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.