There’s a new diabetes website in town!

Diabetes Strong is a new health and fitness website for people living with diabetes. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for information and advice on everything from exercise and nutrition to the latest diabetes products and tech.

Diabetes Strong was originally created as TheFitBlog in 2015 and is the passion project of Christel Oerum, a fitness professional with type 1 diabetes. It started as a venue for Christel to describe her experience as an active woman living with type 1 diabetes, and share how she manages insulin, food, and exercise.

The website quickly grew into one of the most popular diabetes websites with over 100,000 monthly visitors and was just re-launched as, an online diabetes magazine with a team of expert contributors.

The mission and design of the website are centered around Christel’s belief that there is nothing you can’t do with diabetes if you have the right knowledge, tools, and mindset. The articles on the site all have a positive “how-to” approach to diabetes and focus on solutions to some of the most common issues faced by people living with diabetes (like how to lose weight when you live with diabetes or how to prevent low blood sugar when exercising).

You can also download Christel’s healthy meal plans or browse the libraries of healthy recipes and workout videos.

All of the information on the website is free to access so you can spend as long as you like reading through the hundreds of diabetes articles.

Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition – hurricane support efforts

Coming together to help those in need

Spreading the word about important and reliable hurricane support efforts. Please help get the word out.

Diabetes Coalition Continues to Support Southeast Texas with Critical Diabetes Supplies and Ready to Respond to Hurricane Irma’s Impact in Puerto Rico and Florida

1-800-DIABETES continues extended hours, and new call center activated for physicians and
health care providers to request supplies

ARLINGTON, Va. (September 8, 2017) – Convened by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a coalition of seven leading diabetes care and research organizations have formed a strong Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition (DERC) to help provide critical diabetes supplies to regions impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Nearly 4,000 pounds of diabetes supplies have been shipped to the southeast Texas region impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and the DERC continues to collaborate to ensure supplies are in place to provide care to those living in shelters or at local health department clinics. In preparation for Hurricane Irma, contacts have already been made in Puerto Rico and Florida, and support in Georgia and South Carolina is in process.

ADA’s Center for Information, 1-800-DIABETES, continues with extended phone hours through the end of next week to assist anyone in need:

  • 8:30 a.m. ET (7:30 a.m. CT) to 10:00 p.m. ET (9:00 p.m. CT), Monday through Friday, through Friday, September 15; and
  • 10:00 a.m. ET (9:00 a.m. CT) to 4:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. CT) on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10.

Given the expanding needs of Hurricane Irma and the continuing needs of the Southeast Texas region, the Coalition has activated a new call center for physicians and health care providers to request diabetes supplies: 1-314-INSULIN. The supply request line will be open and staffed daily by members of the DERC beginning Friday, September 8, from 9:00 a.m. ET to 6:00 p.m. ET.

Please check for the latest information.

Information and resources include specific support in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, in addition to these:

During an emergency crisis such as this, it is critical for people with diabetes to have access to the medications and testing supplies needed to maintain proper blood glucose control, and to prevent serious sudden complications such as hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia1. Visit for the latest information.

The Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition, convened by the American Diabetes Association, includes JDRF, Insulin for Life USA, Endocrine Society, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Association of Diabetes Educators and Research America. For more information about the Coalition, click here.


1 W Cefalu et. al. The Hurricane Katrina Aftermath and Its Impact on Diabetes Care. Diabetes Care 29:1, 158-160.

The power of me too and “There’s More to the Story” by Mindy Bartleson

I’ve asked Mindy to share more about her upcoming book. With great pleasure, here she is with some of her story and more details about how you can connect with her. Thank you, Mindy, you’re wonderful!

I’ve greatly benefitted from the power of me too when it comes to diabetes. When other things popped up in my life, I wasn’t able to (and sometimes wasn’t ready) to apply this beneficial power.

When my dad passed away when I was 12, I didn’t know a lot of people who understood what it was like until I got older and found more people. I also wouldn’t talk about. I had to be strong.

When I was struggling with mental health, I not only kept these feelings to myself until I was in college, I flat out denied them to myself.

I grew up having issues with my period, but I didn’t talk about them because I grew up with the notion that you kept that to yourself.

One thing that changed how I looked at these things? Being honest and open about them. In college, I changed how I looked at all of these things- including diabetes and life.

After diabetes burnout in college, I started posting more about the good and the bad of diabetes and mental health, but of course other things- of course- life.

When I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis, I posted about it online.

That’s when I started hearing or seeing the me too’s. The relief of knowing I’m not alone made a huge difference in my life.

Over the years, I’ve adjusted my blog.. I wanted to talk about everything in my life- the type 1 diabetes, PCOS, endometriosis, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, (other diagnoses), loss, and more- because like the title of my blog says- “There’s More to the Story”. I wanted to talk about it honestly- the good and the bad. It’s hard to imagine that I never even wanted to write a blog- but here I am now!

About two years ago, I realized that I was applying rose-colored glasses to a lot of things in my life already at the age of 22. I was starting to say that all the bad things were worth it or completely ignoring them. I firmly believe that yes I can do it. That I (and others) can get through things. But I want to acknowledge that it can suck. That’s what life is. It’s what I needed to do.

Between the decision to be honest about the positive and the negative and realizing that rose-colored glasses were starting to impact how I looked at things. I decided to write a book about chronic illness and mental health. I’m aiming to balance the positive and the negative together on growing up in general but also with chronic illness and mental health along for the ride.

I’m pursuing self-publishing, and I’m utilizing crowdfunding to make this happen.

Mindy is self-publishing an honest book about growing up with chronic illness and mental health. She wrote the content before rose colored glasses impacted her experiences too much. To help this book get published, you can visit the crowdfunding page to learn more, back her project, and help spread the word. You can also follow Mindy on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her blog “There’s More to the Story”.

Teens with Diabetes – Free Driving Clinic

Heads up, Twin Cities! is putting on another free driving clinic for teens with diabetes (August 4th, 2017 at Dakota County Technical College)! But you’ll have to hurry up and register! There are only a couple of openings left for this year’s session. 

Group picture from last year

My son just started driving (he doesn’t have diabetes). It’s an awesome accomplishment and an equally awesome responsibility. I’m so proud of him. And like any parent with a new driver in the family, I’m nervous anytime he leaves. My wife and I (and his grandfather – thanks, dad!) did everything we could to prepare him. It was a lot of time, work, and money. And all totally worth it. However, I recognize that if my son also had to think about diabetes and driving, there was nothing in all of the classes, instruction, or behind the wheel that would have helped him. 

That’s where Juvenile Diabetes No Limits Foundation comes in. Tom at JDNL has been organizing the free Check B4U Drive sessions for years. They are the only place I know where the focus is on learning how to drive safely with diabetes. And they do it for free, which is amazing. Thank you, Tom, JDNL, and sponsors!

Classroom time with law enforcement

Braking exercise

Low blood sugar simulation (the goggles)

There are more cool pictures on their website. One great shot is of a fire truck spraying their fire hose all over the pavement in preparation for one of the exercises to simulate driving on wet roads. 

I love that this is available. Big thanks to JDNL for organizing it every year. They’re also planning one near Chicago in September. As I mentioned earlier, there are only a few spots left for August 4th in the Twin Cities, so register now if you’re interested!

You can also reach out to [email protected] with questions or call 952-886-0152.

If you attend, please let us know how it goes!

The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe

A kidnap-and-ransom thriller – with diabetes!

Lucas Davenport, Mitch Rapp, and Jack Reacher are a few book characters I enjoy sharing time with. I recently added Thea Paris to that list.

She is one of 25 elite response consultants who travel undercover to the deadliest situations in the world to recover hostages by any means necessary. And diabetes doesn’t slow her down.

Howe’s book is a thriller that kept me up all night. I finished it in a single sitting and enjoyed every moment. I can’t wait for the next installment.

After reading The Freedom Broker, I had an opportunity to ask K.J. a few questions:

Scott – My blog is about living with diabetes and therefore draws readers touched by diabetes. We’re all too familiar with characters with diabetes portrayed in mainstream media inaccurately, but I was pleased to find this wasn’t the case with Thea. Where does your familiarity with diabetes come from (dare I assume you have a personal connection)?

K.J. – I’m very pleased to hear that you felt Thea’s diabetes was accurately portrayed. My grandfather had diabetes, and I can remember as a child him explaining why he was giving himself needles, and he showed us how he learned to inject himself using an orange. The experience made an indelible impression on me, and I yearned to write about it. I’m also a former medical writer, and I created many articles about diabetes for patient education newsletters, booklets, calendars, etc.

For me, it’s critical to get it right. Research is a real passion. I also had the incredible help of two amazing ladies: Bethanne Strasser, a mother and long distance runner with type 1 who is also an author (, and Laura Rogers, a brilliant woman with type 1 who spent a year traveling the world (, shipping medicine and supplies to herself along the way. These two spectacular ladies were beyond helpful with insights into what Thea’s life would be like.

Scott – I was also pleased to find just the right amount of diabetes peppered throughout the book. It felt like an interesting touch to an already interesting character, but not so much that it might be a turn-off. Was that balance difficult to find? How did you decide how much to include or leave out?

K.J. – Great question. I definitely edited the diabetes information, tried to weave it in with a light touch. When I originally wrote the story, I included details where they fit organically, then I came back to it later, tried to ask myself what was needed and what might be extraneous. My editor was also quite helpful with feedback on that front, coming at it from a fresh perspective. Diabetes is a huge part of Thea’s life, and she takes it very seriously, but she’s also a healthy, fit woman in her 30s who doesn’t want to let anything hold her back from her calling, which is helping hostages across the globe return home.

I have the deepest respect for how people with diabetes balance their medical condition with their hopes, dreams, and fitness/career goals, and I wanted to demonstrate that while managing her diabetes is always in the forefront of Thea’s mind, she doesn’t let it interfere with her demanding and active lifestyle. I think the key message is that people are more than their illness, and with the right commitment and drive, spectacular things are not just possible, but probable.

Scott – There were some nice seeds for the future planted, such as Rif’s discovery in Nikos’ safe and the team at Quantum pulling together at the end to openly support Thea’s diabetes. What can you tell us about Thea’s next adventure?

K.J. – Thanks for asking about those seeds, as I’m working on the final chapters of book two in the Thea Paris series, which is called SKYJACK, and it will be released in February 2018. Thea is shepherding two young African orphans to their new home in London when the plane they are on is hijacked and the action kicks off from there. The story includes secret stay-behind armies from WWII, the CIA, the Vatican…and I can promise you’ll learn a great deal about plane travel. And from a character point-of-view, Thea is still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in THE FREEDOM BROKER, coming to terms with her family issues.

K.J. also adds, “Anyone interested in reading the first chapter of THE FREEDOM BROKER can visit I’ll be sending out newsletter updates, and people are most welcome to sign up via my website as well. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. Really appreciate your insightful questions.”

Thank you, K.J.!

I really enjoyed reading this book, and the next one sounds great, too. I’m already looking forward to it! If you might enjoy it, you can grab a copy from a bunch of different places:


Visiting Team Novo Nordisk

Heroes for people with diabetes

Just before the holidays, I attended Team Novo Nordisk’s (TNN) media day at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, GA. (Disclosure: Team Novo Nordisk paid for my travel, lodging, and some meals)

I got a close look at the scale of Team Novo Nordisk’s vision, mission, and even got to ride alongside some of the athletes (I had to ride in a car to keep up). It was impressive, inspiring, and educational.

Large group of Team Novo Nordisk pro cyclists

Some of Team Novo Nordisk’s Pro Team – ©Jordan Haggard

Team Novo Nordisk has nearly 100 athletes with diabetes from 21 countries spanning a number of sports (cyclists, triathletes, and runners) in a few phases of athletic development. One remarkable point in the story of many of these athletes is the story of being told “no.”

Twelve out of eighteen of the pro riders were told they’d never race again because of diabetes. Imagine receiving that crushing news along with the diagnosis? Racing was everything for these guys! And with a single sentence, their dreams were smashed. Thank goodness they didn’t give up so easily. And now, thanks to TNN, they are shining examples of what can be done with diabetes.

Some of Team Novo Nordisk on a panel ready to share information and answer questions

Panel presentation / Q&A with Phil Southerland, Dr. Mark Greve, Stephen Clancy, Fabio Calabria, Quentin Valognes, and Sam Brand – ©Jordan Haggard

The mission of Team Novo Nordisk is to inspire, educate, and empower people affected by diabetes. They’re attacking this mission on many fronts and changing diabetes for the better in a lot of ways.

Some ways are really big, such as being the first all-diabetes professional team in any sport worldwide (that’s something often overlooked, but this great interview with Phil Southerland in diaTribe points out). And some ways aren’t immediately noticeable, like an aspiring athlete being told, “no” only to find TNN proving a resounding “yes!”

Phil Southerland and Martin Nordmark talking about TNN

Martin Nordmark, Sr. Global Project Manager, Novo Nordisk, sharing his experiences with the team – ©Jordan Haggard

Panel of Team Novo Nordisk cyclists with Quentin speaking into a microphone

Quentin Valognes telling his story – ©Jordan Haggard

One of the things I most admire about Team Novo Nordisk is they continue to go above and beyond. What do I mean by that? I’m not a professional athlete, but I can imagine it’s already immensely challenging to compete at this level. But that’s not all they do. In 2016, Team Novo Nordisk published/shared more than 1,800 articles and participated in more than 365 diabetes related community events around the world to help set the record straight about diabetes. Nearly everywhere they go, they take time out of their grueling athletic schedule (and travel schedule!) to talk with the community and spread information.

A selfie with Scott Johnson and Quentin Valognes

I chatted with Quentin Valognes during one of the breaks.

Team Novo Nordisk is doing a lot of work on language and stigma in diabetes, and one of the stories I remember most fondly was told at a community event last June in New Orleans. It’s a very real example that sticks in my head as one that makes a big difference in how we are perceived.

The story is that one year, the famous television cycling commentators spoke of a TNN cyclist as suffering from diabetes (that’s one of my big pet peeves – “suffering“). After long efforts of patient and persistent relationship building, Team Novo Nordisk was able to teach the commentators more about diabetes – they were able to set the record straight. The next time the commentators talked about a rider with diabetes, the language was different. Suffering was gone, and instead, that rider lived with type 1 diabetes.

Scott and Oliver facing each other talking

Talking with Oliver Behringer during one of the breaks – ©Jordan Haggard

These may sound like little things, but I tell you, they make a difference to people who don’t know anything about diabetes. Just think about the difference between “living with” and “suffer.” There’s a huge difference there, right? There is to me, and I know which one I prefer.

Oliver Behringer doing a wheelie for the camera

Oliver Behringer playing/posing for pics – ©Jordan Haggard

The guys riding up to pose for a group picture – ©Jordan Haggard

Team Novo Nordisk and guests at Stone Mountain Atlanta – ©Jordan Haggard

The commitment to Team Novo Nordisk’s mission is remarkable and was something my friend Brian mentioned a number of times as we took in all of the information over the day.

And they’re always looking for more athletes – Phil even made a special call-out for more U.S. talent!

Click above to learn more about joining Team Novo Nordisk

The Diabetes UnConference – February 2017

See you in Vegas, baby!

Group photo - The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

Register Now

Don’t miss it – register now – the deadline is January 24th!

From the official website:

What is it?

At The Diabetes UnConference, every participant is an expert. All attendees can ask and answer questions and learn from their peers in a safe setting where there is no judgment or wrong answer. Topics may include: diabetes burnout, depression, sex, discrimination, financial issues, getting inspired to exercise, family, or even what the best treatment for hypoglycemia is for each person.

Who’s it for?

This conference welcomes all adults with diabetes. The Diabetes UnConference is the only multi-day conference that welcomes all male and female adults with diabetes to share their thoughts and feelings. (and PLUs – more info…)

What to expect?

As the agenda is created by the attendees leading up to the conference, so expect the unexpected! That being said, expect that you’ll be surrounded by those who understand how you feel about living with diabetes (or a loved one with diabetes). Expect to feel safe and not judged for expressing your feelings and thoughts. Expect to meet people who will become confidants and friends. Expect to not feel alone. Expect to leave with new knowledge and ideas for living a healthy life with diabetes. And of course, expect to have fun.

The Diabetes UnConference

As you can see, it’s not your typical conference.

Why is it important?

I believe that your story matters. You bring an important perspective and experience to life with diabetes. Your voice may be exactly what someone needs to hear. Likewise, exposing yourself to the voices and stories of others with diabetes might trigger something big for you.

The Diabetes UnConference is a powerful place for such things. I participated for the first time in 2015 and can’t stop thinking about the quick bonds that were made, the safe environment to share (or just listen), and the walls of diabetes isolation crumbling apart around us.

You could talk about your fears, your joys, shed your tears, or burst out laughing …

Men being men

The men’s discussion group from the first Diabetes UnConference is one of my most treasured memories. We had a very real and safe (what happens there stays there) bunch of discussions with other guys living with diabetes. I didn’t know what to expect… there was a big chance that there’d be too much bravado in the room for meaningful conversation. All it takes is one guy puffing his chest to make the rest unwilling to open up.

But what happened was very special. One by one, guys started talking about stuff they needed to share and asking questions they needed to ask. Not one bit of snark or sarcasm or even looking at each other funny. Just a protective circle of understanding and open ears.

Make this your year

If you’ve attended in the past, thank you. You’ve improved my life and helped me see diabetes with more perspective than before. If you’ve not yet attended, maybe this is the one you decide to join? Everyone is welcome and I’d love to meet you. Register now (deadline is January 24th)

Register Now

Here are a few posts from others who’ve attended in the past:

Diabetes UnConference Hits the Atlantic City Boardwalk
The Diabetes UnConference: The power of peer support
My Take On The Diabetes UnConference
Joe from Germany Comest to the Diabetes UnConference
My UnConference Experience
And more…

Disclosure: I am not compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. for my time or energy working The Diabetes UnConference events, nor do I earn anything for registrations. My travel, lodging, and some meals are paid for, but I am not otherwise compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. I enjoy these events and it’s an honor to represent myself, Scott’s Diabetes, and mySugr to serve and help The Diabetes Collective, Inc. when requested.

Identifying barriers to transition of care

Changing from pediatric to adult care

I had a great pediatric diabetes care team and stayed with them as long as possible. I was in my mid-twenties still sitting in the waiting room with the little guys and gals. We passed the time by checking out Highlights Magazines and sliding shapes along metal rods.

Pediatric waiting room toyThen an insurance issue forced me out the door and I had to find an adult care team. The change was traumatic. It took about a decade for me to find another team I felt comfortable with, and my diabetes management surely suffered because of it.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But I bet it’s more common than we think, so I’m thrilled to see more research being done.

Please spare a few minutes of your time (less than 10) to help with a survey called “Identifying barriers to transition of care in young adults with type 1 diabetes” being done by Dr. Krishna at The Penn State College of Medicine & Hershey Medical Center (must be under 32 years old to participate).

Thank you!

Sugar Surfing comes to Minneapolis

A workshop with Dr. Stephen Ponder

Dr. Stephen Ponder is a pediatric endocrinologist and certified diabetes educator with Scott and White Healthcare in Temple, Tx. He’s lived with type 1 diabetes since March of 1966 and has been a pioneering force in diabetes telehealth and remote care for many years.

Dr. Stephen Ponder

One of his latest projects is Sugar Surfing, a modern approach to managing diabetes.

Sugar Surfing Book

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

The book was recently published and has been well received so far. Local PWD and social media superstar Allison Nimlos has worked with Dr. Ponder to bring his Sugar Surfing workshop to Minneapolis in September!

I just registered (cost is $10), and want to spread the word. I’d love to welcome Dr. Ponder to Minneapolis with a packed house. Can you come? It’s happening on September 24th, 2016, 12:30 pm (workshop runs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, at Open Book.

If you’re nearby and interested, please register and share! Space is limited, so don’t delay!

Register Now!

The Faces of Diabetes

Breaking stereotypes with positive attitudes

The Faces of Diabetes Logo

I love “The Faces of Diabetes” and the great work they’re doing. If you’re not already familiar, The Faces of Diabetes is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the way people see diabetes. Founded by Edward Fielder, the idea started from his senior thesis at Troy University where he mixed the heavy subject matter of diabetes and the humor often found in the situations we end up in. The website and associated social media channels feature user-submitted images along with short stories about their lives with diabetes.   (more…)