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Do you try to avoid lows?

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Post edited to remove pictures of the facilitator after a beneficial conversation with people from Novo Nordisk. Further update in this post.


The sessions and interactions I had during the Friends for Life conference were overwhelmingly positive. As the nerd I am, I had researched all the sessions ahead of time and had my plan highlighted on a print out of the schedule that I carried around with me. Yes, I am “that girl.”

I did begin to doubt my plan as I sat with fellow DOC members in Novo Nordisk’s focus group on for “grown-ups with Type 1”.

Kim and Jess

I understand how focus groups work. There was a guy up front who was leading the session and asking questions, and there was a table of pharma reps in the back taking notes about our responses.

And that’s where it gets confusing. It seemed like the guy leading the session had no idea about living with diabetes (although I was later assured that he did).

Most of his question were regarding our insulin management. I was excluded from some of that conversation though because he didn’t want to talk about NPH, and I went from that to the pump. I did share a little bit about Humalog though (now a happy Apidra user).

first tweets in Novo session

Then he started asking us to name our A1c values, how often we were low (hence the question in my title), and other questions that either confused, angered, or frustrated the rest of the audience. The tweets were FLYING!

and then I started to get frustratedthe twitter rants grew

The last tweet above from Brian was in response to the facilitator’s statement/question – “doesn’t your blood sugar go down when you exercise?”

I think I responded in a way that would make even Ginger proud. I believe it was something like,

“Well… (deep breath)… it depends what type of exercise it is – aerobic or anaerobic. It depends on the length and the intensity of the workout. It depends on how recently you have eaten. It depends on how recently you have taken a bolus and if you have any active insulin. It depends on what type of insulin you are taking and your dosing schedule. If you are a girl, it depends on what time of the month it is… (pause to breathe)

With that explanation out of the way, he turned it into an art therapy session. And let me tell you – he was no Lee Ann Thill. We had to draw ourselves, a happy blood sugar, a low blood sugar, and a nighttime low all interacting at a party. Sound ridiculous? Jacquie has proof of her artwork on her blog.

He really focused on nighttime lows for a while. We started to get suspicious.

and annoyed

The suspicion quickly led back to more anger when he asked me when I switched from my pediatric to my adult endo. I think a DOC member tried to hold my arm back, but the switch was flipped and there was nothing that could be done.

switch flipped

Kelly K, I hope I was able to do you justice. That switch is powerful and I am more than happy to return it to your care.

Thankfully the session ended shortly thereafter.

As we were filling out our surveys, Jeff Hitchcock (founder of Children with Diabetes) walked into the room looking for me.

Did I mention that one of the pharmaceutical companies had set up a giant screen in the exhibit hall that was displaying all of our tweets with the hashtag #FFL11?! Oops!

The tweet wall got me in trouble a few times

Disclosure: I paid for all expenses (travel, food, lodging) to attend Friends for Life. While there, I attended the focus group described above. I was given a small gift card in exchange for my participation and feedback provided in the group. I was not asked to blog about the session and (obviously) all the thoughts described above are my own.


Speaking of gift cards, as much as I complained and made jokes about this session, something very good came out of it as well. The gift card I was given for my feedback was enough to purchase a small charm. That charm is attached to my medical ID and is the same charm that is attached to the medical ID of my new friend Jess. A perfect reminder that I AM NOT ALONE.



13 responses

  1. I love those ‘oh…people are paying attention to what I Tweet’ moments.

  2. If it had been me, I might have been using inappropriate words to be using at CWD, so I would say “good job!”

  3. Haha, love that you worked PMS into the conversation w/the leader!!! It’s true, sooooo many things play into our blood sugar levels, people who aren’t diabetic don’t “get it”.

    Love that they saw all your tweets, hey – it’s good to be honest!!! 🙂

  4. And then I tweeted about bedbugs. Oops.

  5. sniff! and to think i didn’t even really know you at all when we were sitting in that session! how quickly things change! and i love that we’re like 3rd graders with our matching charms. helps me remember i am not alone either.

    also, the switch was rightfully flipped! you said what we were all thinking! 🙂

  6. But really, I’d like to know whether you try to avoid lows… at night, I mean. :^)

  7. omg seriously? i think they were smart to schedule this group at the start of the conference, because the power of all you guys hanging together for a week would have surely leveled that place if you had decided to use your powers for evil. also, lol @ your tweets of annoyance going out on the multimedia wall!

  8. Oh dear! That’s right! The tweet board! I was glad that David noticed that before I went tweet happy, though I don’t think I write anything controversial, nor do I think you did. Honest feedback is constructive feedback.

  9. Wow. Just… Wow. So what is his experience with diabetes? My dog sounds better qualified to have led that session.

    I’d love to hear more about your transition from NPH to a pump. That’s what we’ll be doing hopefully soon. Elise has been on NPH since her dx almost 3 years ago and we still use it. Any useful tips?

  10. Do I avoid Lows? Um. No, of course not. Why the fructose would I do something like that?? I mean, how ridiculous to think so. I strive for Lows, for the chance to just NOT wake up in the morning. Just like I’m sure you get a rush of excitement when seeing a brick wall while driving your car and just KNOWING, KNOWING that you should drive toward it at full speed.

    …. Ahem. (Composure, de-pressuring the dimmer on my Flipped Switch.). What a tool. Hope Novo learned something, whatever it might have been. Even if it came from the giant Tweet board in the other room.

  11. Hi there Sara,

    I am glad you were able to participate in our focus group, however, I don’t believe this post provides the full picture. At the beginning of the focus group, we did set the stage about why Novo Nordisk was there and the questions we would be asking. I was in the back of the room and noticed when you arrived (about 15-20 minutes after the start). I think from your point of view, coming in when you did, it would seem odd, as you didn’t have the context of why we were there.

    The purpose of the focus group was not for the moderator to show how much he knew about diabetes, but to ask questions. Some of the questions may seem obvious, but I can assure you, every time we ask them, we get a different answer.

    I’d be more than happy to discuss with you in further detail off line or via e-mail. I’m on Twitter @ambremorley or abmo(a)

    Thanks for the opportunity to reply (and apologies for my delay… I tried to take some time off!)

    Ambre Morley
    Novo Nordisk
    Associate Director, Product Communications

  12. Ambre –

    Thank you for your reply. I assume you were notified of this post by the e-mail Jess ( sent to her contact at Novo. From that e-mail you will note that it was not just an issue I had with the session but one that was shared by the other 5-6 adults with Type 1 diabetes at my table.

    As Jess noted in her e-mail, the facilitator “left all of us with a sour taste in our mouth. He seemed to know nothing about what it’s like to live with diabetes, asking questions like, “do you try to avoid lows?” Really? He also had the nerve to ask what our a1c’s were. That is extremely private medical information that he had no right to ask us to share. I’m sorry to say that those of us in attendance left feeling a mixture of insulted and angry.”

    Shifting the blame to me for arriving “15-20 minutes late” does not seem very professional and had it been accurate (I was admittedly about 5 minutes late to the session), it would not excuse the facilitator asking questions that insult the intelligence and the effort that the people with diabetes in the room put into every minute of their 24/7 diabetes management.

    You can see from the comments that this post generated that it is an issue that all adults with diabetes take very seriously.

    If you would like to communicate with others from the room, their twitter handles are –

    I am sure that they would appreciate the follow-up as well.

  13. Pingback: About that focus group – a follow up « Moments of Wonderful

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