mySugr logoClose side menu

Download and try it now!

  • Get it on Google Play
  • Download at the App Store
Country selection
Country selection inactive
  • Selected Global


  • Selected Germany


  • Selected USA


Language selection
Language selection inactive
  • Selected English


Being a climber and checking blood sugars!

5/30/2019 by Scott Johnson

Being a climber and checking blood sugars!

Many of us at mySugr have diabetes, which helps us understand all too well what it’s like and what helps. But not everyone in the company! We also have some great people without diabetes...

Today I sit down with our Senior Art Director, Ryan O’Connor. He’s done something special recently to better understand what it’s like to live with diabetes and what would be most helpful. We all learned a few things along the way!


  • Ryan's experiment
  • How blood sugar checking affected his recreational activities
  • What other thoughts that brought up for the rest of us


Scott Johnson: What's up, monster tamers? Welcome to another episode of “Live, with Scott!” Thank you so much for tuning in.

Scott Johnson: My name is Scott Johnson. I've been living with diabetes since I was five years old. And the diabetes social media space ... that's you, by the way, has been an important part of my well-being for a long, long time. Thanks so much for helping me along.

Scott Johnson: As your host today, I am thrilled to connect you with my friend and coworker here at mySugr US, Ryan O'Connor. While we get going, please share a quick hello in the comments. Let me know where you're watching from. I'd appreciate that and would love to say hello. S

cott Johnson: Today's episode is sponsored by the mySugr Bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support and more, all for just $49 per month.

Scott Johnson: Now, more on today's guest. Ryan O'Connor is the Senior Art Director here at the mySugr US office. And one of the things that makes him great at what he does is his desire to understand what living with diabetes is like. At least, as best as he's able to. And that's what we're talking about today. Let's dive right in.

Scott Johnson: Alright, so who are you?

Ryan O’Connor: I am Ryan O'Connor.

Scott Johnson: And what do you do here?

Ryan O’Connor: I am the Senior Art Director for the US mySugr.

Scott Johnson: You make everything look nice for us.

Ryan O’Connor: I make everything look nice.

Scott Johnson: It's one of the things you do.

Ryan O’Connor: Yes.

Scott Johnson: One of the many, many things you do. Tell me about your shirt.

Ryan O’Connor: My shirt is a play on a popular climbing brand. So, we'll see if anybody gets it.

Scott Johnson: Alright. Alright. That's a pop quiz for you guys out there. So now, you don't have diabetes, but for the past few weeks, you've been checking your blood sugars.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah.

Scott Johnson: Tell me a little bit about what that's all about.

Ryan O’Connor: So basically, part of my role here is to design material for people with diabetes, type one and type two. And as many of us work here, I've got a pretty good insight into what their journey with diabetes looks like. But everybody here, they have it figured out. I've seen their highs and lows of managing diabetes. But I wanted to know what it was like to just get started. And designing the communications around that, to just make it more effective for people. And it was a learning curve, definitely.

Scott Johnson: Yeah. I think it's very cool that you're interested and willing to do that. So thank you for doing that. One of the things you discovered fairly early on, was that in your ... One of your favorite things to do recreationally is climbing.

Ryan O’Connor: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Johnson: And you found that that had a play into this experiment.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah. So, climbing, you use your hands. Checking blood sugar, you poke holes in your hands. So, those didn't mix well. And as far as ... I had a big issue testing, because of calluses, and just getting enough blood. So I had to find these soft spots. And at the end of the day, I would go climb. And as I'm holding my body weight on a small little crimp, it just hurt 10 times more, because of all the testing. And so, that was a big learning, as far as how it impacted me, where I could test to make it less of a burden on climbing.

Scott Johnson: And also to work. To actually perform a successful blood glucose test, right?

Ryan O’Connor: Exactly.

Scott Johnson: I think that's super interesting. I think that we ... Those of us who have checked blood sugars for so long, we don't think much about, "Okay, my fingers ..." I'm not a climber. So my fingers ... I'm not experiencing the difficulty getting through the climbing calluses. Maybe have blood sugar checking calluses, but not climbing calluses. But also, the fact that the pokes on your fingers were making climbing ... Like, you were thinking about that while you were climbing.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah.

Scott Johnson: Uncomfortable.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah, and also, it made me think about if I tested too close to climbing. Climbing is kind of a dirty sport, and how do you keep that clean, and not get infections? Things like that.

Scott Johnson: Yeah, right. Did you have any ... So let me preface this question by saying I've had experiences where I've poked my finger once, and I'll actually get the blood sample from a poke that I did, even earlier. Did you have any experiences climbing, where you started ... all of a sudden you're leaking out of your fingers?

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah. Yeah. There were a few times that I left some spots on the wall.

Scott Johnson: Yeah? Literally leaving your blood, sweat, and maybe even tears, depending on ... Ryan O’Connor: Yeah.

Scott Johnson: It's crazy. I also enjoyed, after some of these experiences, we started thinking together in the office, about everyone out there. Climbers, of course. So one question is, for all the climbers out there, what has your experience been around this? And have you found methods to deal with it? Or do you just kind of tolerate it and get used to it?

Scott Johnson: So we'd love to hear about that. But the other thing that we started talking about is, all these other professions and recreations, that this would play into it.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah. As far as really opening up the empathy for putting myself in the perspective of how this affects people's daily lives. It really was eye-opening.

Scott Johnson: Yeah. Some of the things that we talked a little bit about were healthcare providers. Right? So you mentioned keeping the finger poke wounds clean, and stuff like that. And then you imagine immersing yourself into a potentially dangerous situation. No idea if that's a thing or not, to be worried about. But if I were in that situation, it probably would cross my mind.

Scott Johnson: Another question for you folks out there. Let us know, has something like that crossed your mind before? Or are we just overthinking things here?

Scott Johnson: But then we talked about mechanics or all these other ... musicians, guitar players, and stuff like that, where it can have a big impact.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I think it's anything where you're really either strongly using your fingers, or using fine motor skills with your fingers. I could really see that impact.

Scott Johnson: Yeah.

Ryan O’Connor: I would love to know more, of how it affects people.

Scott Johnson: As would I.

Ryan O’Connor: And where you test. Where're the best spots?

Scott Johnson: We talked a little bit about doing some of the alternate site testing on the forearms, but we didn't have the right lancing covers for that. So I know that's something I've seen talked about before, but I think I've just got soft recreation skills. I don't need to climb walls or anything like that. So I haven't thought much about this, personally. So I thought it was really, really interesting to think about that.

Scott Johnson: Anything else I haven't asked about, or that you want to talk about in this? This is ...

Ryan O’Connor: No, I think that's a good insight into that experience testing. I was really trying to utilize the mySugr app, and try to generate my a1c, and just go through the daily pains of "When do I check?" And, "How do I schedule that with my meals?" Or, "How do I even remember?" It was super good learning.

Scott Johnson: So, a question just comes to mind. Did you see anything interesting with your blood sugars? Or were they pretty well ...?

Ryan O’Connor: I don't think I have diabetes. They were pretty ... They were pretty flat. So yeah. No, that was ... Yeah. I got a couple "Must be nice" comments when I was testing in the office, so I think I'm pretty set.

Scott Johnson: Good. Good. That's good. Well, thank you again for doing that. I think that's big, as someone that doesn't have to stab yourself with something sharp and bleed on things, to do that willingly for the sake of a mission. We appreciate that. So thank you.

Ryan O’Connor: Yeah. And any ideas anybody has on other situations that you think are unique to you or affect being able to check regularly, as a designer, I'd be super interested in what those are. And solutions around it.

Scott Johnson: Yeah. And to add onto that question, I'd also be interested to think about what other professions or hobbies that didn't cross our minds? What are all those things out there, that you guys are doing, where you find that actually checking your blood sugar is even more unpleasant than it already has to be? Let us know. All right. Thank you.

Ryan O’Connor: Alright. Thank you.

Scott Johnson: Alright. There you have it. What did you think about that chat with Ryan? I, for one, was super interested to hear about his experiences, because I think after some time, it just gets so numb to the experience of checking my blood sugar, that I don't think about those things that someone new to checking blood sugars, or someone who experiences ... Ryan was climbing, and was experiencing super discomfort, both with performing a successful blood glucose check, but also, it was really bothering his climbing. Really was top of mind for him.

Scott Johnson: Let us know. We'd really love to hear more about your experiences checking blood sugars and poking your fingers, and how that impacts other areas of your life. Alright?

Scott Johnson:  Once again, today's episode is sponsored by the mySugr Bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support, and more, all for just $49 per month. Learn more at

Scott Johnson: And then, be sure to tune in next week, where I catch up with my friend Bill, who I met at last year's AADE's annual conference in Baltimore.

Scott Johnson: He's an Engineer with the federal government in Washington, D.C. area. Bill's in his 50s and was recently diagnosed with type two diabetes, and since his diagnosis, he's been dedicated to eating well, taking his meds, and exercising regularly. Bill's active on Twitter and Instagram and hopes to one day start a blog about living well with type two diabetes.

Scott Johnson: I'm excited to catch up with him, and share his story about revolutionizing what we see in the diabetes online space with you, and share his story with you, as well. Alright?

Scott Johnson: Thank you so much for joining today. If you haven't already, please give us a like. Share this video with your friends. Have another amazing day, and I'll see you next week.

Scott Johnson

Almost famous for his addiction to Diet Coke, Scott has lived well with diabetes for almost forty years and is currently the Patient Engagement Manager, USA for mySugr. He's been an active pioneer in the diabetes social media space for more than fifteen years and manages his award-winning blog, when time allows.

Sign up to our newsletter and learn with mySugr.