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My Advocacy Journey #HAWMC

Today’s prompt is about my advocacy journey. Was it hard? Why did I decide to start?

The journey is the most excited part. End results are always great, but the journey and the story behind it, to me, is the most exciting part. My advocacy journey was something that was not planned. It sort of just fell into my lap and then I participated in one advocacy effort and that was it. I was hooked.

My journey pretty much started when I decided to start my blog. The first time that I received a comment on a post was when I knew that I could actually do something to make a difference. And that’s when the bulb went off.

I first sat down and thought about things that were important to me in the diabetes world. Back then, it was education. I was shocked that there were 20+ million Americans with diabetes and only thousands of diabetes educators. Who was educating all these people? Well, I find out, they weren’t being educated. So, back then I took part in providing an opportunity for diabetes educators to use my site to write their own guest posts because they didn’t have their own websites at the time. This allowed them to reach out to the public to let them know that this lack of education is a big issue.

It still is a really big issue!

After that, I realized that I could use the voice that I created with the site to share others’ advocacy efforts. That is when I hit a roadblock.

I started sharing too many efforts. So many that I couldn’t even keep track of them anymore. I couldn’t put any effort into anything because my time and effort was being spread so thin.

That was one area that was difficult. I didn’t want to not share ideas and advocacy efforts from other people. But, I knew that I had to. I couldn’t help spread everyone’s idea.

A few years later, I began to have more and more conversations with Bennet Dunlap, who those in the diabetes community know is one of the best advocators out there. Through Bennet, I was able to learn more about Christel Aprigliano and her advocacy efforts and the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. And wow, my advocacy thoughts completely changed. I remember thinking to myself, “Dude, you’re advocacy efforts are whack compared to these two, it’s time to step up your game!”

That is exactly what I did. I stepped up my game. I started to advocate more. I also started to help others figure out how to advocate more. I started to become less shy and speak up in person and meet with people that could influence the lives of people living with diabetes.

Over the last 3-6 months, my advocacy efforts have fallen off the map again. But, what else than a month long writing challenge to help spark that advocacy fire again.

And boy, is there a lot to advocate for.

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Superpower Sunday Prompt #HAWMC

Today’s prompt is, if you had a superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?

The superpower that I would choose doesn’t really have much to do with advocacy, even though I’m sure I could use it somehow. I would choose the superpower of being able to fly. I’ve always wanted to be able to glide through the sky and just look down to look at the beautiful sights below. I could easily get up and fly over the ocean, the mountains, etc.

It would also make it a lot easier to get to different advocacy efforts around the country and world as well.

I’m not really 100% sure what else I can write about having a superpower, because flying is pretty self-explanatory.

Be back with more words tomorrow.

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My Favorite Social Platform #HAWMC

My favorite platform to use for diabetes is Twitter. I use Facebook also, but I get a lot more engagement on Twitter. I like Twitter because it’s search feature is so much easier to use than any other platform. So, if I want to engage with someone about a particular topic, it’s much easier to search for people that have that as an interest.

I also love Twitter Chats that are on Twitter, primarily #DSMA.

Majority of my connections over the years have started because of an engagement involved in a #DSMA chat.

In honor of Twitter, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. I made my point and that’s it.

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A Letter to Myself on My Diagnosis Day

Dear Chris,

There is a lot that I would like to tell you that I wish I would have known at the age you are at now. I’m going to just stick with diabetes though. I want you to be prepared that you are about to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I know that you have been losing a lot of weight, losing your appetite, and you’ve spent all day today vomiting, but it’s going to get better.

The insulin drip that the emergency room is going to put you on is going to help bring your 858 blood glucose level down. You’re body is going to feel a lot worse before it starts to feel better again, but do not get discouraged.

You are also going to receive a lot of information about the bad parts of diabetes, risk of heart disease, eye disease, kidney failure, amputations and more. Take a deep breath and take this all in with a grain of salt. I want you to know that you will learn that there are ways that you can lower these risks.

You need to know that this is going to effect your family a lot as well. You need to stay strong for your family members who feel like you are going to die early from one of these complications. 

It’s also important for you to know right away that you are not alone. You do not know many people in your area that have diabetes, but if you go online, you will find thousands of them. And, soon, they will become some of your closest friends.

Finally, the last piece of advice that I can give you, is to learn as much about the disease as possible. Don’t just go to doctor’s appointments and let them tell you what to do. Have an understanding of every drug being put into your body, every product out there, and just become an educated patient in general.

You are going to face a lot of challenges, a lot. There are going to be a lot highs, a lot of lows and not just blood sugars. Your blood sugars are going to send your body and mind through emotional roller coasters. There’s going to be days when you say “eff it, I’m done with this diseases” But, please don’t give up on it.

This disease is now a part of you, you have to live your life with it, so why not live with it with a great relationship.

Just know that every bad blood sugar is just a blip of time. It will go back down, you will be OK. Just keep your head high and move on.

And, one last piece of advice… Buy the domain name TheLifeofaDiabetic.com before someone else does!

– 2016 Chris

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Inspirational Quotes for #HAWMC

Inspirational quotes, boy, do I have a lot. But there are two main quotes that I focus on every single day. I actually read these two quotes out loud to myself every single day.

The first one is very, very simple. In fact, it doesn’t get much easier than this:

1>0

That’s it. Literally, that’s the quote. One is Greater Than Zero. I began to grasp onto this concept when I heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak about this. And now, I relate it to everything in my life.

When I don’t feel like writing another post, I just say, hey 1 not so great post is still better than 0. When I’m a bit tired to send an outreach email to a local politician, I just tell myself to send at least one email because that’s better than not sending any at all.

If I can reach just one person with something that I write, then reaching 1 person is a lot better than reaching no one at all.

I can, and I’m sure you can too, relate to this quote in just about every instance of your life.

The other quote is:

Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have always loved this quote and I feel that it has always helped me be a leader and ultimately led to me running a successful company and becoming a better advocate. At times it is best to just fall in line and follow the group for the bigger picture, however, do not be a sheep.

Be different, do something unique to your skill sets and personality and you may be able to go a lot further with your advocacy efforts.

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My Writing Process is Not So Much of a Process #HAWMC

Today’s prompt for #HAWMC is to write about our writing process. Well, if you read yesterday’s post, you probably noticed a few typos and errors. So, that shows you my writing process. As I mentioned, I type the way that I write. I do edit, but when I don’t follow my normal process of writing, that’s what happens…. errors.

So, here is my process for writing.

The process that I try to follow when writing is my perfect case scenario, which rarely happens. However, I try to find some time on the weekends in the mornings to just sit down somewhere relaxing with my iPad Pro and just write 3-4 post at a time. If I already have the topics and themes in my mind for these posts then I can write 5-6 at one sitting. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I don’t have a specific topic so it takes me a bit longer to come up with ideas to write about.

Once I have these posts written, either in a Google Doc, Notes or in the WordPress app, I will upload as a draft to WordPress and give it a title and just leave it there and walk away. I will come back later that day or the next day with the next day’s cup of coffee and begin the editing process. During this editing process, I will also search the web for useful links to other posts or articles that I can link to for more information about a specific topic. Once that is done, I will optimize meta data and social meta in order to get the most reach out of the post and make it easily shareable (Hey, I own a digital marketing agency, it’s just a habit).

After all of that, I schedule the post for whatever day I want it to run. Sometimes, like today actually, I wrote this post in the morning and came back in the afternoon to edit it, so I will just publish it as soon as I’m done.

I do not sit on a post for too long waiting to perfect it. In my mind, I will never write the perfect post. The only perfect post to me is the one that I actually publish. The ones that sit as drafts do me no good just sitting there. That’s the great part about a blog. If my opinions change or I wanted to add more, I can just write a new post, or even add to an older one.

That’s my process, curious to see what has worked for others.

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Day 1 of Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge

What Drives Me to Write and What I Want Health Activists to Know #HAWMC

Today is November 1, which means it is a lot of things. It is my birthday, it is the start of National Diabetes Awareness Month, it is the start of the November Health Activist¬†Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) and a beginning to another great month of 2016.

I will be participating in #HAWMC this year, so welcome to anyone who is here for the first time and thank you for taking the time to read.

Today’s prompt for #HAWMC is two part: What drives you to write about your health and what do you want other Health Activists to know about your condition and activism?

What Drives Me To Write

I started this site almost 10 years ago and began writing because it was a good way for me to get things off of my chest about my diabetes. I felt very alone at the time because I didn’t know anyone else who had diabetes and I felt very “woe is me”. So, I started to write. I just started to write about anything and everything that came to my mind about the disease. For the first several months, I wasn’t sure if anyone was even reading what I was writing and I began to feel a little discouraged because now I was just lonely writing on the internet as well.

But then one day somebody commented on a post. It was a long comment, but one part of it stood out to me:

Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you, your words have changed my mindset about this disease

That was it. That comment itself fueled me to keep writing, and keep writing more. If I could make a difference in just one person’s life with every post that I wrote, then I felt like I was accomplishing something and making a big difference by making small difference.

This is exactly what still drives me to write to this day. If I have a question about something, I know I’m not the only one. If I have an opinion about something, I know that I’m not the only one. So, I write. I write so that someone does not feel alone like I once did. I know that feeling and it sucked.

My other driving force that keeps me writing is to just provide as much information as I possibly can to let people know that yes, I have diabetes, but I’m living a pretty normal life. I’m a father, a husband, an entrepreneur, a brother, an uncle, a friend, etc. The more I can flood the interwebs with positive information about this disease, the more it can spread and the more people can learn about it.

What Do I Want Other Health Activists to Know About My Condition and Activism

The main thing that I want other health activists to know is that diabetes is not just about eating better, exercising, and living life to avoid getting amputations later in life. I want people to know that it is a very serious chronic disease that we have to live with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We do not get any off days. The best way that I have heard diabetes described as is…a full time job, that is 24/7 and there’s no pay.

With all that being said, I don’t want any health activists to feel bad for anyone living with diabetes. This is not a “woe is me” outcry. This is just a way for me to help explain what living with diabetes is really like. Just like I have no idea what it’s like to live with any other chronic disease, I am excited to ready #HAWMC posts to learn more about other diseases.

That leads me to what I want people to know about my activism. First, let me say that I’m most excited to learn from other health communities to hear about all of your activism ideas and what has worked and see what I can utilize to help further my activism work.

When it comes to activism, what you do is different from everyone else, but all that matters is that you actually do something. Anything. I’ve learned over the years that I am never going to a professional, published author because of my writing style. A lot of people don’t like it, but I really don’t care.

I type out the words that are coming to my brain like I am speaking them out loud. I write how I speak. This was something that I was scared of at first because I felt like no one was going to take my activism seriously because of my writing style. I quickly found out that was not the case.

I have not done a lot of offline activism, but I have been successful with activism via social media. I have found that to be my greatest tool when trying to spread the word about something I am advocating for.

I am hoping to get to know a lot more people from different health communities. Please leave a comment on the site or on Facebook just saying hello so we can connect and learn from each other to make the health activism world a much better place.

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ADA Walk in Allentown PA

Late last week my wife and I had to make the decision on whether or not we were going to evacuate our home in south Florida or stick out the storm. When we made our decision the path of the hurricane was not looking good. We knew that we wouldn’t be directly hit, but felt that we would get enough of the storm that it would make us lose power. And we did not want to lose power with an 18 month old.

So, we decided that we were going to evacuate. We thought about just making the short drive to Orlando for the weekend, but they were bracing for the storm themselves, so we had to go even further west or further north, so of course, we chose north since it’s where I’m from.

We made the drive north to PA and made it by Thursday morning. I was told by my mom that my brother was going to a diabetes walk on Saturday for my niece. I found out that the local ADA Step Out walk was going to be taking place at Coca-Cola Stadium in Allentown, PA, the home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies Triple A Affiliate).

This was the first diabetes walk that I was attending that I wasn’t the only person with diabetes that was walking. Typically, it is just me and the walk is about myself. This time, I was sharing the honor with my niece, but was mainly about her. I’ve done my share of walks and I think that they can be a lot of fun for kids, especially when they see other kids running around with an insulin pump or CGM.

kendall-simmons-chris-stockerSpeaking at the event was Kendall Simmons, who has partnered with Novo Nordisk to share his story. I’ve met Kendall in the past and have also interviewed the Super Bowl champion. When I met him again on Saturday, I wanted to check out the Super Bowl rings again. Primarily because I am an Eagles fan and I never know when or if I will ever see one.

During the walk there were a bunch of signs along the path that had a red hand and a picture of someone with diabetes. While we were walking through, my niece kept saying everyone’s name and looking at the picture and then bam…. “Hey, that one is me!”

My sister-in-law was able to get my niece’s picture and name and a special note on one of the signs. She was so happy and excited to see her face there. As people walked by they were cheering and clapping for her because of her excited look.

This was one of those good diabetes moments. Seeing someone so excited to see their picture, even though it’s diabetes related, it makes it exciting and not just the constant negative vibe that diabetes gives out.

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I Need Your Help with Recipes

I need your help.

I’ve found plenty of recipes online for some healthy snacks and healthy ways to eat unhealthy foods, but a lot of the times, they end up being too complicated, don’t turn out right or they need these crazy herbs that cost $20 and I only use a small little pinch of it and then throw the rest away.

I am looking for a few good recipes for cauliflower. I tried making cauliflower rice a few weeks ago and it took about 30 minutes to prep and it turned out disgusting, I could barely eat it. However, I’ve bought steamable bags of cauliflower rice before and it was good, so I know that I like it.

I’m interested in trying cauliflower pizza, so if you have a home recipe or a link to one that you like, please share with me.

Here are some of my favorite foods and what I’ve done so far to try and eliminate the unhealthy side of it.

  • Tacos – I’ve gotten rid of the shells and use lettuce wraps to eat tacos. The issue is that I LOVE rice in my taco, so I need a healthy alternative.
  • Pizza – who doesn’t love pizz, but who can actually figure that stuff out when it comes to bolusing for it? I know I can’t. For that reason, I want a healthy alternative.
  • Dipping Sauces – anybody who knows me, knows I am a dipping sauce fanatic, especially from Chic-Fil-A. Unfortunately, this stuff is just filled with sugar and fat. Any healthy options to replicate these things?
  • Chinese Food – This is by far my guiltiest pleasure. When I get stressed, I want Chinese food. Does anybody have any healthier options that could replicate this?

Please share all of your healthy side dish options with me. I love to cook and I love losing weight and eating clean, healthy foods.

Thanks in advance.

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