Manny Hernandez, Diabetes Community Pioneer

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photoreminderHAND1Manny Hernandez, founder of the diabetes social network site, TuDiabetes.com, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002.  In 2007, Manny founded TuDiabetes, a community for people touched by diabetes and its Spanish language sister community, EsTuDiabetes. Manny hopes that diabetics of every type, newly diagnosed and veterans, moms with gestational diabetes, as well as parents of children with diabetes–no matter the ethnicity or nationality– will join in and make the most of diabetes social networking.

Manny Hernandez grew up in Venezuela, and studied at Cornell University.  In September 2007, he began to write a monthly column for dLife called “Hola Diabetes.”  In April 2008, Manny and his wife, Andreina Davila, started the non-profit organization, Diabetes Hands Foundation, with the goal of having no one with diabetes feel alone, and to help people without diabetes learn more about what it’s like to live with diabetes.

How did you find out you had diabetes?  Did your doctor explain  the diagnosis well?  Is there something your doctor or nurses could have done better?

My diagnosis was practically by accident, but a “fortunate” one, in a way. I was used to getting a yearly checkup and in 2002, the checkup resulted in being diagnosed with diabetes. However (because I was overweight and 30 at the time), I was incorrectly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and sent home with a “typical” type 2 treatment, based on Metformin, diet and exercise. After a few months, this treatment proved to not be working so my primary care physician referred me to an endocrinologist who found that I tested positive for GAD antibodies and had very low C-Peptide levels. Hence, I had actually type 1 diabetes and was put on an insulin treatment right away.  Over time, I learned that my type of diabetes is also referred to as LADA:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CxG3BZ_DRA&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

What is missing from diabetes care?  What needs to be done?

Empowering the patients more: Giving patients more resources (online and offline) to go to when/if they have doubts or questions. Emphasizing the importance of being member of an online community: http://tudiabetes.com/profiles/blogs/ten-reasons-why-you-should This doesn’t take away from the critical role of the medical team: it rather compliments their work by offering much needed support to those living with a chronic condition like diabetes.

What do you find the most fulfilling project that you are working on with your foundation, The Diabetes Hands Foundation?

BigBluetest1We are very excited about the three projects we have currently under way for World Diabetes Day:
1) With Making Sense of Diabetes, we are calling on people with diabetes to do a 2-3 minute video focusing on their lives with diabetes through one of the five senses.
In time for World Diabetes Day (Nov. 14), we will be doing a compilation video highlighting some of the best submissions we’ve received. We’ve been blown away so far.

2) We are collaborating with several other champions in the diabetes social media space to raise the profile of World Diabetes Day in the USA, where things were a bit too quiet last year. We launched WDDUSA.org a few weeks ago to invite people touched by diabetes in the USA to make a difference and do things to get the word out about this important day. WDDUSA also has a Twitter account.

3) On Nov. 14 at 14:00 hours (2 pm local time, wherever you may be) we will hold The Big Blue Test. The idea is to have people with diabetes (and their loved ones) test their blood sugar, do 14 minutes of exercise, test again and share their reading on TuDiabetes.org or Twitter. You can read more details about this here.
We expect to have many thousands of people with diabetes participate thanks to our collaboration with eight other diabetes online communities. We are not alone in our lives with diabetes, but activities like this one make it easier to remember and realize it.

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Catherine

I love the idea of the Big Blue Test — but I have a question: normally it takes my body more than 14 minutes to start to react to exercise. (I usually really start seeing a difference around 20 to 25 minutes in, at which point my BS can drop precipitously.) Do others find that their bodies react more quickly? And is there going to be a way on the site to indicate whether you had acting insulin on board?
I’m interested to see the results. . . .

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