DxDublin 2018 Part Two ADVOCACY

As promised last week here is my DXDublin2018 post - part two because there was so much packed into these two days. The “dX” events were created by Abbott Diabetes Care to facilitate the exchange of ideas within the diabetes blogger community hence, Diabetes Community Exchange or “dX”. 

dXDublin was two very full days of workshops and presentations and, of course, exchanging ideas and stories with people living with type 1 diabetes from different countries. So as you can imagine I have a lot to write about and it’s difficult to know where to start. 

For part one with the Libre Update from Abbott see here.

Here's my Disclaimer again:

Abbott Diabetes Care paid for my accommodation, travel expenses and meals for the DxDublin event but did not ask me to blog about the event. All opinions are my own.


dXDublin Literary Walking Tour with Joe and his assistant... Me :-)

dXDublin Literary Walking Tour with Joe and his assistant... Me :-)

dX events usually begin with a tourist activity to give people a chance to explore the local area before we knuckle down to exchanging ideas. DxDublin began with an Literary Walking Tour of city centre with Joe and an umbrella. Of course, I appointed myself as “Associate Tour guide” and was proud to answer any questions I could while also volunteering random trivia such as this is the place I was working when I was diagnosed. 

Later Friday evening, we had a welcome reception where I was invited to share the Irish diabetes community story so far and a bit more trivia about Ireland. I think Failte Ireland would’ve been proud. We also formally introduced ourselves and our countries to each other. 

We began getting to know each other a little better on the rooftop bar overlooking Dublin city - I have to say it looked amazing as the sun began to set. 


Google Welcome

Google Welcome

Saturday began with a short walk over to Google's European headquarters for the mornings sessions. We were received with a thousand welcomes: from the stairs in front of the reception desk to the stairs into Google’s community space and the welcome dXDublin bloggers signs everywhere. 

"There are no stranger here; only friends you haven't met yet" WB Yeats

"There are no stranger here; only friends you haven't met yet" WB Yeats

The morning sessions included a Masterclass the “10 Fundamentals of a Creative YouTube strategy” with Vaso Kanistra, from YouTube, followed by, “Mobile Videos Made Easy”, a workshop with on making good quality videos in minutes with Media Management Consultant, Aileen O’Meara. This was very much a beginners course but one I absolutely needed and probably need more of, once I “get over myself”. Yes, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like looking at myself or hearing my own voice. Thankfully Aileen came prepared with a handy handout available from www.aileenomeara.ie

Next up, was one of those simple but eye opening sessions that gave me so much to think about - “7 Steps to Learning about your Audience using Social Listening” by Stephen O’Leary founder of Olytico, a digital data analysis company. He talked about how we can serve our communities better by paying attention to what people are talking about. And you don’t have to be on Twitter to know about what’s trending. Again, for me, this was such a hugely valuable presentation.

It’s also not every day a speaker does so much research into their audience (the first rule of speaking) and their social media that they can buy personalised gifts for three members of our group. 

AND to top it all off - he explained the “There’s one for everybody in the audience” significance!!! I know that most of the other bloggers probably still didn’t get it but it was a proud Irish moment for me. 


Our afternoon sessions took place at Airfield Farm, “Dublin’s only 38-acre working farm, and food destination”, where we had lunch and a tour of the garden.  


Then, we were introduced to Tiernan Brady, an international campaigner for LGBT rights and equality, Tiernan was involved in the Marriage Equality Campaign in Ireland in 2016, so first we watched a short uplifting video of the campaign.

Tiernan opened with “when we talk about human rights we tend to focus more on the word “rights” and forget about the word “human””. He taught me of the importance of not being an angry campaigner because if I do the people I’m trying to reach will not connect with me. The temptation can be overwhelming to fight with the other side but it’s much more productive to talk to each other. The following will be my mantras from now on: “Anger creates barriers.” “Don’t run down the rabbit holes.” 

Over the last eight years that I have been advocating for people with diabetes the same piece of advise comes up every time and it was a very, very important element in both the Marriage Equally and the Abortion referenda: Share Your Story. Your diabetes story is THE most important item in your advocacy toolbox. The difficult part is learning to tell it in a way that people listen AND hear it. 

It was such a moment of national pride for me when several people in the room told Tiernan how what Ireland had achieved in the Marriage Equality Campaign had influenced their own country in moving forward on this issue too. 


The next session is what I was leading up to the whole weekend. One and a half hours on our role as influencers and how we can use that for advocacy.This workshop was facilitated by broadcaster and journalist with a special interest in health science and technology, Jonathan McCrea. 

He started by asking us how we see ourselves as influencers? Of course none of us did! But as soon as one person said “I don’t see myself as an influencer” the response from another was “of course you are, look at what you write on your blog and all that you do?” So then we all had to admit that we are actually influencers, even if we’re uncomfortable with the description. It’s odd how we never saw this before. Another #GetOverYourself moment:-)

Then we discussed how this was a huge responsibility for all of us and does affect what we say and do. 

It was at this session that I was asked to share what we, the Irish Diabetes Community, have done so far in our campaign to widen access to the Freestyle Libre Reimbursement campaign. I was supposed to have an Irish Diabetes blogger partner in crime for the weekend but she had to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances at the last minute - I really wished she was there for this session, especially when I spoke about how powerful the Libre4All petition has been in our campaign. Salute to Davina Lyon!

Then the audience was asked questions about access to diabetes supplies and technology in their countries. 

I learned that in Brazil insulin is free but there are huge problems where there isn’t always insulin in the pharmacies when you go to collect your prescription. There is a similar situation in Poland and in addition to this I learned that adults with diabetes are not reimbursed for very much at all. Insulin pumps and test strips are all paid for by adults out of their own pockets. Blood glucose test strips cost approximately .75 cent in euros. 

France has reimbursement for everything at source like Ireland but are slow to include new technology in this. 

In Denmark each clinic has a very small budget for devices such as insulin pumps or CGM’s so only a select few receive them. And people with diabetes have no choice in blood glucose meters at all. 

There are a number of European countries who are, like Ireland, still fighting for Freestyle Libre reimbursement and of course, in the UK there’s a bit of a postcode lottery game going on. 


The last session of the day was short and sweet thankfully as the afternoon sun that was shining in on us was bring the temperature up quite a bit even though all the doors were wide open. It was hot! 

We were then introduced to the Manager for digital platforms at Abbott Diabetes Care, Laura Brander, who gave an excellent presentation on “Connectivity and Digital Health.” and how we can learn from it. 

She also told us that the LibreLink app was launched last February. And the advantage of the LibreLink app means that the reader is on your smartphone and you don’t have to buy it. So you scan with your smartphone, the scan uploads to LibreView in the cloud and is visible LibreLink up.

The LibreLink App also means that people who are visually impaired can now access blood glucose information by activating the voice on their phones.


West Manufacturing plant in Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin is Abbott’s manufacturing partner for producing the Freestyle Libre sensors. And we were granted special permission to be allowed to tour the plant and see how the sensors is assembled and packaged. 

The  factory is purpose built to manufacturing the Freestyle Libre and is just about fully complete but is manufacturing at full capacity since June. And yes, there were Sensors, sensors everywhere and just out of reach. 

Libre Papa, Scott House and Libre Papa, Jared Watkins who’ve been working and involved in the development of the Freestyle Libre since it was a twinkle in Abbott’s eyes shared with us how the Libre began, was realized and the amazing uptake that went beyond all expectations. 

You can read more about what the Abbott update included here in my last post
LINK but unfortunately i signed a non-disclosure agreement as a pre condition for the tour so I can’t share any of what I saw in the factory. 

And then it was all the goodbyes to fellow diabetes bloggers from all over the world and lots of new friends.