Many people have been eagerly waiting for the Dexcom G6 to be announced.
Well, it just so happens that it is now FDA approved and available in June. I had the special privilege of being sent a Dexcom G6 to try out and so far, I am loving it. As promised, I wanted to share my open and honest opinion about this device, so I thought what better way to share my thoughts than through a blog.
First and foremost, I want to say how incredible this device is. I had the opportunity to see a mock-up of the device at the JDRF Type One Nation Summit and was even more excited to use this new product! The whole site and transmitter is about 33% thinner than the Dexcom G5. It is much more user friendly and has a longer wear time than the G5. You can now wear your site and get continuous glucose readings for 10 full days before you have to change out your site. You can also view your blood sugar readings on your phone, watch, and receiver that comes with the device.
One really exciting feature is that the Dexcom G6 does not require any fingerstick calibrations, which means you no longer have to prick your fingers for a manual blood sugar check anymore. You can now fully depend on this device to be even more accurate than before and allow you to have even more freedom in knowing what your blood sugars are. I have been wearing the Dexcom G6 for about a week now and have been comparing the G6 to the G5. For the first few days, I was wearing both CGMs just out of curiosity on how much more accurate the G6 really is. From what I observed, the G6 was way more accurate in comparison to the G5. I also would still check my blood sugars manually just to compare the numbers and my Dexcom was very close to the actual reading. It is intended to be 20 points above or below the actual reading, which it has been.
The device also has a new app in which there is a whole new design (similar to that of the G5, only better), and there are now more options for alerts and settings in which you can customize to your liking. Now, when having a low blood sugar, this device will alert you 20 minutes before a predicted severe low of 55 mg/dL, which I think is amazing that it can detect that for you. It truly does give peace of mind in knowing what to expect and when, giving you alerts ahead of time so you can try and prevent a bad low before it hits you.
The part of this device that I cannot praise enough is the insertion. Before, you would have to plunge a big needle into your skin and then remove it, leaving a plastic cannula deep into your skin. Now, all you do is apply to device to your skin, push a button, and within seconds, the device is in your body! When people ask me what it feels like to insert the G6, I like to describe it as “a puff of air hitting your skin, that’s it!”. The first (and only) time I inserted my CGM, I was blown away at how painless it truly was. This is going to be a huge game changer for children who have to wear a CGM as they will not feel a thing when the time comes to insert the device into their skin.
All in all, this device is great. I am obsessed at how this product works and helps me feel as a Type 1 Diabetic. It definitely allows me to live my life and not worry as much as I truly can trust what my readings are and know what is going on inside of my body. If medical technology is this good now, I am even more excited as to what the future holds for Type 1 Diabetes. With the Dexcom G6, Diabetes is not all bad.
Last Sunday, April 22, 2018, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at my very first Type 1 event. JDRF hosted their annual Type One Nation Summit in Pasadena as part of the Los Angeles chapter. My goal for this year has been to get more involved in the Diabetic community, so I just knew that I had to reach out and see if I could be a part of this amazing event! I was given the privilege to work with children who also have Type 1 Diabetes, which was such a surreal and eye-opening experience. Also, throughout the day, I was able to meet many new and amazing Diabetics, many of whom I have met through the online community and now was able to meet them in person.
As the day started, I was greeted by some very kind people working the event who helped get me situated and allowed me to find my way around the place. As I walked through the convention center, many different Type 1 brands and companies were there with their very own booths, which allowed us T1Ds to get some more knowledge and have our questions answered. Brands such as Dexcom, Medtronic, OmniPod, Myabetic, and so many others were there with a few very kind reps from each brand. They were all so nice in welcoming quests and helping them find their new favorite T1D brand. I for one was fascinated by the Dexcom booth as they were promoting their latest and greatest device, the Dexcom G6. It was so neat to be able to see the product right then and there as the Dexcom reps were there showing how it works.
As I went to help the children who lived with T1D, I found myself in a room of so many wonderful kids. You would think that these kids would be somewhat down for the fact that they have to live with T1D, but that wasn’t the case at all. The kids I worked with were so happy to be at the event and meet new friends. I would ask them different questions such as how long they have had Type 1 for, what their blood sugars were (and we would compare our numbers with each other), and what devices they use. There was an instant connection with many of the kids as they were so responsive and excited to share. The day went by and they were thrilled to be in this space with each other as they worked on different projects and had different guests come in and talk with them.
Throughout the event, I would go back and forth from the T1D kids to the T1D adults and found myself fascinated with each and every special bond that was formed with one another. I was able to attend a few break-out sessions and listen in on some very interesting panels, some of which I was familiar with the speakers, which made them much more interesting and enjoyable. I must say that whoever put together this event really knew what Diabetes is actually like as they thought of everything to be presented that day. The topics that they talked about were so relatable to people living with Type 1, which made it so special to be a part of. We even got to meet a T1D hero who has been living with Type 1 for 58 years! He was such an inspiration.
As the day went by, more friendships were formed, more amazing T1D brands were discovered with some amazing purposes in the Diabetic community, and all in all, this event was a beautiful space where we could all come together as one big T1D family. Whoever was there was in support of one another and would lift each other up. New people came, but were immediately invited into the group and fit in right away. Many traveled from near and far to be together on this special day for this extra special event, and that right there made me realize how when we stick together as one big T1D family, this disease has nothing on us. We are brave, strong, and true fighters, we won’t give up and we will rise above in times of trouble. Diabetes doesn’t own us.
If you want to get more involved with the T1D community (which I highly recommend, it will definitely change your life for the better), get in contact with your local T1D organizations and be on the lookout for events/meet-ups in your area and just go for it! It just takes one time to get involved and you will be hooked! Being with other Diabetics is contagious and you will want to meet even more Diabetics each time!
I lie in bed with one eye open, ears still ringing from my poorly selected, overplayed alarm tone. I sit half hunched over my glucose monitor attempting the first blood-drop-to-test-strip co-ordination of the day. Its 05h30, I have fasted for 6 to 8 hours, it’s time to dive into diabetes. My test strip sucks up the drop of blood and counts down to my first glucose reading of the day:
BEEP: 4.6mmol/l (84)
BEEP: 9.6mmol/l (173)
BEEP 16.6mmol/l (299)
The good, the average and the ugly.
These are the 3 general ranges of readings that might greet me at the first finger prick of the day. It’s only one of the many sugar readings that lie ahead, but it is a special one to pay attention to, as your morning glucose reading can provide important insight into your diabetes control.
A fasted reading has a myriad of information which you can choose to ignore, or preferably dissect and investigate for optimum diabetes control. I believe it is vital to ask myself why? Why is my blood glucose this level and what were my preceding actions?
I will take you through my 3 ranges and my general approach to morning sugar readings and how I personally troubleshoot these readings. We each tackle diabetes differently, but hopefully the following brings some insight into your morning sugars or encourages you think critically of those interesting rise and shine numbers!
My personal values are 3.8-5.6mmol/l
Oh this is a sweet, gem of a reading. It’s the real “roll out of bed on the right side” number.
Perfectly in range, it is still important to acknowledge the formula that achieved this number. We could all do with a little positive reinforcement and mindfully recognize and enjoy our diabetes successes! I always ask myself, “What did I do well?”
This sugar reading generally informs me that I have correctly dosed my long acting insulin as it did not bring me into the clutch of hypoglycaemia when fasting during my sleep. It was also sufficient to meet the cascade of morning hormones such as cortisol and hyperglycaemia it brings along with it. This sugar happily greets me when I don’t snack after dinner and I eat around 3 hours before bed-time. This plan allows for an honest, stable blood sugar reading before bed where my injected insulin has already peaked in activity, and I can expect predictable glucose readings as I sleep.
My personal values are 6-9mmol/l
It’s a sugar range that is higher than I would like for a fasting blood glucose level, but it’s not remotely the end of the world. To solve this morning glucose and to prevent it creeping higher, I have my insulin dosage for my breakfast plus a dash more insulin to correct. I wait 20-30 minutes for my insulin to start working and bring my glucose down before having my breakfast. I ask my “why?” and make a mental note of how I could improve and act accordingly. If went to bed with a great blood glucose level and I woke up high, it could be various things:
1. Insufficient long-acting insulin: The Dawn phenomenon
When I have my continuous glucose monitor (CGM), the Dexcom, attached, this will be displayed as a nice steady graph with readings in glucose range for the first 2/3rds of sleep, only to find in the few hours before waking my blood glucose slowly and steadily increases. This is due to the get-up-and-go hormones that pump through your body to prepare you for waking and tackling the day. These sneaky buggers include growth hormones, cortisol, glucagon and epinephrine and they increase your insulin resistance, causing blood sugar to rise.
2. Too much insulin: The Somogyi effect
This is an interesting stress response of your body, a rebound effect of low blood glucose while sleeping. If you have too much insulin, long acting or short acting, and you experience a low while sleeping your body mounts a survival response and encourages your body to release sugar back into your blood via adrenaline and cortisol. This low may not be rapid or severe enough to cause a seizure, but sufficient to mount a physiological survival response from your body.
3. Not enough short-acting insulin
This is usually prompted by snacking before bed and eating late. My stomach is still full and has not emptied. My blood sugar will be in range when I get to sleep, but as my tummy works to digest my food, sugar trickles into my blood which I thought I had sufficiently covered by my short-acting. This especially occurs if I eat meals that have a carbohydrate, protein and high fat content. It has even been dubbed “The Pizza Effect”, where fats and protein delay the absorption of carbohydrates from a meal. The most challenging part is that you don’t know when the carbohydrates are going to be dumped into your bloodstream as sugar. It could be more than 5 hours until you feel the true effect of your meal. This could also be a reason for a really high morning blood glucose reading, the one where you would rather turn over and head back to sleep, which brings me to my final morning range, which I like to call the “Lie in Bed for a Few Minutes in Denial”.
The “Lie in Bed for a Few Minutes in Denial”
My personal values are anything double digit
The “Man, I messed up” feels. I most likely did not give myself enough insulin for the previous night’s meal, or I ate complete rubbish, did a massive carbohydrate count guestimate (that’s right folks- guess and estimate can really be combined into one perfect word), it could be “the pizza effect”, or I forgot my long acting insulin.
The alternative explanation is that I woke up with low in the middle of the night and quite passionately, dove into my bedside glucose stash, bathed myself in sugar before falling back asleep in a pile a sweet wrappers. (Yes, I have awoken with gummy sweets melted into my back and bed sheet).
If my sugars are really bad in the morning, there is usually a pretty grand, blatantly obvious reason as to why they are absolutely deranged. I find myself glancing in the mirror, at my poor, hard-done-by face to ask myself why? My expression smirks, “Oh girl, you know why. You know.”
This is where the power of the mind can transform your day. You can switch to victim. You can choose guilt and actively bring yourself down. You can choose to let a number on a plastic monitor define your day or you can free yourself from mental binds, for you are capable, you are strong and you are going to tackle the day.
My go-to plan of action:
1. Massive bottle of water with loads of top ups
2. Small simple, low sugar breakfast (I find waiting for my sugars to come down before eating leaves me more frantic and stressed)
3. More water
4. Add Insulin
Tip: Don’t give yourself 70000 units because you are panicking and desperately want your sugar to go down as quickly as possible (TRACY SANDERS I am talking to you girl). A resultant severe hypoglycaemia does not make it easier to improve the day.
5. Forgive yourself, give thanks to your body for all the other goodness it brings to you and power forward.
Transform your WHY’s into WISE, pay attention to each nugget of information your body and glucometer communicates to you. By building up an understanding of your sugars, you build a stronger relationship with your body and mind. Work closely with your support network, endocrinologist and diabetes educator to make the correct adjustments to suite your body, always ask questions and challenge your knowledge and experience of type one.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with Type 1 Diabetes to the point where you just don’t want to deal with it anymore? You may feel the need to cope with your Diabetes in a different way. Many will go off their Insulin pump for a while and go back to daily syringes/ pen injections as a way to feel a sense of freedom from this disease. Unfortunately, us Diabetics cannot just “stop” Diabetes. We have to fight daily in order to stay alive. We have to take Insulin in different moments throughout the day and watch our blood sugars fluctuate from stubborn highs to difficult lows. At some point, we all go through a burnout phase where T1D just doesn’t feel bearable anymore, that is why I have put together a little guide as to how you can stand up to the burnout phase and keep on pushing through!
1/ Keep a positive mindset – This seems easier said than done, but trust me, in order to feel a positive presence on you as you go about your day, every morning, start the day fresh and new and remind yourself of all your accomplishments in life and how far you have come. Always let yourself know who you are and how brave and strong you are.
2/ Self-talk – Every day is different and some days (as we all know) can be very bad in terms of our Diabetes. There is a lot to think about throughout our day, things such as what our blood sugars may be, what supplies we need to have with us as we go somewhere during the day, and also planning for emergencies, that being said, we must make room for thoughts of reassurance. We need to talk ourselves through a bad low and tell ourselves that everything will be okay, just like it always is. We need to be our own friend who will be there when no one else is. Having positive and calm self-talk is a good way to walk you through your day and be your own hero.
3/ Do what makes you feel alive – we all face Diabetes every moment of everyday, and it can almost feel as though everything is about Diabetes. Sometimes, we may not want to think about Diabetes all the time (within reason), that is why we need to make time for other things in life that bring us true joy and help take our minds off of T1D for a bit. Doing something you love, such as going out with friends, playing a sport, or spending time with family can be the very thing that can help you cope with T1D burnout.
4/ Take a pump holiday – Though it may be difficult to keep your blood sugars in your normal range, taking a break from wearing your Insulin pump (if you wear one) can make you feel free and have one less thing constantly reminding you of your Diabetes. You can do this for a day, a week, or even a whole month, it’s really up to you. However long you need to take a break from wearing your pump, go for it, because what some don’t realize is that wearing a pump can change a person and mess with their emotions (in some cases) to the point where they feel “different”, which isn’t that case at all. Wearing a pump is a blessing and is what essentially keeps us alive each and every day.
5/ Accept your struggle – Just know that eventually, this T1D burnout phase you may be going through will go away and you will be able to get back in the game. Remember, we ALL face burnout periods in our life, but guess what? We all get over them eventually. Accepting the fact that you are stressed out, annoyed, and tired of T1D is sometimes what we need to get over that phase. Sometimes, just feeling the sadness you are going through is important and perfectly okay, because when you feel it, you work through it. It’s all one big learning process on how to cope with your thoughts and emotions. At the end of the day, we’re all humans. Diabetic or not, we go through tough life situations and working through them is just one way to grow as a person and be able to allow for empathy towards others going through difficult life situations.
6/ You are not alone – When you feel like all things are going wrong with your Diabetes, a great way to vent off and work through it all is turning to the amazing T1D community that is out there, waiting to help out in any way. Connecting with others (in person or online via social media) can help you as you will soon realize that you are not the only one dealing with burnout at the moment and that you can fight T1D together. This has been especially helpful to me as I was in a dark place for a while until I turned to the community for help and support. Now, I am at the happiest place I have ever been with my Diabetes and I realized that T1D is not all that bad.
7/ Live your life! – I get it, T1D is a horrible disease. But just remember, you are bigger, better, and stronger than T1D. Remember to smile through it all, laugh daily, and be kind to others. Make life how you want and always choose to stay actively positive, because when you are positive, whether you’re high or low, you will have motivation and strength to keep on going and T1D will just be one of those things in life we end up getting used to. When we feel like we’ve mastered T1D, we’ll be able to accept what’s on our plate at the moment.
I truly hope these tips and tricks on how to cope with T1D burnout helped you out if you are feeling this at the moment. It’s okay to be frustrated at times, but be sure to never stay in that phase forever. Life is too short to stay in a bad place with your Diabetes.
Growing up, running was always my punishment for the other sports I played (tennis, volleyball, and softball). We would run if we missed, run if we lost, etc. Running was never something I got to do, but had to do, rather. I’d had a distorted view of working out (outside of playing sports competitively) and I saw working out as punishment for what I ate, etc.
By pushing my body too hard, at the age of 21, I’ve already had shoulder surgery, five stress fractures in both my shins and lumbar spine, as well as four cortisone injections. So after years of putting my body through intense workouts to train, I am finally working out to heal my body and mind.
So what shifted in my love-hate relationship with “movement”? My mindset. While I used to view running, cycling, swimming as the enemy or the “worst part” of training, I now view it as something I GET to do. I get to move my body, as quickly or slowly as I please. I get to be outside. I get an hour to move how I want to– however feels good for my body.
I used to push myself through a run when I could hardly walk, or through shin splints on a long run, now I don’t. Now, I run or bike when I want, put on a great playlist, and enjoy the movement, the celebration of what my body CAN do. I practice yoga daily because it is sustainable for me, and I love the mental and physical reset it provides for me. I focus on how it feels, what I need, and am very consious of my blood glucose levels when working out.
My advice to those who have a distorted view of gyms or physical activity, or even just need motivation to start working out is to find something you love, that you can sustain. Maybe for you this is dance, yoga, boxing, a long walk– or a multitude of act ivies combined.
“Speak like you love yourself. Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself.”
When first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we are told how we will feel. Doctors and nurses come in and tell us what we may experience when we are faced with a low or a high blood sugar, but that’s about it. Mind you most of these medical professionals are NOT Diabetic, which means that they don’t truly know what Diabetes “feels” like. Not only are we not able to fully know what symptoms of T1D feel like until we experience them on our own, but we are never actually mentally prepared for how life is going to feel like from now on, from the good times, to the not so good moments. How we know how Diabetes is exactly like is by simply living with it and experiencing all the possible situations on our own time.
For example, in the hospital, a doctor would typically educate you on low and high symptoms (shakiness, headache, fast heartbeat, etc.), but that doctor doesn’t actually know what it genuinely feels like. When we are faced with our first low blood sugar as a Type 1 Diabetic, it can be a real shocker in the sense that we are not expecting it to feel the way it actually does.
I can remember my very first low when I was essentially “on my own”. I had just gone back to school (6th grade) two weeks after being diagnosed and hadn’t fully understood how important carbohydrates were when on Insulin. I went to lunch that day and didn’t like the bread on the sandwich I was eating, so I decided to not eat the bread and eat the protein inside the sandwich instead, as I thought I was being healthy. Of course, shortly after lunch and having not eaten the carbs I took Insulin for, I had a very bad low. The sweats, shaking, and fast heart beat were so prominent in that low of mine and I needed a friend to walk me to the nurse’s office, where I was given some apple juice to quickly bring my sugar levels back up. Scary, I know, but that was necessary as I then learned why this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.
Trusting your gut is key in living with T1D. You may have just checked your blood sugar minutes before and had a good number. Minutes later, you feel a bit funny but don’t think you could have gone low (or high) in such a short amount of time, but then, you do. You listen to your gut and trust your feelings and, you guessed it, a low. Had you not trusted your own gut, you could have been in for a really bad experience. This can happen in a variety of different situations as a Type 1 Diabetic. You can feel low symptoms when you are actually just fine. You can feel as though your blood sugar is high, when actually, you’re low. Knowing your body and how you feel when certain situations arise can be the thing that saves your life.
Nowadays, we have Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that tell us what our blood sugars are and where they’re headed, which can give us peace of mind as we go about our day, but can also create anxiety as we can see when we may be going severely low or high at a bad time (work, school, meetings, etc.). Though we can see our blood sugar readings being updated every few minutes, we should not rely on the level of accuracy 100% of the time. Often times, the readings on our CGMs can be way off. That is why we must trust our gut and know our bodies. Every now and then, I may find my CGM readings to be about 100 points off of what my actual blood sugar is, which is extremely dangerous. That just comes to show, always be the one in control of your body and your feelings. You can only depend on yourself to determine how you are truly feeling, and when you do, there is a level of peace in knowing that you were able to catch a bad Diabetic feeling before it caused an emergency.
So always remember, YOU are in control of how you feel. Not your CGM, not your Doctor, but you.
Wearing a form of medical ID can be the factor that can potentially save your life. As a Type 1 Diabetic, it is important that we wear some type of medical ID at all times (especially when out alone in public). When we go out into the world and live our lives, we may often times face situations that we might not have control over. Thankfully, we have devices to hopefully help us be in the know at all times with our Diabetes, such as a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), but still, at times, we may experience severe situations with our blood sugars that may result in an emergency.
Without getting too deep into a dark topic (as I am sure we all already know about), I do have to say, there is always a danger, regardless, when it comes to Diabetes. Let’s be real, T1D is considered a “disease” which does have some pretty serious consequences such as really high blood sugars (ending up in DKA) or severe low blood sugars to the point where we may pass out or go into a coma. These are fears none of us want to think about, but somehow, they’re always on our minds. Fear. Something that takes over when diagnosed with T1D. There is nothing to worry about though! We are all on top of our Diabetes and know all the potential risk factors, we just have to be aware and plan ahead.
Where does the role of medical ID come in? Well, say we do experience a medical emergency, if we are alone but are wearing some form of medical ID, such as a bracelet, necklace, ring, tattoo, or ever a simple wallet card, that will help the general public/paramedics know what may have caused the emergency and they can help out as much as possible in saving our lives as they will know what actions they need to take, as essentially, time is everything in an emergency.
I guess you could say that medical ID is more for someone to be able to reference in the case of an emergency. Either way, it will give you the assurance and peace of mind in knowing that you will be taken care of properly in the case of an emergency.
I know that you may not want to wear a medical ID all the time, as it may make you feel “labeled” as a Diabetic, and trust me, I have felt that way at some point in my life, however, so many amazing brands have created casual and modern medical ID jewelry that can go with just about anything on any day. You have to find what your style is and what you feel most comfortable wearing. Once you do so, you will be able to wear your ID wherever you go, feeling confident and safe all the time!
Live your life and don’t let T1D slow you down one bit! All you have to do is take a few simple steps towards your safety as a Diabetic and you will be good to go!
When living with Diabetes, there really aren’t any “ordinary” days. Every day, regardless of what goes on, has some type of situation. You could have perfect blood sugars all day, but you may have to change out your pump site. You could have a day where you are still within your weeklong range of wearing your Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and don’t have to put in a new site, but be struggling with constant high blood sugars. My point is, no day goes by with T1D in which everything is just “perfect”. However, even though Diabetes doesn’t seem fair all the time, we can still experience several really good days.
When I sit down and think of what an ordinary Diabetes day looks like, I immediately think of how that consists of sticking to a relaxed daily routine. We all have them, but some days, those routines can change quite drastically and you may have to skip out on some tasks you always do. However, an ordinary day with T1D can simply be waking up every day feeling the same and knowing how your blood sugars typically will be in the morning, given that some mornings may be so off to the point where you really don’t know what went wrong, I mean after all, this is Diabetes we’re talking about, things happen, unexpectedly.
Another “ordinary” Diabetes day consists of having a stress-free day (weekends, holidays, etc.), pretty much any day that you have off from work and school, in all honesty. I have to admit, I almost enjoy having to go to school and work as it puts my Diabetes on a schedule (meals, snacks, basal rates, etc.), but I do appreciate a day off where I don’t have to constantly think of the fear of going low or high when I’m away from home.
For some reason, home is always a safe place in my mind in terms of Diabetes. When I go low or high, I would much rather experience it at home, just as a form of comfort and safety, some may disagree, but we all have our own individual preferences, and that’s okay! Any possible way to avoid stress on your mind and body will also help and benefit you and your Diabetes as stress plays a huge role on blood sugar management. Another way to feel like your Diabetes is going just great is when you have what you need and normally have with you on hand, such as your favorite low treatment solution or adhesive for your sites, allowing you to move forward with your Diabetes and own it, just the way you are used to. If some things are off and you don’t have the necessities you need, you can create a problem, which can put you in a difficult place with your Diabetes and could even cause an emergency.
To sum up, I appreciate a day where I am familiar with my Diabetes and its very unique patterns. I like having days in which I am used to and know what is going on with my health. I can trust my Diabetes and feel confident in almost knowing what to expect and when to expect it. I think that goes for every Type 1 Diabetic. We like having days in which we have little to no worry in managing our Diabetes as we feel as though we’ve got it all under control. This doesn’t mean every now and then we have perfect days, no day is perfect, Diabetic or not. I stress the fact of appreciating ordinary days and we don’t get them always, but when we do, it’s a victory to celebrate. Non-Diabetics should understand this, as we go through so much with our Diabetes daily, that some days are just horrible. Highs, lows, fears, you name it! When we do have a successful day with our T1D, we’re going to show it!
Don’t stress, the more days in which you are comfortable with and the days that allow you to appreciate life and the blessings of Diabetes, the better!
Having a chronic illness can be challenging, and running your own business can be hard. No matter where you fit on the spectrum, we could all use a little motivation. Our #InsidethePatientEntrepreneursMind blog series gives you insight and lifehacks on how to stay motivated by some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world.
Shai Rozen is the Co-Founder & CMO of Suggestic, an artificial intelligence tool to help tackle health and nutrition.
What motivated you to create a business addressing a disease you know so well?
Actually, it’s not me with the disease, it was my father who passed away from T2D-related issues.
There are a number of things that came together that motivated me and my cofounder, Victor, to start Suggestic, but one of those was born out of the realization that all this suffering my dad went through was completely preventable. Every time I think about it drives me a bit crazy.
What are some of the hurdles you perceive exist for people with your disease?
The biggest hurdle I see relates to “good” decision making. How do you navigate the myriad of options in front of you? Let’s take food, for example, we know that there are relatively good and healthy options available in most places, but most of us tend to make the “wrong” choices. So how do you filter out all the noise? This is actually the focus of our work at Suggestic. Providing contextually-relevant healthy food recommendations that fir your personal dietary needs.
Who are some of your role models in your space?
There are some amazing people working hard to tackle type 2 diabetes and chronic disease in general but I’d like to specially recognize my team at Suggestic whose passion and effort are a continuous source of inspiration.
What is your goal beyond creating a successful business?
Simple, one word: impact. Of the positive kind.
What does Lyfebulb mean to you? How can we support you better? what are some of the biggest gaps today for a “young” entrepreneur?
A supporting community of likeminded and purpose-driven entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, we constantly make assumptions about the way things work or about how people behave, so more forms of interaction between the members would be a great way to validate some of these assumptions.
How do you stay healthy and motivated to deliver?
Putting some time aside to take care of myself is key, but what truly keeps me motivated is two things: learning new things about health and seeing results when I make a change of any kind.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
It has made a tremendous difference. It’s much like taking a shortcut. You piggyback on someone else’s experience and not only learn but also it saves you from making obvious mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to make mistakes and learn from them, but I’m pretty sure there will always be more mistakes to make and if you can stand on someone else’s shoulders and start ahead that’s a big blessing.
How can we draw more attention to user-driven innovation?
It’s funny to me that this is even a question. If you are building a tool for a certain type of user what makes you think that you know better than them? Everything we do at the company should ultimately benefit its users. Which by the way it’s what is wrong, in my opinion, with so many organizations that aim to benefit shareholders and not costumers. Now, you do need to listen creatively, meaning, focus more on the problem that they are having than how they think it should be solved.
How do you maintain work/life balance?
When you are lucky to work on something that not only you are passionate about but is also purpose driven, the lines between work and “life” get blurred.
Practically speaking, we all need to learn to prioritize and draw some lines to make sure we get time to re-energize and keep going.
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
Infinite energy and more hours in the day (there’s just a lot that needs to get done.), immortality and a magic wand that allows us to really understand each other.
What is your favorite song that gets you motivated?
It’s funny but every now and then I like to listen to Steve Jobs’ 1997 ad “The Crazy Ones”, it never aired.
When you are first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, sitting there in the hospital, you don’t really know what to expect and don’t know how T1D is going to change your life. You are given your very first blood glucometer and have no idea what it is, what it may be used for, and how you are going to have to carry it around with you wherever you go. You are given a plain, boring, and lifeless case to carry the major components to checking your blood sugar in: meter, lancing device, test strips, a few syringes, alcohol swabs, and some lancets, all in a tiny little carrying case. Where’s the fun in that?
Over the years of living with T1D, I’ve come to realize how if you want to thrive with your Diabetes, you must fully take control and turn it into your own. You have to OWN your disease. I’ve noticed several amazing Diabetic brands form such incredible Diabetic bags and meter cases, designed to fit our style and relate to our own individual needs for a person living with T1D on the go. I will be listing some of my favorite Diabetic branded meter cases and bags and hopefully it will inspire you to go out and purchase your own, allowing you to fully accept your Diabetes and love the amazing life you live!
Myabetic / The Myabetic meter cases are so amazing and allow you to show off your style however you want (and most people won’t even know you are carrying Diabetic supplies!). These meter cases and Diabetic bags come in a variety of colors, designs, and styles. They have a variety of Diabetic backpacks, cases, and purses, all with different compartments for specific T1D supplies!
Shop Casualty Girl / These meter cases are so fun for a person who fully understands the true struggles with T1D as they are these nicely sized bags, simple and clean, but have a funny phrase or saying on the bag, such as, “But First, Insulin” or “Test Strip Graveyard”. Any Diabetic can relate to all the fun sayings on the bag, opening up interesting discussions at the dinner table!
Genteel / The Genteel lancing device is a great way to give your fingers a break from pricking day and night as it is an all new device that allows you to prick other parts on your body, such as your palm or leg, and allows you to get a blood drop without any pain due to their vacuuming technology! When you receive your Genteel lancing device, you automatically get a meter case with their logo on it, big enough to carry the device and more.
These are just some of the many brands that have helped us Type 1 Diabetics get creative and have something more inspiring and stylish to carry all our Diabetes supplies in daily. It can be hard to have to carry everything around all the time, from backup pump supplies, to a whole supply of low treatment options, but with the help of these carefully thought out bags and kits, we can now LIVE in style and be the amazing Diabetics we all are!
“You are not alone”. Just one thing they immediately tell you when you are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Though this is so true, when one is first diagnosed, that is not necessarily something you would want to hear. It takes time and a personal connection with T1D on a unique level to fully understand this phrase.
When I was first diagnosed at the age of 11, I was still unclear as to what my life was turning out to be. I was frustrated, scared, and confused most of all. Out of politeness and respect, everyone would tell me, “you are not alone” and how millions of others fight the same fight daily and struggle to make ends meet with their Diabetes. However, I simply did not like that saying at the time. I hadn’t fully accepted or made peace with the fact that I had this disease to deal with now for the rest of my life or until there is a cure, causing me to feel as though nobody understood what I was going through and how no one could ever relate with me. Fast forward to today, I now know that is not the case AT ALL.
Take it from an actual Type 1 Diabetic, if someone ever says the phrase “you are not alone”, believe it, because that is actual truth right there. Over the past few months, I have been given the amazing privilege of actually meeting such awesome Type 1 Diabetics in person and just the few times I’ve spent with them, I’ve realized how we really are not alone. We all go low. We all go high. We all know what it feels like to be so sick of dealing with T1D every day and it being such a big deal in our lives. We know what it feels like to wear a device on our bodies 24/7 in order to stay alive. We know what needles feel like. And we simply know what pain feels like.
The few meet-ups I’ve been to where the majority were Type 1 Diabetics, there were countless times in which I actually saw one another with the full T1D package. Pump sites, medical devices, low/high treatment solutions, you name it! We all go through it and know EXACTLY what it is like.
I can remember being surrounded by other Diabetics and going low and having others around me offer to help and ask if I was feeling okay, simply because they knew what it feels like. Something about being so real with each other and experiencing similar situations can really build up trust and loyalty with one another, creating lasting and memorable friendships. Of all the wonderful T1D’s out there, whether on Instagram, YouTube, or just about anywhere else where we can share via social media our daily struggles, I constantly see others showing what they are dealing with and seeking support from each other, which is why the Diabetic community never ceases to amaze me at how kind everyone truly is. Seeing how others are doing at different parts of the day really keeps us all in the loop together and allows for discussion and a place to vent off on our T1D. None of us know what may happen with our Diabetes at any given point in our lives, which is why, when something does happen, we can always depend on one another for the right words and support we crave.
If you are in a bad place with your Diabetes and are feeling all alone, fret no more! Surround yourself with other Diabetics and don’t be afraid to completely vent off on your feelings towards T1D, chances are, everyone else will feel the exact same way. It always helps to have someone to turn to in any situation regarding your Diabetes for a sense of understanding and care. I can guarantee you will feel so much better about your Diabetes and will be so inspired to spread awareness in ending T1D. There are thousands of other Diabetics out there, in person and online, and several Diabetic organizations that are constantly up with ways to bring us closer together, allowing us to never feel alone.
Just remember, life is a beautiful gift and though Diabetes is a factor in our lives that we never wish we had, it makes it so much easier having each other to remind us that we can do anything as long as we stick together.
WE ARE NOT ALONE. Don’t forget that.