Apps, Interviews, and Panels

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The past few weeks have been rather involved for me, diabetes-wise. See, in addition to that panel I was part of with the University of Michigan Medical School’s Family Centered Experience program, there have been two other rather out-of-the-blue diabetes-related requests. I intended to write about all three things a couple of weeks ago, but instead I felt that writing about my public-speaking (initial) fail warranted more attention. At least for my own reasons it did: Writing that blog entry was actually rather cathartic and helped me get over the embarrassment I continued to feel about finding myself completely tongue-tied in front of 150 medical students.

The other two requests came because the people making the requests discovered me through this blog. Both were interviews that we conducted via e-mail, and the results/products of both are still in process, so I won’t be giving names and specific details. However, I think that it’s worth sharing a bit about these interactions.

The first request was for some insight into how I use any smartphone health apps or social media. The person making the request is a researcher doing some fellowship work on how these things “might help with increasing patient motivation and adherence to physician recommendations and medication regimens.”

I responded with several pages of typed answers. Here are a couple of my quotes that I think sum up what I feel about these technologies:

The intentions behind the apps I’ve seen are great, but in practice they quickly lose their luster. If an app isn’t integrated into something I already do/use quite often, or isn’t very, very simple (read not time-consuming), I’ll abandon it. I don’t want to log in to another Web site; I don’t want to go somewhere I’m not already at! (which, social-mediawise, is going to be Facebook). What I want is something that makes my life easier rather than cause me grief when I forget to check in or enter the info, and it shouldn’t take longer to load an app and do what I need with it than it does to open a notebook and use a pencil.


When it comes down to it, I really want to more easily monitor my blood glucose… a better meter, a micro meter (tiny tiny lancet device, cartridge of strips like a clip, etc., all integrated into something that hooks up directly with an app and also talks to my insulin pump. Closed-loop, I guess?) The other things that most of the apps attempt to do, from my pov [point of view], all fall by the wayside pretty quickly.

What about you guys? Do you use any diabetes apps? Do you hang out in diabetes groups on Facebook or elsewhere, and does this help in your control of your diabetes?

The other request was for an interview with both Kathryn and me. It came from a writer who interviewed me over four years ago for this article. Her next article, which will be for a different publication, is about partner support for those living with diabetes. Both Kathryn and I were interviewed, and we shared our answers, again, via a back-and-forth e-mail conversation, which allows people like my wife and me to better articulate our answers to questions (me, especially: I mean, all you need to do is look back at my face-plant in my panel discussion!).

The questions asked in the interview for this forthcoming article are general enough that I’d like to share them with you and perhaps maybe you’ll think about what your answers would be. Of course when the article’s published, I’ll let you know.

• How does your spouse/partner support you? Does your partner encourage exercise or exercise with you? Do you feel you receive emotional support? What other ways does your spouse support you?

• Are there any surprising ways your spouse is supportive that mean a lot to you, but that might not seem like a big deal (but really are)?

• Do you and your spouse/partner support each other in general when it comes to health, so that the diabetes support is part of a bigger picture?

• How has diabetes changed your relationship, changed habits such as needing to eat meals at set times, or going out for ice cream or having a drink on Saturday night?

• People have talked a lot about diabetes burnout for people who have diabetes — the stress of dealing with it every single day. How does that affect your relationship?

• Do you have any advice for other couples about working together on diabetes? What are the best kinds of support? What should a partner avoid doing?

So there you go. I’m not going to share these answers, because the article’s in progress. But if you want to respond, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of these questions.

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