This week, we look back on our first season of podcasts and advocacy messages, and we invite the feedback of our listeners to help us shape the 2024 season. As a background to introducing our studio guest, Stan again reflects on the rise of novel medications like Ozempic which has diverted attention away from aspects of chronic care ‘beyond the prescription pad’.

In this vein, our studio guest this week is Nina Johnson, who currently practices as an accredited Body Stress Release Practitioner. Before this new career path Nina had more than three decades of high-level experience in Banking, Warehousing, Transport and IT, across communities with diverse environments, cultures and languages. Nina has also lived with type 1 diabetes for 23 years.

In a vibrant and passionate chat, Nina talks about

  • Her experience as a Body Stress Release (BSR)
  • Practitioner for the past three years
  • The origins of this complementary health practice in South Africa, and how it engages the body’s innate capacity for self-healing
  • what BSR can achieve with alleviating physical, emotional and mental stress and pain, and in promoting overall confidence and wellbeing
  • The personal approach of BSR with clients and its therapeutic interface with chronic health conditions
  • The physical nature of BSR centering on the spine, and the reading of the body feedback to the practitioner’s touch
  • Her personal journey with type 1 diabetes, her extensive advocacy efforts and living with the condition in Kazakhstan and Qatar
  • The importance of living a life of gratefulness and joy and in looking after all aspects of your being
  • Her first experience of BSR as a client, deciding to do a BSR Course and what she learned
  • The need for self-help work for stress overload
  • The need for practitioner engagement and mindfulness in the consultation environment
  • Celebrating what is right in the world to be able to cope with what is wrong in the world

We wish our listeners and our advocacy partners a blessed, healthy and restful holiday season!

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Stan talks about common urological symptoms seen in the diabetes – he reminds us that not all health challenges in people with diabetes are caused by diabetes. Symptoms like ‘toilet-mapping’ may thus need referral to a urologist. Michael offers an easy way to discern if urine frequency is related to above-target blood glucose levels.

Endocrinologist Prof David Kerr is our studio guest this week. Happily living as a “Scotsman in the Golden State” of California, USA, David joins us on Thanksgiving Day to share his unique insights into technologies in the field of diabetes. His vast experience and current appointments make David ably qualified in this area – He currently serves as a Senior Investigator in Diabetes Research & Digital Health Equity @ the Sutter Center for Health Systems and Director for Digital Health @ the Diabetes Technology Society (both in Santa Barbara, California), and as an Adjunct Professor @ Rice University Electrical and Computer Engineering, Houston, Texas.

With many unexpected insights from an optimistic ‘tech guru’, David shares,

  • His early years leading a large hospital department in internal medicine and diabetes, the first uses of insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), and the resultant quality of life gains and an enhanced ability for people with diabetes to ‘experiment’ with their self-care.
  • His move to Santa Barbara in 2014, and his learnings in the democratisation of diabetes care from the large Hispanic population there
  • The possible ‘life’ learnings from CGM data – what we still need to learn to make this more effective with ‘life getting in the way’
  • His insights into ‘food as medicine’ as the creator of ‘Farming for Life’, a novel programme examining the impact of medical prescriptions of locally sourced, seasonally available fresh vegetables for adults with or at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Secrets behind helpful diabetes tech and the limitations of socio-economic determinants of health, reading age and digital literacy
  • His thoughts on ‘DIY’ community-led tech
  • Novel opportunities for pairing CGM with lifestyle interventions instead of new drugs
  • Reasons why diabetes education delivery has to change
  • The need for personalisation of the care of ‘my diabetes’, ‘digital champions’, and community health workers
  • How funders decide on funding new tech, or not…
  • Appropriate ‘doses’ of tech
  • The role of and concerns about artificial intelligence in healthcare
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Stan comments on the many surgeries he is seeing at the moment – in this context he pleads with colleagues to explain why insulin may need to be commenced in a hospital setting and why a simple ‘prescription’ is not enough. Michael reflects on the ‘damp squib’ of World Diabetes Day in terms of media coverage, and Stan laments the lack of advance in the education narrative.

Our studio guest this week is a ‘national treasure’, who has a great passion for diabetes, and who bravely ‘speaks truth to power’’. Dr Patrick Ngassa Piotie is a medical doctor with a PhD in public health. Patrick currently is a senior programme manager at the University of Pretoria Diabetes Research Centre, where he focusses on non-communicable diseases. Patrick is a strong advocate for access to quality diabetes care in developing countries, and a leading advocacy light in South Africa – he uses this talent as the Chairperson of the SA Diabetes Alliance.

“Old ways won’t open new doors” – Patrick Ngassa Piotie

We reflect on the just-past Diabetes Summit for 2023 in the context of the diabetes crisis in South Africa, what went well and what was learned from the day. Also on the ‘moonshot’ 90-60-50 diabetes targets in the National Strategic Plan, which unfortunately is plagued by chasms between policy and delivery.

In a wonderful story of grit, tenacity and insight, Patrick also shares his

  • Early life in Cameroon, Central Africa and the genesis of his interest in medicine
  • Studying medicine in Mali, and working in Cameroon, and his boredom and frustrations dealing with infectious diseases and a lack of resources
  • Decision to move to South Africa and study public health
  • Immense struggles and eventual success in entering and completing his Master’s degree
  • Struggles to enter the workplace and his progress to a PhD degree and employment in a research setting – “I found my way into what I was supposed to do”
  • ‘Real’ thoughts on why diabetes care isn’t where it should be (“the political leadership is the issue”), comparisons between the HIV/AIDS and diabetes stories in South Africa, the ‘low-hanging fruits’ in diabetes care (education, diabetes nurse educator training and recognition, a diabetes registry, use of new drugs and community health workers) and his ‘plan B’ strategy to continue the fight…
  • Commitment to fight for people with diabetes
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This week Stan and Michael talk about the global shortage of GLP-1 receptor agonist medications driven by social media influencers and social networking, and some caveats in swapping between member molecules even in the same class and in storage and transport.

We have a truly inspirational studio guest this week, Siyabonga Kwanele Zuma from Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. Siyabonga has a Bachelor of Social Science degree in Housing, Development Studies and the Built Environment from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, but his true passions lie in being a writer, poet and a diabetes advocate. He has also been living with type 1 diabetes for over 15 years. As a poet, he goes by his first name and middle name, Siyabonga Kwanele.

In a transformational story, Siyabonga relates:

  • His introduction to diabetes, through the diagnosis of his older sister with type 1 diabetes at the age of 16, followed by his own diagnosis the next year
  • How both him and his sister were initially misdiagnosed with influenza
  • His journey with diabetes encompassing feeling robbed of his childhood, living a double life while denying his diabetes because of stigma, and the temptations of peer-pressure which lead to him tossing ‘self-control’ and becoming addicted to marijuana and alcohol
  • The life events that led to a complete change in perspective, increasing self-awareness and self-acceptance, leading to him acknowledging and sharing his diabetes diagnosis and living a life of authenticity and openness as a rational, responsible person who is at peace while living with diabetes
  • His rising interest in writing poetry, and in creative diabetes advocacy and social commentary
  • His leadership style and current involvements in diabetes advocacy
  • His forthcoming books, ‘Millennial Thoughts’ a collection of poetry and prose about experiences of love, loss, and anxiety, and a tell-all autobiography
  • The dependable support he has shared with his sister

We also hear two of Siyabonga’s poems.

Catch Siyabonga on:

  • LinkedIn: Siyabonga Kwanele Zuma
  • Facebook: Siyabonga Kwanele
  • Instagram: @siyabonga_kwanele_
  • Tik Tok: @siyabonga_kwanele
  • YouTube: Siyabonga Kwanele
  • X: Dankie_SirKwanel
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Stan and Michael reflect on the just-past 25th CDE Postgraduate Forum in Diabetes Management, the growing ‘layers’ of physiological insights and care resources being identified, and the JEDI approach to learning included (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion). They also look forward to the upcoming World Diabetes Day on 14 November (themed ‘Know Your Risk, Know Your Response’), and the SA Diabetes Summit taking place in Pretoria on 15 November.

Joining us in studio for this week’s episode is Holly Heinzelmann, a BSc graduate and current Law Student, Public Speaker, Writer and Critical Thinker.

In a deeply personal conversation, Holly shares:

  • Her ‘epic’ experience at the CDE Forum as a person with lived experience of type 1 diabetes, and her positive feedback on the inclusion of people with diabetes as session facilitators
  • Her thoughts on who the real customer is for the pharma and diagnostic industries and the pharmacoeconomic case for including innovative technologies in diabetes care
  • Why continuous glucose monitoring is a vital part of her diabetes self-care.
  • Her experience as a person also living with cerebral palsy which affects her balance and ability to walk – Holly discusses how this affects her diabetes self-care both in treatment of hypoglycaemia and in physical activity, and how her chronic health challenges reduce her access to the privilege of ‘living with spontaneity’
  • Her thoughts on the subject of ‘disability’, working towards making this a neutral term, how others view the ‘value’ of people with various disabilities, and how others often assume wrongly that a physical disability is paired with a cognitive disability.
  • Her current involvements in disability and diabetes advocacy, and why all people should take this advocacy seriously
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In this Episode, Stan and Michael anticipate the upcoming 25th CDE Postgraduate Forum in Diabetes Management. They also discuss the differing course, treatments and outcomes of type 2 diabetes in identical twins, often due to differing environmental influences, and they continue reviewing the principles of ‘emergency contact’ in community-based proactive preventative care.

Our studio guest is Lurina Fourie, ‘The Glucose Glitch’, a professional photographer living with type 1 diabetes, poet, T1D Advocate and Content Creator – “I didn’t come here to be average!”

In an unmissable heart-to-heart discussion, reflect on Lurina’s

  • Amazing poem, ‘This is me’, which offers two vastly differing perspectives of living with diabetes depending on how you read it (we read it twice – listen to find out why!). For a video of Lurina introducing the poem and diabetes advocates reciting it, please check it out on Lurina’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tawfyOsj3H0
  • Positive approaches to overcome the challenges of diabetes, including finding a community of people with similar experiences and focusing on what is going well
  • Social media handle, ‘The Glucose Glitch’
  • Infectious optimism and her happy, fulfilled and positive approach to life, despite her challenges
  • Experiences of interactions with her health professional carers, and the utility of her lived experience
  • Creative advocacy role and efforts, especially among school children
  • Marriage to Steyn, and his supportive role in her life
  • Passion for photography and its role in her ‘vision’, and her advocacy efforts
  • ‘Big picture’ approach to self-management of diabetes,
  • Positive and wise perspective on possible future ‘diabetes burn-out’ and complications of diabetes – “I can’t steal today’s joy for the worries of tomorrow or the day after that”.

We play out this Episode with a few bars from Steyn Fourie, ‘n bekende Suid Afrikaanse sanger en liedjieskrywer. Check out his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@steynfourie8261/featured

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