I’ve known Gary for several years, and most of my interactions with him have been silly (confessing that my daughter busts out dance moves to the Philadelphia 76er’s theme song), so I leaned on his website to pull a formal bio description. “An award-winning Certified Diabetes Educator, Masters-level Exercise Physiologist and person with type-1 diabetes since 1985, Gary Scheiner has dedicated his professional life to improving the lives of people with insulin-dependent diabetes. He was recently named 2014 Diabetes Educator of the year by the American Association of Diabetes Educators.”
Pretty awesome. And now Gary is bringing his personal experience as a PWD and professional expertise as a CDE into the blogging space, with the Think Like a Pancreas blog. I wanted to catch up with him about the how, and the why, of making the decision to join the online conversation:
Kerri: For the few who don’t know your story, what’s your connection to diabetes?
Gary: I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes back in the summer of 1985 in a town just outside of Houston, Texas named “Sugarland”. A coincidence? I don’t think so.
Kerri: Makes for a good story, though. When did you start becoming aware of/involved in the DOC? What sites were you frequenting back in the day?
Gary: I was first “introduced” to the DOC by Allison Nimlos (nee Blass) (love that word, nee. reminds me of the Knights of the Black Forest in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I’ve also been friends with Scott Johnson for many years, and anyone who knows Scott has to become connected with diabetes social media. The first sites I can recall visiting were David Mendosa’s Living With Diabetes, Kelly Close’s diaTribe, Amy Tenderich’s Diabetes Mine, and the Children With Diabetes site (since I’m on their faculty).
Kerri: So what made you decide to take the leap into social media?
Gary: Our national/international clientele are increasingly active on the web. It seems like the best way to communicate. Our practice has been publishing a newsletter for nearly 20 years. It started out as a printed publication called “Control Solutions” which then morphed into an e-publication called “Diabetes Bites”. However, putting them together was quite labor intensive. Blogging allows me and all of our Integrated Diabetes Services clinicians to get the word out in a timely and simple manner (better known as “fast” and “cheap”).
Kerri: What’s weirder: Blogging or Twitter?
Gary: It’s hard to get really weird in less than 140 characters. But both have their place: Twitter is great for sharing minor snippets of news and experiences. Like today, I couldn’t believe that TSA at Seattle’s airport was merging people in the pre-check line with people who had no background checks whatsoever, and sending them all through the same minimal security process. Talk about a major flight risk! It also makes the pre-screen process a complete waste of time. Anyway, I was able to share that on twitter – gave me a chance to vent and perhaps raise the ire of people who can do something about it.
Blogging allows us to delve more deeply into items of interest to the diabetes community. We can offer up a mix of key facts, experiences and personal opinions in a concise and lighthearted way. My “Sensor vs. Sensor” blog comparing the various CGM systems, for example, has become been a topic of online and live conversation worldwide since it came out last month.
Kerri: In your blog announcement, you said you wanted to “keep it fresh, informative and unbiased, yet opinionated and entertaining.” In a pleasantly-saturated market, how do you plan to do that with your site?
Gary: You have to remember, our blog team is very unique. The information is coming from recognized experts – nurses, dietitians, exercise physiologists and mental health professionals who are certified diabetes educators. There aren’t many bloggers with those kinds of credentials. All of our clinicians have type 1 diabetes themselves and extensive personal and professional experience with virtually every diabetes medication, product, and form of technology on the market. And we are not formally affiliated with any pharma company or device manufacturer. That allows us to KEEP IT REAL and remain UNBIASED and CREDIBLE. You won’t find that in too many places.
Kerri: So what are your social media goals? Looking to change the web? The WORLD?
Gary: Just want to entertain and inform our little corner of the diabetes world. Our focus is truly on the type 1 diabetes community, as well as type 2s on intensive insulin therapy who take their diabetes every bit as seriously as those with type 1. I’ll be very happy if each post can make one person smile, learn something they can apply, or just nod and say “Hey! Now I get it!”
Kerri: And how can people connect with you?
Gary: First off, I have to make a living. That comes from helping clients meet their diabetes management goals. Our practice offers individual consulting services all over the world via phone and the internet. Details are at our website, or people can call our office for more info: toll-free in North America. 877-735-3648. Outside North America +1 (610) 642-6055.
We also offer webinars on advanced topics in diabetes self-management at Type 1 University.
Our blog is called “Thinking Like A Pancreas, “named after my favorite diabetes book – guy who wrote that must be some kind of genius) [Editor's note: Clever, Gary. Clever.] , and it is located right on our website.
Our twitter handle is @Integ_Diabetes
Our facebook page is simply Integrated Diabetes Services
Kerri: Anything else you’d like to add?
Kerri: Thanks, Gary! Welcome to the blogosphere, and I’m looking forward to seeing how many Simpsons references you can cram into one post. And if you have trouble adding links to your blog posts, don’t blame me: I voted for Kodos.