Do you share your CGM graphs and A1Cs online? Why?
Stacey talks about the trend of sharing everything on social media and wonders if what she learned in her radio career might help us all make sense of when and how to better share.
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Show transcript (rough copy so please excuse spelling, grammar, punctuation)
Stacey Simms 0:00
This episode of diabetes Connections is brought to you by the World’s Worst Diabetes Mom: Real Life Stories of Parenting a Child With Type One Diabetes, available as a paperback eBook and audiobook. Learn more at diabetes dash connections.com
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Welcome to something new on diabetes connections. I’m your host, Stacey Simms. And this is a mini sode, a very short mini episode. I’m going to be doing these in the new year. Just me sharing some thoughts, advice and experience. Please keep in mind, everything I’m talking about here is only through my personal experience as a parent of a child with Type One Diabetes. I am not a medical professional. And I am the author of the world’s worst diabetes mom. So keep that in mind as well. One of the questions I get All the time is why don’t I share Benny’s numbers? Why don’t I share my son’s A1Cs? Why don’t I post more graphs? I do occasionally show some CGM action, you know when I’m trying to prove a point or talk about stuff. But why don’t I do that more regularly and especially the A1C numbers? Well, I really did share them for a long time.
Benny, he was diagnosed right before he turned two and social media wasn’t as big a thing in 2006 when he was diagnosed, but a couple years later, it was and I shared them on Twitter and Facebook until he was about seven, I’d say. And then I became friends with Moira McCarthy, who is a very well known author, blogger. She helps me out on diabetes connections as my co host of the Ask the D mom episodes, and she asked me to think about why I was doing that. And it really did did took me back. I took a step back on that. And after I thought about it for a while, I did stop sharing them. And here’s what really helped me. It’s one way of looking at it. That might sound funny. Radio really helped me make more sense of how I felt about diabetes numbers. If you’re not familiar, I worked in radio for a very long time I started my career while I was in college, at a radio station. I worked at WSYR, I was the weekend reporter in Syracuse, New York for the old news station there. And then after college, I was a local TV anchor and reporter for many years, moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I live now in that capacity. I work for the CBS affiliate as a TV reporter and anchor for a couple of years. But I went back to radio for a decade and I did mornings at WBT, one of these big heritage radio stations.
So my old Program Director, Bill White, used to caution us against putting too much stock into the ratings. You know, you get these Nielsen ratings, at least you used to in radio, and I want to say you got them every quarter. And these were the ratings that would give us I mean, not just bragging rights, which was a lot of fun to say, you know, we’re number one in the market or you know, we’re number two or whatever. It was, but they would also set the commercial rates, right how much the sales people could charge for a commercial at any given time on the radio station. Now, it changed a lot in the time that I was in radio, because the ratings systems switched from Nielsen ratings, which were you were writing down what you listen to, I don’t know if you ever had one of these Nielsen books, but that’s what it was, you would get a physical book. Remember those pen paper like a workbook, and you should write down what you listen to. That’s why so many radio stations repeat their call letters a billion times, or at least they did back then. Because they wanted you to remember the call letters when you got your little Nielsen book. So if you’re listen to radio station, they’re always like news, weather, traffic, you’re listening to news talk 1110 WBT, you know, why did we say it a million times an hour, we needed it to stick in your head so you would write it down. But then, really just a couple of years before I left radio, the portable people meter, the ppm system took over and changed everything.
So ppm, if you’re not familiar, is a system that was developed, I want to say by Arbitron, but now part of Nielsen. So it’s like a pager almost, and you wear it. And it detects hidden audio tones, I kid you not within the audio stream, so it logs every time it finds a signal. So a ppm basically picks up when you’re listening. And when it came through, there was a lot of talk about is it accurate? Is it biased to younger people who are going to walk around with this thing as opposed to older listeners who can’t be bothered, you know, will it pick up stuff in gas station stores that play music or restaurants you know, blah, blah, blah, doesn’t matter that ship has sailed. The ppm is now how radio stations get their ratings and it changed everything which is a story for a different time. But I will say if your your local fun morning show is talking less than playing music more, or you’re hearing some changes, really you would have heard these almost 10 years ago now and the way you listen to radio Do it was because of ppm and you know now it’s debatable whether radio podcasts streaming, that’s a whole other story. But so ppm for us really changed the numbers.
Our radio station WBT never really sold on those numbers strictly though, because we had a very desirable audience. We had an older audience, our audience had more money, they were more loyal. They were really apt to buy what we were selling. So we did not have to live and die by the ratings, thankfully, and that is what Bill warned us against my program director. If we got so caught up and excited about the really, really good ratings, would we be devastated by the bad, right where we doing a good show where we serving our listeners, my co host, used to say, super serving our listeners, you know, where we doing all we could for our clients, you know, we were doing all this at 5am where we’re doing everything we could do, and that’s what we were supposed to focus on. Bill’s point was Don’t let the numbers run your life. Life and a new station. This is really important. Think about when you might listen to your local news station, you might listen when there’s a power failure and you need that radio, you might listen when there’s a huge news story, you might just listen occasionally. I mean, in the olden days, you’d listen for school closings before the internet. So we’d get these, these spikes that were very attributable to events, right. And then we would get these lows, that maybe were also attributable to events. But if you got emotionally caught up and thought, oh, all these people are listening, because I’m so great. Then you could also get emotionally messed up when you’re thinking they’re all tuning out because of me. So you can’t put the numbers before what you’re supposed to be accomplishing. As a news broadcaster. We were there to inform, to entertain a bit sure, but to inform. And I think Bill’s advice is really applicable to diabetes.
Look, of course, numbers are important. Of course, we need to pay attention to them, but We can’t run our lives around them, we can’t let them have the emotional power that many seem to want to give them. I mean, I’ve been guilty of this too. But you have to step back and recognize they are information, they are guidelines, they are not your value. If your self worth is coming from your child’s or your A1C, I’d really encourage you as Moira did to me years ago, step back and think about that, think about why. And then I would encourage you to try to move that good feeling off of those numbers and onto other ways that you’re dealing with diabetes. I mean, for very young children. I mean, that can be such a roller coaster. The victories for me, were the smiles with grandparents, you know, bedtime snuggles, milestones like potty training, you know, even when your your little kid learns to share, right? These are all ways of celebrating and as your kids get older, participating in sports or in the school play, getting their drugs permit Ben he just got his somebody come hold my hand. Oh my god. But these are things to celebrate first date, right? Oh my gosh, these are ways to celebrate with diabetes that aren’t about the numbers.
Just thinking back right? What stands out if you have older kids, or if you’re an adult with type one, what stands out for you? Do you remember that excellent doctor’s appointment? Or do you remember feeling really good and doing something that you loved? Because you have to be in range have to be taken care of yourself to be feeling good at these times is all is my point. But you’re not focusing on the actual number right? If you’re calling your endo appointment, mommy’s report card, I am talking to you. Because what happens is, so many people share only the so called good numbers, right? But they don’t want to share the so called bad ones. Because if you have publicly celebrated, let’s just say a 6.5 A1C you may feel really bad about 7.8 or higher? I mean, let’s be real here.
And something else to keep in mind. And maybe the most important thing is that for parents, you’re making these choices for your kids. You’re putting their health information online, you’re putting it out there adults, this is different for you. I mean, these are your choices. But parents, you’re making a decision for your kids and you’re really not getting their okay. And I don’t think a seven year old can really decide if it’s okay, right. Remember, if you’re in a private Facebook group, nothing online is private, nothing you’re sharing online once you hit send, or put it out there. Nothing online is private. And that’s really the biggest reason why I stopped sharing Benny’s A1C. I decided there was no reason for me to leave a breadcrumb trail of health information on the internet for someone and employer and insurer, anybody to find when he was an adult, I don’t care how good his numbers have been. And trust me they’re far from perfect. Sometimes they’re No need to share that.
One more thing. There is a school of thought that you don’t even need to tell younger children what their A1C is. And I wish I had done that. I mean, I don’t really think Benny ever knew until he was out of elementary school. But a lot of endocrinologists are now writing it down and showing the parents if you’re in the room together, or maybe emailing it to you later through a health portal, which is protected by HIPAA in a way that Facebook obviously is not. And I think that’s great, because you can easily find ways to celebrate or mark time with your kids or, you know, hey, we’re at the endo and that’s always a reason why we do. We go to a movie, we go shopping, we do a special high five, whatever works for you. But you’re not celebrating the number per se.
And back to Benny for a moment. Here’s how I know he didn’t know what his A1C was when he was little. He had a nurse asked him once he was a camp so he was in a not normal setting. And the kids were eating ice cream and I don’t know why the nurse was involved. Maybe they were doing it at the health center. Who knows But he asked for his ice cream. And she said, Oh, I don’t know. Should you be eating this? What’s your A1C? He was about eight, maybe nine. And he said, I don’t know. He turned around and found another nurse and said, Can I have the ice cream? She was like, yeah, sure, Benny, no problem. And, you know, he told me that story when he came home from Camp, but I was kind of glad he didn’t know. And I was really glad that he was smart enough to find somebody to give him the darn ice cream.
I am not trying to be a killjoy here. You know, we all have what works for us. But I urge you try this. You may find it incredibly freeing not to share your numbers not to share your child’s numbers. Come on, you are all so much more than the A1C or the last 24 hours on a graph. Right? You’re not raising a number. You’re raising a child. I hope this gives you something to think about.
Agree. disagree. Remember, I am the World’s Worst Diabetes mom. And the book is available on Amazon paperback eBook and audio book and it’s available at diabetes dash connections. com where you can always find out more. I hope you come back for our regular full length episodes. Every Tuesday, we feature interviews with newsmakers, athletes, artists, celebrities, authors, speakers, and everyday people, quote unquote just living with Type One Diabetes. I’ve been doing the podcast for four and a half years now, and I really hope you find episodes that you love.
I’m Stacey Simms. I’ll see you back here next week. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All rounds avenged
Transcribed by Otter.ai