Interview with Mike Young

On November 7, 2011 by Cherise Shockley

Last week,  Mike Young announced a project he created  to help spread global diabetes awareness and to capture people living with diabetes, titled “Diabetes 11.11.11″.   I  love the concept and meaning- fantastic idea.   I’m glad Mike agreed to answer a few questions about himself and the Diabetes 11.11.11 project.


Interview with Mike Young from Spain

Cherise:  When were you diagnosed with diabetes? What signs did you have?

Mike: I was admitted to the Diabetes Hall of Fame on April 23rd 1998.  I was at the time working for a well known UK bank in Bristol, UK.  Looking back on things I would imagine that I had signs for quite a few weeks such as extreme tiredness, excessive thirst and loss of weight together with a general feeling of unwell.  My colleagues at the time saw how well I was feeling and pushed for me to see my family doctor.  My doc caught on to this before me and before I had chance to tell her how many symptoms I had she ordered to try and pee for her.  I quick pee test confirmed what she had suspected.  Armed with a letter, I was told to get myself to the ER asap.  As I arrived I was met my a team of docs from the ER who knew I was on my way. 3 days later I emerged about to embark on my Pancreatically Challenged apprenticeship! :)


Cherise: What is your  life like being pancreatically challenged in Spain?

Mike: Overall life in Spain with Diabetes is pretty good.  We get similar challenges with regards to healthcare like many other European countries and of the USA.  Spain by nature is very bureaucratic and that presents challenges in everyday life let alone having Diabetes to throw in to the mix.    One of the trickier situations to deal with is sometimes the heat.  During the summer it is generally very hot 24/7 which once adjusted can be dealt with, however a challenge arises during the winter, spring and autumn months where you can sometimes face varying temperatures where they start out nice and cool and by 2/3pm over 25º c.  Rates of absorption change throughout the day so you have be on guard.  Much is said about the Mediterranean diet not only in Spain but also throughout Europe. Unfortunately this diet is in decline which the maze of fast food restaurants springing up throughout Spain.  It instill very much part of the culture to dine with friends and family but the dietary habits are certainly shifting.  As a general guide I see my Endo at least 4 times a year and blood work is normally drawn for at least 3 of the visits.  The nearest Diabetes Specialist clinic is located in another city and are the ones who look after those that are pumping.


 Cherise: What motivated you to start writing and twitting global diabetes news and resources?  How do you keep up with everything?

Mike: I’ve been doing internet related things for a few years but strangely it took me until 2009 to do anything Diabetes related.  Like many,  I started out by looking for information on the internet and could not find what I was looking for.  It coincided with a new consultant Endocrinologist who was more technology aware that others that I had seen in the past and I just started it up.  Primarily to be a resource for those that live in Spain and for those that visit Spain on vacation.  I tend to track things within the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) with a mountain of RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter lists.  I find that even one day away from the screen results in missing parts of the DOC action.  I find that those 3 avenues cover most bases.  Being this side of the pond, and especially in Spain it is quite easy to lose track; pretty much everything is online.  Jealous of your location and being able to meet up with some many great people from the DOC.



Cherise:  How did you come up with the Diabetes 11.11.11 Project?

Mike: Well I happened to surfing the interweb as you do and came across the One Day on Earth project via the guys at I was reading about the project on the Monday morning and it suddenly hit me!  I thought,  ”Wow, what a cool project.”  I kinda like photography so combining a snapshot of the world with diabetes in one day would be a great opportunity to again join together, have some fun and raise awareness of Diabetes. I also feel that if this project works well, I can take it further with a 12.12.12 next year and have a whole year to organize!


Cherise:   How can the global diabetes community participate? can caretakers and spouses participate?

Mike: I’m trying to encourage people with diabetes to share their perspective of D.  This naturally involves friends and family so a 100% yes.  Of the many ideas I think perhaps pictures of them taking part in the Big Blue Test or a snapshot of their normal day to day activities with D. It is also a way to get a message across so some form of message is also encouraged.  I am also looking to accept videos, too.  I guess it comes down to the individual or group and what they feel comfortable doing.  The D-World is their Oyster as they say!  Anything (within reason) goes!  I have also been in contact with organizations such as the IDF and have encouraged them to submit images of the teams or individuals that we as a DOC converse with daily.  Trying to put a face to the name. :)


Cherise:  Where can people upload their images or videos?

Mike: People can upload the images directly via the website –  – There is a form that people can submit for their image.  Alternatively, they can head straight over to the Flickr group and participate that way or they can even use twitter, which make a great way to share a snapshot perhaps taken with your phone and all they have to do is tag it with #diabetes111111-I’ll do the rest!  :)


Cherise: Once the images and videos are collected will “Project Diabetes 11.11.11″ be available for the public to view and share?

Mike: Absolutely yes!  I will be looking to create something that I can share with everyone by the 14th.  My thoughts are at the moment that it will be a couple of things such as a Collage and a short video/slide show. Something nice though for sure and something that I hope everyone will share and feel that they made a contribution to.


Cherise:  What is the one thing you want people to take away from project Diabetes 11.11.11?

Mike: Aside from the whole raising awareness campaign I would like for everyone to feel that are part of a wider community than they imagined.  To feel that with that image they have contributed to something special.  I also want it to highlight that we are all essentially the same.  We test, we inject, we bolus, and do many similar things around the world.  So that someone in Australia can see that someone in Germany uses the same pump or meter.  So that someone in LA can see that someone else in the DOC loves to go Mountain Biking.  To feel that they belong in the DOC, breaking down barriers and allowing those that might not participate in some activities online to do so with this one.


Mike, Thank you for your time! Diabetes 11.11.11. is an amazing way to bring global awareness through the eyes of people living with diabetes and their loved ones and great way to educate the public about diabetes.  I’m going to participate. I hope you will, too!

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