Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Big Blue Test for World Diabetes Day

This year, for World Diabetes Day, I am piggy backing on someone else's idea and taking part in the Big Blue Test.


Because it's simple, it's easy, it doesn't cost me anything to participate, and it's giving to those who don't have access to insulin. Hell, it's just a good idea and I'm hoping that some of you will think so too and join me?

What is the Big Blue Test BBT?

The Big Blue Test is a diabetes awareness initiative that was started 7 years ago by an American non-profit organisation, called the Diabetes Hands Foundation (amazing organization worthy of another post). The BBT is about how one small change can have a huge impact on your health; if you have diabetes or not.

And every BBT logged raises money for those with diabetes who are less fortunate than us.

Results gathered over the lifetime of the program demonstrate that just 14 minutes of exercise has the potential to decrease participants’ blood glucose levels, in some instances as much as 20% (Type 1's should pack a Snickers;-D).
Not only is The Big Blue Test encouraging people who don't have diabetes to exercise and creating awareness about diabetes, but it's creating awareness in our own community about how effective even a little bit of exercise is as a diabetes management tool.

And, by participating in the Big Blue Test, we get to help people living with diabetes who are in need with grants for life-saving diabetes supplies, treatments and patient education, usually in developing countries.

How do I take the test?

Taking the Big Blue Test is easy:

  1. If you have diabetes you test their blood sugar, if you don't have diabetes, don't check your blood sugar.
  2. You exercise for at least 14-20 minutes.
  3. You test again (if you have diabetes), and
  4. You share their experience on or through the app for iPhone or Android.

Log in, take the test. Do a little good today for yourself – and someone else.

From Diabetes Mine

Thursday, 22 October 2015

What happens after MasterLab Advocacy Conference?

And thank you to Christelle Aprigliano from MyPerfectD, who inspired me to write this post in gratitude for being chosen as a scholarship winner to attend MasterLab last July.

The timing of which is significant because we just had our very first Thriveabetes conference in Ireland.

Before I go into what happened after MasterLab, let me first explain where I was before I attended.

I had an idea, that we, in Ireland, were entitled to experience the type of conference that people with diabetes in the UK and the US we're enjoying. A peer support conference. Turns out some other people had that same idea too. So, we came up with a plan, raised some money and were busy executing that plan to make Thriveabetes happen. And everything was going to plan.

However, until MasterLab I was wandering around aimlessly on the diabetes advocacy path. I really didn't know what I was doing or how to verbalise what I wanted to do.

On the very first morning of ML, we did the all-important ice breaker and introductions. I took a deep breath and tried to figure out why I was there in my head before it was my turn.

I introduced myself with "Hello, I'm Grainne, I'm from....", followed by my volunteer bit and then, added that really, the main reason I was there was to learn if I could organise Thriveabetes better. The response I got was that I should lead with the bit I ended with:-S Lesson #1 learned.

From that moment on, I was one of the organisers of Thriveabetes and I realised that every moment since 2007, when I helped set up our local diabetes support group, was leading up to this.

Every time I introduced myself I did it a little bit better and with more confidence. Without meaning to, I networked! But for me, it was an opportunity to meet the most interesting people and hear their diabetes stories; networking never seemed so easy! I had more Facebook friend requests in that week, than I had since I set up my Facebook profile.

At ML, I realised that I had found a path I wanted to travel, that I had been on that path; rambling unintentionally, for a long time. I found focus and I found my purpose.

Little did I know that in 2007 when I was at my lowest. I had been struggling to find decent diabetes healthcare for 18 months and I had just had a clinic visit where I sat in a Digital Chair Weighing Scales, used in nursing homes, retirement homes and rehabilitation centres.

I was desperate to find decent health care and I was desperate to find other people with type 1 diabetes to share with. That's when I set about starting our support group.

At the Thriveabetes Conference, we found that sense of community, of strength. We have found a way to connect with each other and a way to help each other.

Today, we are planning Thriveabetes 2016!


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Would you like to volunteer abroad and help people with diabetes?

I came across this group at a diabetes conference and not only do they have an interesting story but they also offer people with diabetes an interesting opportunity to volunteer abroad with people with diabetes.

I've checked with the organisation and they have said that you do not need to be living in the US to volunteer and in the past people from Ireland have volunteered with them. :-)

They are called AYUDA; American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad. The organisation was created in 1996, by two teenagers, Nick Cuttriss and his friend Jesse Fuchs-Simon. They were 14, when they met José Gabriel, an eight year old boy who lived in Quito, Ecuador.

José Gabriel, was six-months-old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1984. Eight years later, despite spending most of the family's income on his diabetes supplies, José's parents saw his health decline again. In an effort to understand what had gone wrong, José's family raised money for him to travel to see a diabetes specialist.

They discovered José and his parents had never received guidance regarding the management of the boy's condition and that José's blood sugar levels were not being managed correctly. For José and his parents, and for many other young people with diabetes, particularly in developing countries, the lack of diabetes education is as dangerous as a lack of insulin.

Nick and Jesse envisioned a youth-led organization that would educate young people with diabetes about diabetes issues, and help empower them to work effectively for positive change.

AYUDA's initial objective was to help with the need for basic diabetes education in Ecuador.Volunteers set up diabetes support groups in the corridors of a public hospital in Quito. These groups offered educational workshops and provided a forum for knowledge sharing. 

Since 1996, they have also recognised that the cost of diabetes supplies was making it impossible for many children in developing countries to manage their condition optimally and so they set about creating and managing diabetes supply banks. It costs approximately 3000 USD per year to care for a child with diabetes; the average income for a family of four in many Latin American countries is less than 1000 USD per year.

With the help of partners such as Insulin for Life, AYUDA works to ensure that families with limited resources receive essential daily supplies, such as insulin, syringes, and test strips at subsidized prices or free of charge. 

For more information on AYUDA and volunteering opportunities, visit the website at or email They are now accepting applications for their 2016 projects in the Dominican Republic.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Diabetes Mother need support not hate!

I've just written a letter to the Editor of the Irish Times in response to the public reaction to the article linked below. I can't stop thinking about this woman and here's why;


I read "Diabetic girl must be given insulin despite mother’s stance" (2nd October) late last night and I thought about this woman going to bed. I awakened early and she was the first thought that entered my head.

Isn't it conceivable that this woman is so desperate, so exhausted and so depleted of hope that there could be any positive outcome from a type 1 diabetes diagnosis that it has rendered her paralyzed to help herself or her daughter?  Isn't it conceivable that while she "knew very well the importance of insulin" her personal experiences have coloured her view of insulin to the point of apparent ignorance?

Maybe we should see this woman as somebody who needs support and is every bit as much of a patient affected by type 1 diabetes as her daughter is.  Studies have shown that the more supported and informed a mother feels the better the outcomes of the child with type 1 diabetes. It seems to me that this woman is in desperate need of support - peer, emotional, and psychological.

I'm asking the Irish type 1 diabetes community to do what I know you do best. I'm asking you to reach out to a fellow parent at their time of diagnosis. Do you remember what you needed at that time? Can we offer that help to her?

Lets offer her shoulders to cry on, offer to stand with her shoulder to shoulder, holding her up and guiding towards hope for a better future for her daughter. Let's share our diabetes stories with her and show her it's possible.  Lets share our challenges and triumphs of living with type 1 diabetes.  Let's tell her that we know living with type 1 diabetes is difficult and sometimes unbearable but that it's not always like that.

Lets not shame her because we ALL know that shaming and blaming does NOT accomplish anything, especially in life with type 1 diabetes.

Gráinne Flynn"

Friday, 2 October 2015

I'm M.I.A.

Not really! But you can find me over here at Thrive-abetes.