Are you a person with diabetes who has a BFF also living with diabetes?
(BFF = "Best friends forever," for those who didn't grow up with texting vernacular.)
And do the two of you want to share blood sugars, and other highs and lows of living with diabetes?
Well, now there's an app for that. It's called "Diabesties," as in best friends with diabetes, and it's a new creation from the College Diabetes Network (CDN), which facilitates groups at colleges, universities and some high schools for students with diabetes. (We introduced them a while back.)
The new "Diabesties" app is expected to debut in the iTunes store sometime this week, and it's the brainchild of Jo Treitman in Massachusetts, a fellow type 1 diagnosed at the end of her freshman year of high school in 2004.
While attending local Wellesley College in winter 2011, Jo came up with the concept with two of her D-peeps on campus, Natalie Benjamin and Sam (Samantha) Grossmith. They became the first "diabesties," not only sharing the college life experience but also holding each other accountable to healthy D-lives on campus. They did this by exchanging text messages with their blood sugar numbers or simply connecting over having a rough D-day or if one of them need help with supplies.
That idea grew beyond the trio, with more PWD students sending instant messages and texts encouraging friends to check their blood sugar, and flagging any issues for each other, until a campus-wide D-Community of support emerged.
Jo, Natalie and Sam then created a Facebook page called Diabesties (currently at 365 members) and added every young adult they knew living with type 1. The Facebook group allowed PWDs to connect with a "diabestie" and start texting and interacting.
After graduating, Jo joined CDN, where she now serves as program director along with founder and president Christina Roth. In the meantime, Jo's been working to further develop the "Diabesties" concept, and the result is this new app that CDN created along with social gaming company Ayogo (you may recognize them as developers of the Diabetes Hands Foundation's HealthSeeker game and app and SisterMatch for Diabetes Sisters).
Now, once users have found their diabesties, they can send blood sugar numbers and messages through the app, bypassing regular texting fees that would normally apply. All the BG data points and messages sent can also be logged into the cloud, for later access.
"Let's face it, there's something special about talking to another person with diabetes, who also deals with it every day, and just 'gets' it. As you get older, you don't want parents telling you what to do, so finding a 'diabestie' provides the peer support that
you actually want, and will actually listen to," a CDN statement says about the app.
The app will actually be free to users, and it's being paid for by third parties interested in funding the project!
Michael Fergusson, Ayogo's founder and CEO, offered some detail on how his company works with non-profits like CDN: "Ayogo has a social gamification platform, which we use as the foundation for a number of health-related projects, including several in the diabetes space. All of these applications are intended to be, and to remain, free to the end users. How we find the money to develop and operate these apps is through sponsorships, grants, and research funds that we procure to support our platform. This lets us effectively give our services to organizations like CDN, whom we are very proud to be able to support."
While it's been developed with students in mind, the app could in theory be used for anyone of any age with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, as well as in a way that non-D friends could get a snapshot of how a D-friend is doing — if so desired.
"These messages allow each diabestie to receive real-time peer support and troubleshooting so they never feel alone with their diabetes," the news release says.
Not feeling alone is always a value-add, in our book.