Dr Ponder’s Sugar Surfing Workshop at the JDRF Discovery Day

Dr Ponder's WorkshopIt’s taken me a lot longer to get started on this article than I would have liked but actually it’s done me a favour as Julia has already written a brilliant blog all about it, so I’d suggest you have a good read her article Sugar Surfing with Dr Stephen Ponder MD

So I won’t repeat what Julia’s written but just talk around some of the rest of the event…

The most eagerly awaited Discovery Day?

Over the last few weeks the buzz around last Saturday’s JDRF Discovery Day has been getting stronger and stronger, everyone excited to meet Dr Stephen Ponder in person and listen to his introduction to Sugar Surfing.

On Thursday after I’d interviewed Dr Ponder for Diabetes UK he asked me what to expect at the event and I told him:
“There’s a long waiting list for this event, people are travelling hundreds of miles, some are coming from France just for the day, Twitter and Facebook are buzzing. I expect that you won’t hear a pin drop during your presentation.”
He told me he was excited to be able to present to all of us.

Blasé about travel time

In true Winchcombe style we were running late which annoyed me as I had so many people I wanted to meet and chat with. I blame myself, this was my third time in London this week and it’s “just up the road” (80 miles).
This was the only downside to the day, I wish we’d left earlier so I could spend time chatting with people like Helen & Andy and especially Kevin and Julie as they’d both travelled from France – not together I hasten to add, just to dispel any rumours 😉

A Discovery Day like no other

On arrival we had to sign in, nothing unusual there, except we were in a long queue and there were hundreds of people. Immediately I spotted a few familiar faces whilst I looked around for those I’d been dying to meet; Kevin, Julie, Helen and the legendary Dave Berry. (Dave’s a legend amongst us Diabetes Dads on the CWD UK Dads Facebook group)
I’m sorry to all the people who came up or called out ‘Kev?’ if I didn’t recognise you immediately but my mind was a whizz playing a nanosecond game of ‘Guess Who?’.
In all honesty I really needed this Discovery Day to have about fifteen 30 minute coffee breaks in it, just to have time to talk to people.
It was a delight to hear the joyful screams of people who met for the first time, after keeping each other company through the dark times and middle-of-the-night glucose checks.
This is one hell of a community.

Before the start

I milled around chatting to some online friends I’d never met before, before I spotted Dr Ponder who was busy book signing. ‘Kev’ he said ‘how great to see you again’ which I guess means my interview with him a couple of days before didn’t go badly. Before he had chance to introduce me to his co-author Kevin McMahon they were all called in to the hall as everything was just about to start.
Luckily I found time to have a good chat with Kevin during the main interval, he’s a truly outstanding character with an all encompassing knowledge which stretches far further than mine and I’m a little envious of his endorsement from Scott Hanselman on LinkedIn. I wished we’d had more time to chat.

Feeling sorry for the first speakers

JDRF Discovery Days always have a couple of people speaking before the person who does the science bit and normally this works well but this time I felt sorry for them as in the nicest possible way the audience’s silent ‘Get off’ was deafening.
Elle Dormer was introduced and she spoke about how she had found Dr Ponder online, instantly connected with what he was saying, then attempted to get JDRF and Diabetes:UK involved. I’ve never met Elle before but I imediately took a shine to what she was saying and how she felt, that was until she had a dig at D:UK, I ain’t got time for that, it’s a pet hate of mine and others, because I know that they are the only charity truly able to provide personal support & assistance with school / legal issues for people with Type 1. I know that D:UK, due to personnel issues, had dropped the ball on this one and feel quite bad about it, perhaps Elle didn’t know that though.
Elle, if you’re (still) reading this can I personally thank you for all you’ve done to organise the events for Dr Ponder. You’ve done the community proud. Thank you.

The Sugar Surfing presentations

As Julia’s documented this so well please read her blog for more information: Sugar Surfing with Dr Stephen Ponder MD.

The ultimate way forward?

After my interview with Dr Ponder – or Steve as I like to call him now – on Thursday I was already totally sold on this being a good way forward if Amy chooses to want to do it. That’s why I took her there, so that she could find out information about other ways of dealing with her diabetes. For the record she didn’t really want to go, she had a million other things she’d rather do, as is the way with teenagers, but she went and learned quite a lot. On top of this it reinforced that the things she was doing already were good.
As a family we’ve looked into lower carb eating to minimise glucose spikes and it’s easy to see that it doesn’t suit Amy as a full time way of eating, therefore I see Sugar Surfing at the next best thing. In fact it’s clear to me that a relaxed combination of the two is a very good (but not the only) way forward.

The post-presentation buzz

So many people I spoke to at the event or online afterwards have said how much sense it all made, how there were doing some or all of the stuff already, how they can see that with only some minor changes their kid’s or own hBa1c’s could improve…although obviously whilst that’s a good measure it’s not the be all and end all.
I get the impression from some that they learned nothing, that they did all of this already and that’s great as that means they’ve been Sugar Surfing for some time, that they’ve realised that these little and constant adjustments work well.
For me Sugar Surfing tells us that it’s okay to do this, that we should experiment, that we should approach diabetes management with an agile mind, that we should find what works for us, that we can always learn and improve.
More importantly in confirms that concrete thinking is not the way forward.

Thank you

I’d like to personally thank Team Ponder (Dr Ponder, Kevin McMahon, Patsy, Mackenzie and others) for doing everything they’ve done to get Sugar Surfing in print and for the presentations given on Saturday.

And finally

If you’re interested in learning more about Sugar Surfing please visit SugarSurfing.com and join the Sugar Surfing UK Facebook group which James set up on Saturday.

A slidedeck similar to Saturday’s slides can be found here: Sugar Surfing Master Slide Deck August 27

Talking Sugar Surfing with Dr Stephen Ponder

What a week

duktweetIt’s been an amazing week of privileged invites and questions of ‘why me?’. Firstly, along with Amy I had the opportunity to be part of Dr Partha Kar’s session on transition at the National Paediatric Diabetes Team Meeting in Birmingham and yesterday I had the huge privilege of interviewing Dr Stephen Ponder on behalf of Diabetes UK. When Ruth, my Diabetes UK National Peer Support Manager, asked me if I’d be interested in being part of this I initially thought of refusing, surely there’s other peer supporters more suited but after a while I realised how suitable my experiences and knowledge were. So with nervous ‘Yes’ I signed up.

Meeting the team

Almost immediately my worrying mind was put to rest as I found out I’d be doing this with Diabetes UK National Care Advisor Chris Headland who’s a driving force behind the very successful #Type1Uncut team/videos.

Thinking of some questions…or rather sub-contracting the job

I’ve known about Dr Ponder’s Sugar Surfing for some time and have seen many posts on the Facebook page. Yet when faced with getting some questions together for the interview I felt I knew precious little so I turned to a friend from the Diabetes Online Community, Carolyn, who’s son has attended Dr Ponder’s Texas Lions Camp. Carolyn’s suggestions were great and with a few alterations formed the basis of much of the chat with Dr Ponder.

Obviously too excited

With the interview due to start at 11am I arrived a little earlier…about 2 hours early, I guess I was quite keen. Meeting Chris for the first time was like greeting an old friend, then all the Diabetes UK team and finally Dr Ponder. We chatted for a while about what we intended to do and what would happen next and afterwards just to make sure Dr Ponder was happy. He was.

Dr Ponder and me

A chat amongst friends

“Interview” seems like such a formal word, everyone seemed so relaxed I’d say it just felt like a chat between friends, with two friends captivated by every word their more worldly-wise friend said.
As Diabetes UK are going to release information and hopefully video footage with the next weeks I won’t go into detail about the questions we asked nor the answers Dr Ponder gave, just watch this space for more information.
Part way through the chat Carolyn tweeted to Diabetes UK and I made Dr P laugh when I asked D:UK to reply with a firm ‘No, we’re keeping him’.
Before I knew it two hours had flown by and it was sadly time for our chat to end, although Dr P and I kept chatting for a while longer.

Dr Ponder

I think I’m a pretty good judge of character, I can spot an idiot mile off, self-centered people last minutes before I discount them, people with ulterior motives can’t hide it for long. On the other hand the good folk out there just leap up in front of my eyes.
I could be wrong about this but I’m willing to stake my neighbour’s house – not mine just in case I’m wrong – on the fact that you’re unlikely to meet a nicer chap than Dr Ponder.
He seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make other peoples’ lives better and now with Sugar Surfing he appears to be branching out worldwide.
Of course none of this should be any surprise to me as Carolyn has been saying this for ages and I judge that she’s a pretty good judge of character too.

Sugar Surfing

(For some actual information about what Sugar Surfing is check out these slides.)
As Dr Ponder explained how Sugar Surfing came about I found myself nodding with every word and it soon became clear that this was something we’ve been waiting for. Yes, we’ve been doing things like pre-bolusing, super-bolusing, microdosing, microcarbing occasionally for a while but all by trial and error – mainly error. Amy has previously under her own steam bolused for dinner and waited until at the lower end of her range before eating.
Chatting about the lag of CGM, the lag of insulin, the working time of insulin, watching the CGM curves to bottom or top out I realised we were a family that could probably jump straight in to try Sugar Surfing for real.
Here with the Sugar Surfing book in my hand we had a training guide that no-one had offered us before.

It’s time to start reading that book but not before tomorrow when I have the pleasure of attending the JDRF Discovery Day in London and listening to Dr Ponder for a few more hours, something I’m really looking forward too.