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Posts from the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Six Until Me

This month, I’m going to present about a dozen of famous medical bloggers to you. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. The second blogger in this series is Kerri Morrone at Six Until Me who has been blogging about her fight with diabetes since 2005.

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  • You’re the only patient blogger in this series, because no one could do it more professionally. Own design, own system. Do the other patients appreciate what you’ve done through your blog?

Producing the content for Six Until Me has been completely fun. Writing comes naturally to me. Designing and maintaining the website myself has been a bit more of a challenge. (Like when my blog ate it’s own archives and refused to allow me to access the blogging platform. I think I made up my own curse words that day.) Forcing my brain to think in terms of webdesign and coding is completely against my nature. If I could use crayons and draw directly on my computer screen, I would. :)

Other people living with diabetes have been wonderfully supportive of my efforts with Six Until Me. I started this blog because I felt I was the only diabetic for miles – blogging helped me connect with others and feel less alone with my disease. The impact on my health and my life in general has been tremendous. So when you ask, “Do other patients appreciate what you’ve done,” I can’t help but counter back with – “Do they know how much I appreciate them?”

  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

I am the biggest blog-hopper in town. I built my blogroll so I could click like a little rabbit all over the blogosphere. I usually check about 20 – 30 diabetes-related sites a day but often find myself over in a completely random, non-diabetes related corner of the internet. I network through a collection of over 250 diabetes-specific sites, touching any given number of them on any day.

As far as information for my blog goes, I subscribe to several diabetes newswires for my job at dLife, so I have access to much of the latest in diabetes news. Most of my blog material, however, comes straight from my daily life with diabetes. When you are living with a disease like diabetes, which requires daily maintenance and vigilance, you can’t help but stumble upon plenty of life experience to blog about.

  • You maintain a Your Story section (web 2.0 rules!) where the readers can send you their stories. How often do you get a story? Do you have to moderate any?

I receive several Your Story segments a week – it’s truly an honor and a pleasure to be able to bring the experiences of other people onto my blog. I hear from the parents of kids with diabetes, people living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, people who have a loved one with diabetes, and even just those who have stumbled across the blog and are just plain curious. The range of voices is incredible.

As far as editing, I don’t edit the stories (unless there is a glaring typo or something that is intended for my eyes only) and instead give the writers complete storytelling freedom. It is their story, after all.

  • Do you know why some of the physicians are afraid of patient bloggers? Because they could write about or rate them. Do you write about your doctor?

The best part of being a blogger is that the only force editing me is me. :) Blogs, particularly patient-authored blogs, are some of the most honest accounts of health conditions on the internet. We are the faces of these diseases, the target markets for so many advertisers, and points of solace for people who are sharing our common bond. Write about a doctor? Sure. I’m honest, but fair.

  • You maintain a great Flickr photo collection, you tell you readers about your fights with diabetes. Aren’t you afraid of making your life totally public?

Ah, but that’s the tricky part – my life isn’t totally public. There are so many parts of my life that never even whisper close to Six Until Me. I share so many of my experiences with diabetes, but my whole life isn’t diabetes. Some bits of my life are just for me. :)

  • Do you get e-mails from companies working on diabetic tools/services?

I receive correspondence from several companies and focus groups working on diabetes-specific tools and services. I feel very lucky to have access to this burgeoning technology and I enjoy reviewing products, assisting design teams, and doing whatever I can to help soldier on towards a cure and contribute to a better life for people with diabetes.

As a patient with a chronic illness, I am responsible for much of my disease management. Sure, my doctors offer tools and medical tests, but the day-to-day management of diabetes remains my responsibility. From tesing my blood sugar several times a day to priming my insulin pump, the maintenance tasks of diabetes require a lot of my attention. Web 2.0 – specifically HealthWeb 2.0 – gives a web-savvy patient access to disease management tools that can make diabetes daily management a bit easier. And I’m all for anything that makes diabetes a bit easier to deal with. :)

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

I started Six Until Me in May of 2005 because I was tired of Googling “diabetes” and coming up with little more than a list of complications and frightening stories. Where were all the people who were living with this disease, like I have been since I was a little girl? Was I the only diabetic out there who felt alone?

Blogging helped me find the others out there who were living with diabetes, just like me.

I’m excited to expand the blog to include more voices from the diabetes community, raising awareness and sharing their stories. Blogging, for me, is about connecting with other people, finding hope and inspiration within our own diabetes lives.

Thank you Kerri for being so kind and helpful during the interview. You’re one of, if not the best example for patient bloggers. Check out Six Until Me for more infos on diabetes!

Interviews so far:

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Over My Med Body!

As I promised, I’m going to present about a dozen of famous medical bloggers to you this month. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. I start my series with Graham Walker, a medical student and the blogger of Over My Med Body!.

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  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

Oh boy. Yeah, I use bloglines–otherwise I’d have no way to keep up.

My main sources for my blog:
1) My own thoughts/issues/ideas that come up while in the process of seeing patients or discussing their care;
2) Discussions with classmates about being a doctor/caring for patients
3) Other medical blogs
4) The New York Times
5) Medical Journals and other magazines
6) Other blogs that happen to post health-related stories

I track probably about 20ish medical blogs, but then also read many, many more in other areas: web design/development, humor/weird internet stuff, news sites.

  • You’re a medical student just like me. I know how hard it is to find time to maintain your blog. How can you handle it?

It’s actually often therapeutic for me–releasing all the thoughts I’ve had built up for a while–often this is why I’ll go for a week or two without posting much, and then write a ton all at once. On busy rotations, I will often have a TON to post about but just not the time to do so–or I have so much reading to do and things to learn about that I don’t get to it, either.

  • You’re in your third year, so you surely know what kind of medical specialty you’re most interested in. Tell us please!

I’m actually in my 5th year (I need to update that about me page!) of med school. At Stanford we’re kind of weird in that most of us take an extra year to do research. So I’m in my final clinical year–and I’m going into Emergency Medicine. Currently preparing my residency application.

  • Why don’t you publish your name on your blog?

I’ve posted it on occasion–and it was printed in the US News article, so I’m not particularly anonymous. If you google my name, my site is usually the first or 2nd link–so it’s no secret where I am or who I am–it just takes a little more work, I guess.

Yeah, I put that together summer after my first year of medical school.

  • Do your fellow medstudents know about your blog? I’m often asked whether my professors like my blog. I always say I’m pretty sure they don’t even know about it. So do your professors appreciate the work you’ve done through your blog?

My classmates will read from time to time, and mention a particular post in passing. I’m sure an attending or two has seen my blog, but I don’t really know what they thought of it. The usual reaction is just a fairly passive, “Oh, interesting.”

  • In Second Life, in the Ann Myers Medical Center, a medical student can participate in training exercises, case presentations. Would you be interested to learn from physicians and with medical students from around the world? Do you think it can have an impact on the future of medical education?

I don’t know–I’m not as excited as others may be–I could see it perhaps being useful for clinicians around the world to communicate or interact, but I have so much learning and knowledge to acquire in the real world (and I personally acquire it much better with actual patients than with case presentations) that I wouldn’t be too interested. But for other students that don’t have as much access to quality teaching and education, I can see how it might be very useful!

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

That’s a great question. Residency is going to suck, and be super time-consuming, so we’ll just have to see what happens. And I’ll officially be a hospital employee, instead of a medical student, so I’m not sure what my future residency director will think. For right now, I’m thinking that it may disappear, or at least go into hibernation–I may start focusing more of the site on my photography. Who knows.

Thank you, Graham, for the kind answers! Check out his blog for more!

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