken care of my diet, I exercised regularly and controlled my blood sugar levels carefully. I guess these three things have helped me achieve the quality of life that I have now. Still with insulin, but healthy.

5) What advice would you give to a 20 year old that was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

First of all I would tell him to allow himself to be sad, angry or whatever emotion he’s feeling the first days after having been diagnosed - but not for too long. Then I would suggest to become acquainted with the new diet and get to know how his body responds to each meal. And, thirdly, I would recommend him to search for a solution for his condition and socialize with other like-minded people, be that online or offline.

I always thought that our mind/body knows more than we think. I wrote a post on my blog some months ago about 23 possible causes of diabetes that I found during my research. If you read them and you get a gut-feeling about one of them in particular, I suggest you to pay attention to it and see if there is something you can do about it.

Our health is our own responsibility.

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At CallingAllTypes, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you've joined, stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube.

March 23, 2012

Beat Type 2 Diabetes

Brian BuckleyWhen CallingAllTypes started in October of 2011, Brian Buckley was one of the first people we connected with online. Since then we've always kept an eye on Brian's great initiative, the Beat Type 2 Diabetes Program. This program has great tips on exercise and healthy eating. I recently tried the new Cole Slaw dish. It was delicious. With the CallingAllTypes blog now being devoted to patient interviews, it was only a matter of time before Brian would be spotlighted. Here's my conversation with Brian.

CallingAllTypes: Talk about some of the emotions you had when you were first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Brian: There was quite a mixture of different emotions. First of all I was relieved to find out that there was a reason for my sudden weight loss, blurred vision, incredible thirst, and recent irritability, and that something could be done about it. Pretty much all of my other emotions were negative.

My doctor told me that he has seen my condition handled with oral meds, diet change, weight loss, and exercise, so he said there was no need to start me on insulin. As soon as I had a plan to work on, my analytical side kicked in and I started putting the plan into action. At that point I was happy to have a project that would make me feel better.

CallingAllTypes: Your blog consists of a lot of recipes, diet tips, etc. For someone who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, what are some helpful tips for choosing the right diet?

Brian: The first requirement is that it needs to be something that helps you achieve your goals. This means that you need to be able to stick with it. The most important trait for anyone newly diagnosed with diabetes to develop is discipline. Personally I am a big believer in the 4 Hour Body diet. It has helped me manage my diabetes immensely, and I have no trouble sticking to it. For someone who can't or doesn't want to eat all the beans and legumes that this diet needs, that won't work.

Next you need to be able to easily configure your diet to suit your day-to-day life. It needs to be changeable. If you increase your activity level one day, or have a hypo episode, it's helpful to be able to add carbs into your day without going overboard and gaining weight or causing your BG to fluctuate, so including something that you can snack on when you really need it.

CallingAllTypes: What has been the most rewarding part of the Beat Type 2 Diabetes program?

Brian: The ability to help other people who are going through the same emotions and uncertainty that I did twelve years ago is huge. My purpose in life seems to be here to help. My current business interests, my entire career, and my volunteer interests are all built around that purpose. This program allows me to reach and help a greater number of people.

CallingAllTypes: How has social media helped you in managing diabetes?

Brian: There is more information available now than there ever has been. Social media has provided me with a window into all of that information. Every time I meet a new person on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, I have an opportunity to learn from their experiences. Sure it's necessary to put a filter on all of this information. One thing about diabetes is that we are all different human beings – what works one way for me may work completely different for you. Filter aside; I would rather have access to the information so I can evaluate for myself how it will work for me.

The other really important contribution that social media provides is a huge support network. The people who use social media are sharing by nature. The point of all of it is to connect. I have received so much positive influence from my networks that I can't even fully describe. Their support includes encouragement, advocacy, instruction, opportunity, and friendship. It's incredibly uplifting for anyone with diabetes to know that they're not in it alone. That's how I felt that Friday night in the ER. Social media reaffirms every day that there are thousands of people in my life who are with me and want me to succeed!

With spring here it’s time to start firing up the grill again. I’ll be sure to keep in touch with all of Brian’s healthy recipes for my bbq parties. I hope you’ll do the same. The Calling All Types team would like to thank Brian for a great interview. Don’t forget, you can stay up to date with all things Beat 2 Diabetes by going to

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At Calling All Types, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you’ve joined, stay connected with us through TwitterFacebookFoursquare and YouTube. 

March 9, 2012

Meredith Gruebbel's Social Media Experience

When I first read Meredith Gruebbel’s blog, "With a Side of Insulin", I felt like I was brought into her life. All of the pictures on her blog, for example, her "Almost Wordless Wednesday" blogs or her "Photo Friday" blogs, made me feel like we were having this intimate conversation with me. I just had to reach out and learn more about her experiences with diabetes, her blog, and how she uses social media.

When I contacted Meredith we started talking about how it all began. A few years back, Meredith asked herself the same questions many patients ask when it comes to social media. What the heck is social media? Is it for me? And what can I do with it? Today, Meredith is a participant in many social media initiatives. Her blog has been going strong for a year now, celebrating its anniversary in January. (Be sure to congratulate her on Twitter @fancynancymer.)

Recently, Meredith sat down with the CallingAllTypes team to chat about diabetes and her social media experience. Here's a recap of our conversation:

CallingAllTypes: Can you talk about some of the emotions you had when you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

Meredith: I remember sitting in the doctor's office with my mom (I was 17, just after high school graduation), and the doctor said to us, 'It's either diabetes or a thyroid problem.' And I immediately knew it was going to be diabetes. Mom said, 'It's probably your thyroid; you'll just take a pill every day.' And I told her that it was diabetes. I just had a gut feeling. I wasn't mad, I wasn't upset, I didn't cry... I was just like, 'Well, I have this. So now I have to learn how to live with it. There have, of course, been times over the years that I get really mad or upset, but during the initial few months after my diagnosis, I was just in ‘learning mode.' I wanted to know how to get healthy and stay that way.

CallingAllTypes: For readers who may be thinking about using an insulin pump, what advice would you give them?

Meredith: I know some people say an insulin pump is not right for them, and I respect that choice. I love mine. I couldn’t imagine life without it. I got my pump six weeks after I was diagnosed. In the past 11 years, there have been a few times when I’ve had to take shots because my pump malfunctioned. When that happened, I talked to the doctor to figure out what amount of long lasting insulin to take, because I am so used to the pump.

I can do anything with my pump, it’s waterproof, and I wear it all the time except in the shower. I know some people keep it on but I prefer to take it off for that few minutes. I'd say if you are considering it, do just that. Ask if you can wear a pump for a few days (I had one for three days with saline to try it out, while still giving myself shots) and see how it is. It cut down on having to carry needles and insulin – I never had an insulin pen. Life was easier for me as soon as I got the pump. Less diabetes stuff to carry around, not such a tight eating schedule, snacks here and there without making sure I give myself a shot. I just push a few buttons! And of course, ask questions to those who use pumps! The diabetes online community, through Twitter, Facebook, blogs... you can even ask me! It helps to talk to people who live with it every day of their lives.

CallingAllTypes: When did you decide to start writing a blog? How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Meredith: My blog had its first anniversary in January. How it all began...  I joined Twitter just to see what the big deal was, because I didn't get it. One Wednesday night, Kerri, the only other diabetic I knew on Twitter at the time, was posting things about diabetes with the hashtag #dsma. I slowly started following every week. Then I started to join in the conversation, realizing there were SO many other people living with this disease on Twitter. I discovered how many of them had blogs. I'd find myself sucked into them, amazed at how I finally felt like I knew people I shared the same feelings with, something I didn't have physically because I don’t know many people around me who have type 1. I had so many thoughts based on what I read that I wanted a place to write them all down. For a few weeks, I wrote my blog, but didn't share it with everyone. And when I did, I was glad. I received comments and responses from people who understood what I was saying, and I have made so many friends because of it!

CallingAllTypes: For people who want to use social media to learn more about diabetes or connect with other patients and caregivers but haven’t yet, how should they start?

Meredith: Do whatever you feel comfortable with. Read some blogs, search a Facebook group, follow a few people on Twitter... Just be warned, when you join the #doc (diabetes online community) on Twitter, you're going to be smothered in love and support! Once you join one thing, you'll see how much it means to everyone and HOW far our community reaches. It's worldwide. (Really!)

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At CallingAllTypes, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you've joined, stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube.

March 2, 2012

A Moment with the "You Can Do This Project"

Kim Vlasnik, author of the popular blog, "Texting My Pancreas" is an avid user of social media. She also finds and gives support to people with diabetes through several other social media outlets. The strong bonds she creates through social media sparked her desire to start another initiative: The "You Can Do This Project" is a growing community of videos, created by and for people with diabetes, with the aim of providing validation, hope, and encouragement through honest talk for those who struggle with the disease. The response rate has been nothing short of extraordinary. Through her blog and other initiatives, Kim exemplifies CallingAllTypes' core mission of creating an online health movement. We reached out to Kim to share her story with us. Here's our conversation.

CallingAllTypes: When were you first diagnosed with diabetes? Can you talk about some of the emotions you had when you first found out?

Kim: I was diagnosed at the age of six, in 1986. I don’t know if one can use a word like "luckily" when talking about developing diabetes, but because I was so young at the time, I don't remember much. I do remember being admitted to the hospital and learning how to inject into oranges for practice. I remember feeling scared and pretty confused about what was going on. 

CallingAllTypes: What made you decide to start the blog, "Texting My Pancreas"?

Kim: I had been an active user on (JDRF's social networking site for T1) for a few months and started noticing how long-winded my responses were getting. I had found such great help, relief and encouragement in the diabetes patient blogs I had been reading, and I hoped I could provide the same sort of things for someone else by starting my own thing.

CallingAllTypes: Aside from your blog, what other social media outlets do you use to connect with people who have diabetes?

Kim: I’m not sure I can go a full 24 hours without Twitter – it's my favorite way to connect with people! Searching hashtags like #dsma (which is also a weekly Twitter chat – check out for more information), #bgnow, and #dblog helps me find other people with diabetes who tweet. I also use Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Skype, Spotify (I'm serious... someone has sent me a playlist with songs about insulin), and the list goes on. People with diabetes are everywhere; you just have to know how to look for them!

CallingAllTypes: What is the most helpful aspect of social media for managing diabetes?

Kim: The most beneficial aspect to me is that social media can be there for you exactly when you need it. Real-life support groups usually don’t have that kind of flexibility. If I'm up at 3:00 a.m., recovering from a bad low, there is always someone awake and ready with a sympathetic tweet or message. If I have a question, there’s always someone there to offer insight on what they do – and then I can take that information and decide what to do for myself.

CallingAllTypes: The "You Can Do This Project" is a great initiative. How did it start?

Kim: After seeing a Google Chrome commercial that featured It Gets Better, I felt very inspired. It touched me to see how a community could come together to support those who were facing obstacles that seemed bigger than they were. And just as soon as I had that thought, I had another one: the diabetes community faces a lot of struggles and despair, too. Could we lift each other up in the same way? Could we use videos, as an organized group, to tell our stories and let each other know that we aren’t alone when it comes to the hard parts of living with diabetes? As it turns out, we're doing just that – there are nearly a hundred entries to date, and the list keeps growing. There has been such a great diversity of videos submitted that I think just about anyone can find someone they can connect with. It's been so fun and rewarding to watch how it's grown, and continues to grow.

CallingAllTypes: You recently wrote a blog called, "Feedback = Action." In the blog you show the results of a survey for the "You Can Do This Project" What was the goal of your survey and were you surprised by the amount of responses you got?

Kim: The goal was to get a look into what the diabetes community wants from "You Can Do This Project", and gather some fresh ideas on how it can reach (and help) more people. I was pleasantly surprised at how many people not only took the survey, but also gave very thoughtful and detailed feedback. In response to the desire to bring things "offline" to a wider audience, "You Can Do This Project" will have a table at the exhibit hall at the Friends For Life conference this July, which is really exciting. I'm also hoping to secure some space at TCOYD in Des Moines this September. This step really wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the feedback I received and the subsequent funds the community helped me raise to cover the registration and setup fees. It just goes to show that when a community can rally around something with passion and purpose, great things can happen.

Calling All Types would like to thank Kim for sharing her story with us. To learn more about the "You Can Do This Project" and how to participate, click here.

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At CallingAllTypes, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you've joined, stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube.

January 24, 2012

One Father's Story: Arden's Day

"I hunkered down, stayed in my house with Arden, and figured everything out as if we were the first people to have this happen to them… It may sound odd, but I didn’t ever consider turning to the Internet, and I still, to this day, don’t know why. I should have." – Scott Benner (Arden's Day)

On July 22, 2006, Arden Benner turned two years old and was given a clean bill of health. However, shortly after her annual checkup Arden's parents noticed she seemed sick. She had a slight fever, was lethargic, had constant urination, she would sleep for hours on end. It was not long after these initial symptoms that Arden was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It was at this time that Scott Benner; Arden's father, took a proactive approach to caring for his daughter. 

Scott has built one of the most successful blogs for parents with children with diabetes. His blog, "Arden’s Day," was recently recognized as one of Philadelphia's most valuable blogs for 2011. Scott isn't stopping there. Recently, he started a charitable foundation to raise money for families who can't afford insulin pumps for their children. Though there is no cure for diabetes, Scott and Arden's journey with diabetes is an uplifting story about the proactive approach parents can take with their children. CallingAllTypes recently reached out to Scott to learn more about their story. Here is our conversation with Scott.

CallingAllTypes: Tell us a little bit about your daughter Arden.

Scott: Arden is difficult to describe. She is sweet, considerate, and empathetic but equally spirited, focused, and sharp. She can be warm and cuddly, but I wouldn't try to get something over on her. She enjoys all things girly yet can hit a softball out of the infield. Perhaps I should have just said, "She's the best."

CallingAllTypes: When Arden was first diagnosed with diabetes, what was the process you went through to learn about diabetes?

Scott: I don’t recommend the process that I used, but I imagine that I wasn't the first to employ it. I hunkered down, stayed in my house with Arden, and figured everything out as if we were the first people to have this happen to them. I taught myself from the ground up with the help of my wife Kelly and the information that we received from Arden's endo. It may sound odd, but I didn't ever consider turning to the Internet and I still, to this day, don't know why. I should have.

CallingAllTypes: Can you give us an example of one of the challenges you have faced as a parent of a child with diabetes?

Scott: The toughest part for me was managing all of the new stress that I was experiencing. I definitely didn't do well with it in the beginning. I guess if you call crying in the shower and stress eating "manage," then I did okay. I've since learned to deal with things much better. Diabetes has taught me that I can handle much more then I once thought possible.

CallingAllTypes: When and why did you decide to start a blog?

Scott: I recently admitted something on my site and I'll mention it here to answer your question. I had never seen a diabetes blog when I first pushed Arden's Day up onto the interwebs in August of 2007. In fact I felt a little like Chris Columbus for about a week, which is how long it took me to realize that I had discovered the Americas but in 1973. I published my thoughts about being the caregiver to a child with type 1 to give my family and close friends the insight that I thought they would need to interact with us in our new situation. I never intended or expected that anyone else would see it (though I may have hoped). About a year after that was the first time that I made the URL public, and that was only to try and increase my JDRF Walk donations. Arden's Day has come a long was since then.

CallingAllTypes: What kind of reaction have you received from other people about your blog?

Scott: The first person that ever emailed me did so to give me advice. It was advice that I clearly needed, and she reached out on her own. Her kindness was the first time that I experienced the power of the diabetes online community, and it is the basis for why I was able to keep the site going this long. It feels good to help people avoid some of the unnecessary growing pains that come with learning to live with type 1. People have told me that because of how young Arden was when she was diagnosed (almost exactly 2 years), the site is like a "What to Expect" book. A roadmap that tells you that the road is about to bend hard to the left before you can see it coming. I take a great deal of pride in knowing that it helps.

CallingAllTypes: How do you use social media? Have you found information through social media that has changed what you and your daughter do to manage her condition?

Scott: Social media has taught me that no one should have to learn about type 1 the way that I did. I think that your endo should show you how to get a Twitter name before you leave the hospital. I have received and shared so much good and timely information with people through my site, and it makes me sad to think that there are people out there that want and need this information but can't find it. I've learned way too much with the help of others to list everything, but one recent example would be that social media helped me find a better insulin for Arden.

CallingAllTypes: Could you talk about the charity foundation you're starting and how people can get involved and support your cause?

Scott: Two years ago (maybe more now), Arden began using an OmniPod insulin pump; I was immediately struck by how much easier managing her type 1 was with a pump. The stress relief alone was immeasurable. Since then, the amount of people that I hear from that can’t but want an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor is staggering. Most of them are insured but either are underinsured, incapable of affording the out-of-pocket costs or both. I spent a number of years wondering how to help those families feel the relief that these amazing devices can bring. One day in November of 2011 I made the decision to launch a charity to help children accomplish this goal.

I reached out to the DOC, (Diabetes online community), and made my intentions known. I couldn’t afford the 501(c)3 filing fees on my own so I asked on my site if anyone could consider throwing a few dollars in to help. Even though I haven’t been granted a charitable organization distinction yet, in four days there was nearly $3,000 in the PayPal account that I set up. I also received many offers to help and a ton of support. One of the many emails was from an attorney that offered to help me get set up. That process is happening now, and I expect that we should have all of the necessary paperwork filed this spring. After that, we wait for the okay from the government and then the good work can begin. I’m currently talking with a few organizations that are interested in sponsoring my idea, and I think that, with some luck, we may be able to begin getting kids pumps and CGMs by late 2012- early 2013. 

If this charity seems like something that you would like to support, fund raise for, or just be kept in the loop about, the best way to let me know (for now) would be by becoming a site member at Arden’s Day. When the time comes for action, I’ll be able to contact you.

You can keep up with Scott and Arden's initiatives by following the links below. On behalf of the Calling All Types team, we'd like to thank Scott for taking for sharing this story. We wish the entire Benner family the best of luck going forward.

Keep in touch with the Ardens day blog: 

Follow Scott and Arden on Twitter: @ArdensDay

Join the conversation on Facebook:

The decision to participate is always yours and your feedback is always wanted. At Calling All Types, we believe finding the right online resources to better manage your diabetes should be a whole lot easier! So sign up and be a part of our growing online health movement. Once you’ve joined, stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube.