DRWF Wellness Day South – 22nd June 2013

Going, then not going, then going again

I had originally planned to go to this event, but then something else turned up, I got sidetracked and never put it in my diary.
If I’m honest the photos of the previous year’s event didn’t inspire me that this event would have much relevance for Type 1 diabetes. I’d like to state now that I couldn’t have been more wrong, and some parts probably had a lot more relevance to Type 1 than the majority of the audience who (I’m guessing) had Type 2.

Helping another person with diabetes

For all the diabetes events I go to I do it for someone else, my daughter Amy who has Type 1 Diabetes. This time however I was going for someone different, my dad Roy who has had Type 2 Diabetes for many years.
My Dad seemed to know very little about his condition but to be honest he didn’t need to as my lovely step-mum Liz managed his diabetes, making sure he ate the right things and took his tablet medication. My Dad didn’t really even know what his last hbA1c was – which shocked me – and it as at that point I start talking to him regularly about diabetes. I should have done this some time ago.
So a few weeks ago I convinced my Dad and Liz to go to this DRWF event and freed up my diary to go with them, something my Dad wanted.

On my way

Just before leaving I tweeted (like I do 🙂 )

drwf tweet

I love it when social media officers in charities/companies/etc embrace a sense of humour.

Welcome to the family

Arriving at the event earlier than my Dad, I bumped into Helen (who I’d met at the last JDRF event) and had a chat before being tapped on the shoulder and turning around to meet DRWF’s Claire who’d been tweeting with me earlier; I’d not met Clare before but we had a good chat as if we were old friends, that’s what happens at diabetes events, one big family.
Later I caught sight of DRWF’s CEO Sarah Bone who said “Ah, Mr Oceantragic” or something like that. It’s really nice to be recognised at these events, especially by those who must meet so many people in their role.
It feels like being a part of a big family, meeting your distant cousins at some celebration.

The day starts

After a few words from Sarah, then Lee (the event organiser) spoke for a while before the first speaker came on.

The Diabetes Checklist, Dr Mayank Patel

Dr Mayank Patel is a Diabetes Consultant Physician at the General Hospital in Southampton. I didn’t recognise the name but I should have, I follow him on Twitter, but in my defence he doesn’t tweet much.
He spoke about the checklist of diabetes care that everyone should be getting, expecting, demanding. He asked who had heard of the 15 item checklist and I raised my hand, along with very few others; I was quite surprised.
I found myself nodding with many things Dr Patel said and enjoying every minute of his talk.
I could see that my Dad had learned a fair bit in this talk and I was pleased.

Diabetes behind the wheel, Dr Patrick Sharp

Dr Patrick Sharp is a Diabetes Consultant Physician for the Solent NHS Trust. (I’d better check whether I’m following him on Twitter 🙂 ).
He went through the current state of play with driving in you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes; stating the current law and importantly why it’s changed recently.
I liked the way he spoke about the sense/logic behind the DVLA’s current rules and medically the reason for the rules.
Importantly he explained the ‘assisted hypos’ which seems to cause confusion no end, explaining that an assisted hypo is not when you ask your spouse/parent/partner to get you your Dextro tablets, it’s when you need help from a healthcare professional or similar.

Meet The Experts

The hour long coffee break was also the Meet The Experts time where we could go around the stalls. I headed straight to INPUT Diabetes, met Lesley and had a good chat.
I went round all the stands by myself, bumping occasionally into my Dad and pleased to see him getting so involved and interested.
I wanted to also see the Menarini Diagnostics stand and chat with them about their Glucomen meter, which we’ve got two off. I’d called their support desk last week to discuss a potential faulty meter and they were great, so I wanted to pass on my thanks. I found the stand but it looked odd, only showing their GlucoRx meter. Turned out it was a different company (GlucoRx – I only found out after saying ‘are you Glucomen?’. Oops. I was quite impressed with the design of their GlucoRx Nexus Mini and the practicality of the brand new GlucoRx Nexus Voice speaking glucose meter.
Apart from INPUT one of the better chats I had was with a dietician talking but it didn’t start well. I saw the stand and spotted their Eatwell plate, then I saw a slightly different version, it was the Eatwell plate for the Asian community so I picked up a leaflet. The dietician looked at me strangely and offered me the normal leaflet which I declined.
“No thanks the Asian one will do me fine”
“We have it in Bengali too”
(Alright love, I’ll do the jokes around here thanks)
I then kept her busy with questions and questions about low-carbing, low-GI, deducting fibre grammes whilst carb counting and my favourite carb-counting topic of when to count, or not, a portion of 5g veg. (Don’t get me started, I’ll be here all week!!)

Pilates with Priya

Priya Tew is a level 3 pilates instructor and honestly I had no interest in watching her demo. Not for me right, I’m a bloke, I play football, squash and go surfing (although all quite badly to be fair).
But watch it I did and how glad am I that I stated.
Priya gave a few demos although being at the back I could barely see, and she explained why pilates could be good for some of the people in the audience.
Then came the eye-opener for me: “Pilates is good for those with a frozen shoulder”.
Hold on, I’ve got one of them, I’ve had it 3 years!. Whilst it’s no longer painful my arm movement is quite restricted. I listened more eagerly to the rest of the demo.
Afterwards I spoke with Priya and discussed a way forward for me, how pilates could really help. I’ve got her details and I hope I do actually book a session with her soon.

Lunch and meeting the experts again

After a very enjoyable lunch it was time to meet the experts again and I had a nice chat with Dr Patel, speaking about hbA1c checks and things like that. I’d briefly chatted with him earlier, finding out he trained with Dr Partha Kar and what a great Dr/guy he is. I tweeted Dr Kar who’d replied and said Dr Patel was in fact the legend. I found it so nice to see the mutual respect they had for each other.

Pick your stream

After lunch there were 3 streams to choose from: Increase Your Wellbeing; Looking After Your Eyes; Speed Dating for Type 1s.
I sent my Dad into the wellbeing stream whilst I attended the Type 1 stream, along with Helen from earlier and her friend.
In my stream were two Diabetes Specialist Nurses from Southampton. We had a good chat, especially about their lack of pump service and what they’re trying to do to get one.


The afternoon ended with a question and answer session with three people; Dr Mayank Patel; Jan Mitchell and Sarah Woodman.
I’d passed Sarah in the corridor and she smiled at me, I thought I knew her from somewhere but didn’t know where until I saw her on the stage. I’d met her a couple of weeks back at a DiabetesUK stand in a nearby supermarket. She’d promised to email me something, I never received it, I wondered if this could be a question I could put to her as part of the Q&A.
Okay, maybe not.

It’s all over

What a great day.
I’d learnt so much, networked so much and drank so much coffee. I’d met some wonderful people, many of which I’m sure to bump into again at future events.
More importantly my Dad had learned loads and picked up an Accu-chek Aviva meter which he intends to use to start monitoring his glucose levels, something he hasn’t done much in years. It was worth me going just to see this.


I’d like to thank DRWF for putting this event on and the other great work they do.

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7 Responses to DRWF Wellness Day South – 22nd June 2013

  1. Claire Levy says:

    Hi Kev,

    Thanks for a fantastic write up of the day and we’re so pleased both you and your dad got so much out of it. Looking forward to seeing you at the August events as well.

  2. Hi Kev

    Thank you for the great blog and feedback. I’m really pleased you decided to come to the Diabetes Wellness Day and it was really good to meet you, your dad Roy and step-mum Liz, if only for a brief hello and chat. You probably noticed that I didn’t get much time to stop. The events certainly keep me on the move. Luckily I had a nice chat with Roy when he visited me at our office a couple of weeks ago.

    Reading your blog gives me a great sense of satisfaction. It takes many months of careful planning and decisions to decide what the programme and day should include and what that year’s particular topics-of -focus will be, so I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m also happy to hear that you found it very relevant to yourself and daughter Amy. I have Type 1 Diabetes too and am incredibly conscious and mindful that all our events reflect this and are relevant to people with both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes of all ages and from all backgrounds. Not many people have vocally expressed that back to me, so thank you for noticing.

    I hope you decide to come again next year. The programme will be completely different again and there will be even more exciting and interesting things to learn about.

    All the best


    • kev says:

      Hi Lee, glad you liked the blog. I think it was very relevant to both Type 1 and Type 2, it’s just a shame that I hadn’t realised this before. I’d seen the promotional photos of the audience from last year and they were mainly 60, 70, 80 year olds. Sadly, even for me, I jumped at the wrong conclusion and thought it was geared towards type 2 diabetes. I was very wrong.

      Hope to see you at other events; I’ll come and have a chat at the next one…if you’re not looking so busy 🙂

  3. Kev, I’ll also send a link to your blog to my colleagues in the NHS who were instrumental in bringing the day together. I’m sure they would love to read it.

  4. Lesley says:

    Hi Kev
    Great write up! I’m glad you enjoyed the day, and our chat.
    Please share more about the pilates/frozen shoulder thing as I’m suffering too!

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