2012 Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum

Group Photo from the 2012 Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum

Medtronic Diabetes hosted the second ‘Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum’ at their headquarters in Northridge, CA last week.  Myself and nearly thirty others involved in diabetes social media spent about a day and a half visiting with some of the brightest minds at Medtronic.

Picture of Lane, Cherise, George, and Scott
Lane with the DSMA Live Crew

I am always encouraged by the caliber of people that are involved in making life easier and safer for people with diabetes, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that Medtronic has some of the best.  Lane Desborough continues to be the shining beacon of brilliance to me.  No pressure Lane. 🙂

We had an opportunity to meet most of Lane’s team, and there were more advanced degrees from many different disciplines than I can even understand.  I was so impressed with these guys and their resolve to design safe, easy to use, and most importantly, effective management tools.

A funny typo on the agenda had Lane WAY ahead of the game...
That was quick! The loop is closed! Hoorah! (NOTE: This is a TYPO!)

There is an area just outside of Lane’s office where they have daily stand-up meetings.  The walls are covered, floor to ceiling, with charts, principals, design goals, data, and more.  They were almost literally alive with information, but that isn’t what impressed me.  What impressed me was Lane and his team talking about certain projects, and that they knew which driving principals certain stages tied back into.  In other words, these are not just a bunch of words on a wall.  They are actually becoming reality through the work these guys are doing.

I heard the phrase “reducing on-body burden” many times, which helped me shift perspective a little bit to see exactly how burdensome all of these things can be just to wear.

Another thing that struck me was the foresight to build a “privacy” button on the MySentry device.  MySentry is a device that was born to show your CGM number to anyone who can see it.  That is great, and useful for almost all of us.

But what about those times where I’m in a funk with my diabetes?  What about those times where I need to put my head in the sand for a day in order to regain my sanity? On those days I do not want anyone else to see what my numbers are and bug me about them.  I know they’re a mess, and while it looks like I’m totally ignoring things, in reality I am taking a small step backward to gather myself again.  Hello privacy button!

Picture of Chuck's autograph in my copy of "The Book of Better"Better – Chuck Eichten!

Chuck Eichten was the guest speaker on Friday afternoon, and he was great.  Chuck has lived with type 1 diabetes for a very long time, and recently wrote a fantastic book about his outlook on life with the big D.  If you haven’t already check out “The Book of Better“, I highly recommend it.  You’ll enjoy it, and it will hopefully help bring your perspective to a place that’s a little bit better…

I had a chance to visit with Chuck a bit, and he’s a great guy.  I could chat with him for hours, and hope to have an opportunity to do so sometime.

Global Advocacy

Dr. Fran Kaufman shared an afternoon with us talking about the work she is doing around the globe.      It is eye-opening to see conditions around the world, diabetes or not.  To think that a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is a death sentence in many areas is pretty heavy.

Dr. Kaufman and her family have made unbelievable sacrifices to try and make a dent in this problem, and for that she has my everlasting gratitude.

One of the key points that I’ll forever keep close is that we need to do more than just figure out how to get supplies and insulin to people.  Without education, all the supplies in the world are useless.

Thank you Dr. Kaufman.


I always leave events like this inspired.  Sometimes that inspiration comes from the company or organization that brought us all together, but more often it comes from my friends and peers who are constantly looking for more ways to help people.

Here are a bunch of people who live well with diabetes, sometimes raise families, often hold full-time jobs, and somehow find the time and energy to dedicate their lives to helping others live better with diabetes.

The relationships that start, and build, at these events are more important than many people might realize.  Through these relationships we not only push each other by brainstorming and collaborating, but we also shine a light on personalities that don’t only exist behind a computer screen.

MySentry Trial?

In a surprise announcement, Medtronic offered to let all of us try a MySentry Remote Glucose Monitoring System for three months.  I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to respond to this, but wanted to disclose the offer and make sure everything is out in the open.  None of us knew about this offer prior to accepting the invitation to the meeting (words proudly borrowed from Kim).

I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand I’m excited, and think I’d like to give it a try.  But on the other hand, I know there are always issues and questions around ethics and honesty when given an opportunity like this.

I’m currently wearing an old Cozmo pump, which is long past it’s warranty expiration date.  So this offer means I would not only be able to try the MySentry system, but that I would need to be set up with the whole family of Medtronic products.  I’m loyal to my Cozmo, almost to a fault.  I will continue to say that any pump on the market is a step backwards from Cozmo until there is a pump that offers better features.  But does that mean I shouldn’t try this?  I don’t know.

Are there ethical concerns that you have about this?  Would you be willing to share those concerns with me? I don’t want to make any missteps that would damage the trust I’ve worked hard to build over the years.  I’m worried that the temptation to try these new gadgets is clouding my judgement on this issue.

Medtronic hasn’t asked for any favors with this, and if their products stink I would say so.  However, I’m not a reporter.  Reviews and such are not my strength.  Would I be able to cover this well enough? It may also open up an opportunity to compare the Dexcom CGM with the Medtronic CGM component (if I can tolerate all of that ‘on-body burden’).

I don’t know what to do. Please help me.


Medtronic invited me to attend this event, paid for all travel expenses, lodging, and food for the duration of the event.  We have all been invited to try the MySentry CGM system for three months (details pending).  Medtronic did not ask me to comment or write about my experiences, nor have they asked to review or limit anything I might write.


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