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Australia’s first diabetes social media summit!

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In the three years of my diabetes diagnosis, I have to admit that this was my first time participating in World Diabetes Day (WDD) celebrations. In fact it wasn’t until last year that I realised November 14th is World Diabetes Day. If every WDD celebration was like the one just passed, I have definitely been missing out!

Did you know World Diabetes Day is held annually on the 14th of November in honour of Frederick Banting’s birthday who helped discover insulin with Charles Best in 1922.

It all kick started with an invite to Australia’s first ever Diabetes Social Media Summit (OzDSMS). Safe to say, this was my first invite to a summit of any kind. Hence, as the day drew closer, my excitement grew. Amidst my excitement there was also a hint of complete and utter panic. This was beyond my comfort zone and I had no idea what to expect. Yet I was comforted by knowing that some familiar names from our weekly Diabetes Online Community (DOC) chats were going to be there. The purpose of the OzDSMS was more than just a get together for those identified as leaders in Australian diabetes social media. It was definitely a lot more than all the food pictures that flooded the #OzDSMS twitter stream the night before at the cocktail party. In case you missed out, here’s a brief recap on the amazing food we had at the D.O.C in Carlton (great venue choice by the way).

Our waiter introducing our selection of entrees.

Spelt salad served in cheese rind

Pasta cooked to perfection also served in cheese rind

Our waiter drizzling vingarette onto our fruit bread type dessert

As the famous saying goes, good food is made better with great company, which we were not short of that night.

Brent (@brentsalzmann), Helen Wild (senior counsellor at Diabetes Counselling Online) and I in between mouthfuls of food. Photo courtesy of Renza Scibilia (@RenzaS)

After the festivities and ice breaking at the cocktail night, we got straight down to work the next day bright and early. Following an inspiring talk from Kerri Sparling from sixuntilme.com (@sixuntilme) on her journey with diabetes and social media. Particularly, how the online diabetes online community has helped her throughout tough times. It then struck me how large our diabetes online community actually is. I have made friends from all over the world, thanks to our tweetchats with people from the DOC. True to what Kerri says, no matter what time it is, there will be someone online whom you can talk to (thank you time zones!). This was reflected again when Simon (@STroyCrow) told us his journey with his diabetes and how DOC gave him reason to keep living. Check out his story on twitter at #SimonPalooza and the heart warming Youtube video. Throughout the day, we had many discussions on how we can use social media to help bridge the gap between healthcare professionals and patient care. Particularly with emotional well-being of people living with diabetes. The DOC is a convenient platform to connect people living with diabetes for social support and positive emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, with emerging technology such as the iBGStar, where you have the convenient option of sending your results to your HCP, could this be the change we need to improve communications between with HCPs and our own diabetes management? We also explored the impact social media has on advocacy. A few recent great examples are the scraping of Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (which affected me personally), and more prominent now are the recent changes to driving guidelines for people with diabetes. One of the things that was discussed, which I felt very strongly about is any changes that are made within the diabetes world that may not affect you directly shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. It doesn’t matter if you have type 1 or 2 or whatever diabetes, the bottom line is that WE have diabetes and WE should come together, collectively as a COMMUNITY to help each other out. If we can keep banding together to fight some thing good in the diabetes community, this will also help ease the discrimination and stand-offs between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I have type 2 diabetes. And I challenge the stereotype of someone with type 2 diabetes. So much so that most of my type 1 friends forget that I have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is commonly lumped in together with laziness and poor lifestyle choices, and I may joke with my friends about diabetes when I’m having a good day but jokes aside, these jokes tend to hit a raw nerve when my defences are down or when I’m just having an off day. Therefore I strongly believe that the more the diabetes community works together, the more sympathetic we may be towards each other. One day I hope that people won’t care what type of diabetes you have and will be just as accepting of you into the diabetes community.

The big question emerging from all this was: what do we present this to the world at the World Diabetes Congress next year in Melbourne? It was humbling and awe-inspiring to hear everyone’s ideas and thoughts that were being thrown out. To be sitting in a room full of amazing people is one thing, seeing them all work together and a chance to be part of this team is MIND BLOWING! At the end of the day, my key take home message was how powerful our DOC is and that it certainly is not a fad!

The team at Australia’s first Diabetes Social Media Summit! Find out more by checking out these hashtags on twitter #OzDSMS #OzDOC #DOC Photo courtesy of Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme)

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Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

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