Changing the World? One Connection at a Time – dBlog Week



Our assignment for day one of the fifth annual (!!) #DBlogWeek is to talk about diabetes causes and issues that get us really fired up.

I’m not a fired up kind of guy.

The slow and steady march of making connections, introducing people who need to know each other, and shining a light on people and stories that resonate with me, that’s more my style.

Sometimes those little connections make all the difference in the world.


In 2011 I received a message from Masereka Robert in Uganda. He was 26 years old at the time and lives with type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed at 5 years old. He volunteers his time to start a diabetes association to help educate people with diabetes in a remote area near the slopes of Mount Rwenzori in the Kasese district of Uganda.

He explained that he started the association to help people who can’t afford to buy insulin or provide transport to the nearest hospitals. He found my blog and wanted to reach out to make a connection.

He and I stayed in touch via email, sending a message every few weeks or so. He told me about how he reaches out to many people asking for help, spends time educating the parents of these children, and generally doing everything he can to help.


March of 2013, DSMA Live hosted Dr. Jason Baker and Sandy Narayanan of Marjorie’s Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to empowering people with diabetes in resource poor locations.

During the show Dr. Baker mentioned Uganda, and a connection happened in my head. Not long after the show, I sent Dr. Baker a message about Masereka Robert, explaining his work in the area and our email conversations.

I think we will be able to help him…

Thanks for the Connection, Scott

Uganda children with type 1 diabetes holding up a sign "thanks for the connection, Scott"

Kabugho Jovia, Kabugho Peace, Muhindo Innocent, Muhindo Dan, Kimbesa Simon

Sometimes it takes my breath away what these little connections can mean for people.

This would not be possible without incredible groups like Insulin for Life and Marjories Fund. Thank you, both, for the amazing work you do.

If you would like to help, please consider contacting both organizations above to find out what is needed. Masereka Robert is also in need of a laptop to use for continued outreach. I don’t know what is involved in sending a laptop to Uganda, but if you would like to connect with him, please let me know.

Diabetes and Wellbeing by Dr. Jen Nash

Diabetes and Wellbeing by Dr. Jen NashI recently finished reading “Diabetes and Wellbeing” by Dr. Jen Nash, and I really enjoyed it.

Subtitled “Managing the psychological and emotional challenges of diabetes types 1 and 2” Dr. Nash set out to help us find some good ways to deal with the challenges we face dealing with the daily demands of diabetes.

Dr. Nash is a Clinical Psychologist near London, is the founder and director of and has lived with type 1 diabetes since she was six years old. She says she went into psychology to figure herself out, but I think it’s something she’s just naturally good and we all got lucky that she found her calling right away. :-)

Diabetes and Wellbeing covers a really wide range of focus areas. Take a look at some of the areas Dr. Nash covers:

  • Dealing with diagnosis
  • Depression, low mood and burnout
  • Fear, anxiety and worry
  • Food, weight and emotions
  • Relationships
  • Implementing change
  • Managing setbacks

There were many areas that really hit home for me, and many sections of the book where it seemed Dr. Nash could see exactly what was inside my head and already knew many of the things I struggle with. I found myself dog earing page after page, often even scribbling notes in the page margins.

So many pages dog eared!

So many pages dog eared!

One of the biggest takeaways from Diabetes and Wellbeing was a sense of normalcy to struggle with so many of these things. And to have a permission, of sorts, to explore these areas of diabetes that are not talked about enough.

It gave me some tools and resources to explore these areas in my own head, which is something I’m often simply afraid to do, and it also helped equip me to have difficult conversations with my healthcare providers if necessary.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Diabetes

This book takes an explicit Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach to making changes, and that was an approach that was agreed upon between Dr. Nash & her publishers before starting the book. Dr. Nash said that it’s just one of many different approaches that she uses to help people, but you should know before starting that you’ll find only the CBT approach here.

The NHS website does a good job of explaining what CBT is if you are curious to learn more. I know that both Dr. Nash and the resource I offer here for CBT information are both from London, but that’s just a neat coincidence. This type of therapy is used widely around the world.

That’s actually a great transition into something else I’d like to mention. Dr. Nash is from London, so there will be a few “UK’isms” that may catch you off guard. That typically means an extra “u” somewhere (colour vs. color, or behaviour vs behavior, for example), but you might notice other things that don’t quite fit. Wasn’t a big deal for me, but I’d be interested to know if you find other things that just don’t seem right to you as a reader from a different local. I’m sure Dr. Nash would love to know as well.


Dr. Nash closes Diabetes and Wellbeing with a list of resources, where I was pleasantly surprised to be listed, along with many other greats, as a motivational and support resource. Thank you, Dr. Nash! Very cool! :-)

Discount Code! Dr. Nash has graciously offered a 20% discount code that you can use to order Diabetes and Wellbeing if you’re interested. Visit and use code NASH1 when checking out.

Diabetes Hope Conference

I’m also thrilled to share that Dr. Nash is joining us as a panelist for the 2014 Diabetes Hope Conference! Shortly after reading her book and connecting with her via Skype to chat, I asked her to get involved. She will bring an awesome perspective to our panel about the patient/doctor relationship, and I’m very excited to watch it! I hope you can tune in, too.

To learn more and register for your free (virtual) seat, please go to

Disclosure: Dr. Nash sent me a free copy of Diabetes and Wellbeing, but did not ask me to write about it. I really enjoyed it, found it helpful, and wanted to share it with all of you.

Diabetes, Complications, and Hope – Let’s Talk About It


Announcing the 2nd Annual Diabetes Hope Conference!

I’m very happy to announce the return of the Diabetes Hope Conference!

We have another amazing lineup of panelists (some returning, some new), with what we hope (no pun intended) are topics that you feel are worth participating in.

Dr. John E. Anderson - Headshot

Dr. John Anderson

This year we have a very special opportunity to present questions from the community to Dr. John Anderson, Immediate Past President, Medicine & Science of the American Diabetes Association.

I hope you’ll submit your questions, and invite your friends (and readers) to do the same. This should be a really fun session, with questions being presented by Christel and Karen.

In addition to Dr. Anderson’s participation, we’ll be exploring the value of blogging in chronic illness with Pamela (co-author of groundbreaking research on chronic pain/illness and blogging), Kerri, and Mike, and discussing patient/doctor relationships with Dr. Jen and George.

We’re also very excited to add the ability to tune in with your mobile device (smartphone or tablet), and thank our sponsor, Metanx, for that additional capability.

The first year really seemed to resonate with people, and sparked some really great conversations, both during the event, and long afterward.

We hope this year is twice as good.

The Diabetes Hope Conference is happening on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, from Noon – 3:00 pm Eastern Time (USA). Registration is completely free, and you can tune in from anywhere.

If you’re in the sharing mood, I’d love your help in spreading the word. We’re using #dHopeConf as the hashtag on Twitter, and have some simple graphics you can download and use if you’d like.

Want to know how this all got started? Check out the backstory.

Disclosure: I have an existing business relationship with Pamlab (Metanx), sponsors of the 2013 & 2014 Diabetes Hope Conference.


This is Doug

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Douglas Scalia, official badass, five times over

This is my friend Doug. He’s pretty cool. He has type 1 diabetes, just like me. :-)

He decided he was going to run a marathon. In February of 2011, he couldn’t run 0.25 miles, and in October of 2011 he completed the Twin Cities Marathon.

He’s done four more since then.

Doug (and a handful of others) spoke at a local JDRF Adults with Type One group tonight about exercising with diabetes, and it was really great.

But my favorite part of the whole evening was looking over to see Doug wearing all five of his marathon medals.

Best Intentions and Toaster Strudels

Please don’t judge me for getting excited about finding toaster strudels in the freezer this morning.

I did everything right. I tested my blood sugar, I counted the carbs, I even set a mental timer for when I could actually eat (doing the pre-bolus thing).

Forgotten Bolus

But as my morning escaped into afternoon, and I started feeling worse and worse, a quick review of my bolus history was missing the most important part of my plan.

For all of the planning, counting, calculating, and waiting (it was more than 20 minutes, yo)… a TON of work, all in my head, and I forgot to actually take the bolus.

I thought I was being SO good. I was SO disciplined to have delicious frosted toaster strudels chilling (literally) on a plate right in front of me for so long, waiting for the insulin I hadn’t even taken to start working.

Snatch & Diabetes

This being one of my favorite movies has led to some really interesting discussions…


I wish the world could have seen how big my grin was when I found this Tweet & Twitter Account.

“Finger-pricking, pig-feeding diabetic South London gangster.”

You, sir, made my day. Thank you. :-)

Scott in Live Interview with – Thursday, March 20, 4pm EST

I’m super excited to be joining the awesome Emily Coles at for a live interview on Thursday,  March 20, 2014 at 4pm EST/3pm CST/1pm PST.

TuDiabetes Live Interview with Scott Johnson

I have a TON of things I can talk about, but I’d love for YOU to tell me what you’d like to hear about. Tune in and share your questions live during the interview. Take the discussion wherever you’d like it to go.

To watch and participate, just head to the homepage at the start time and click play. There are detailed instructions if you need them (refresh your browser, click play on the video player, etc).

I look forward to chatting with you!

Diabetes Scholars – Polynesian Style!

I’m happy to spread the word about the Diabetes Scholars annual fundraiser at Friends for Life this July. This year sounds amazing!

DSF-FFL-Dinner-MusicMary Podjasek, tireless champion and President/Executive Director, Diabetes Scholars Foundation, describes the evening:

Your Polynesian experience begins with the rhythmic drums of Tahiti as you are taken on an enchanting and unforgettable journey through the islands of Polynesia. Please join the Diabetes Scholars Foundation at our “Party Polynesian Style Fundraiser” on Saturday, July 5, 2014, at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida (during the Friends for Life conference)

This event will include an interactive Polynesian dance show, dessert, drinks, and a silent/live auction. Funds raised from this event will directly support our conference scholarships and help us carry out our mission to improve the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes through education.

These events are always incredible, and I’m always blown away by the generosity displayed by everyone there, as well as those who have donated items for the auction and those who have helped spread the word.

It’s worth going just to hear Tom Karlya run the live auction! Check out this video from the 2012 event:

The Diabetes Scholars Foundation helps bring people in need to conferences, and also gets students with type 1 diabetes to college. Improving lives through education indeed.

If you’ll be at Friends for Life this year this is an event to be at. Tickets are $50, which helps support DSF’s mission and includes dessert and two drink vouchers.

If you are in a position to do more, there are some great sponsorship opportunities as well:

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You can learn more about the Diabetes Scholars Foundation and their mission, read testimonials, see a list of college recipients, and apply for conference scholarships at

And if you have something awesome to donate (including money), don’t be shy! Let Mary know!

My past posts about DSF include Lilly Diabetes – Connecting the Dots, Diabetes Scholars – Generosity In Action, Diabetes Scholars – Howl at the Moon, I Support: Diabetes Scholars Foundation, and 2011 Friends for Life – Where to Start?