Monday, April 19, 2010

Here WEGO to Boston . . .

Boston Creme Pie for tourists!
Okay, okay, forgive the goofy post title. Hopefully that little picture of my awesome dessert will pull you in - even if Pete did tease me about ordering the most touristy cake going!  The trip to Boston wasn't all about creme pies though, the highlight was the WEGO Health Activist Meetup.

I’ll admit I was nervous before the meetup. I didn’t know anyone else who was attending – which is not an easy thing for me. Upon arrival, I pinned on my name tag and did what any shy girl does when entering a room full of people she’s never met before. I headed to the bar to get a glass of wine. Then I was asked to do a brief on-camera interview. Yikes, the nerves really set in and I’m sure I babbled like an idiot. Hopefully the wonders of editing will hide that to some extent!

Once the torture interview was over, I started to mingle. It didn’t take long for me to feel extremely glad that I decided to attend the meetup. I met some of the WEGO crew, all of whom were so friendly and enthusiastic and put me at ease right away. The other meetup attendees were just as friendly and were so interesting that I quickly forgot to be nervous. Soon the mingling and networking was put on hold so we could all introduce ourselves and describe ourselves with three made-up Twitter hashtags. (I know, fun idea, right? Feel free to leave your three hashtags in the comments - I'd love to hear them!) I have to admit, I felt pretty out of my league standing next to activists who had written books, started foundations and more! My hashtags? #T1Diabetes #knitter (but you saw that coming, right) and #shy (saw that one coming too, huh?) There were a few hashtags I could easily have stolen though – like #chocolate #cats and #salsadancing (or the broader #ballroomdancing).

Next we split up into breakout sessions. I chose “The Road to Activism: How to Turn Your Passion into Activism”, which Laurie did a terrific job running. The first thing we talked about was that ah-ha moment when we realized we were health activists. Everyone got a chuckle when I said my ah-ha moment was when I got invited to that very event – and I still wasn’t even sure if my invite was sent by mistake. But as we talked, I started to realize that each and every one of us in the D-OC is a health activist. We share information through our blogs and tweets. Our thoughts on diabetes products (and what we think would make them better) could possibly be read by the companies making those products. By simply sharing our frustrations and triumphs, we are giving support to others. That’s when I had my real ah-ha moment. I remembered that post I wrote about the scary-bad low. And I thought about the comments and tweets I received from moms of diabetics thanking me for giving them a little more insight into what a low can feel like. And I thought about Colleen, who has been diagnosed with T1 as an adult.  She left a comment telling me she was printing that post out and making her husband read it in case the day comes when she has her first scary-bad low. I thought about how thrilled I am if just one post I write can help someone. And I realized that maybe that’s what being an activist is all about.

Before I knew it, the time had flown by and our breakout sessions joined back together. Each group shared three major points we were taking away with us. But I found I was taking away much more. I was so inspired by the amazing things that the people I met are doing! I feel like I want to, and can, do so much more as well. I may not yet know what it’s going to be or how I’m going to get there – but I’m ready to start finding my way.

In the end, I realized how much I had in common with all of these people I was meeting for the first time. Diabetes may be an “invisible” disease, unless you spy my pump or see me doing a finger stick. But as I looked around the room, I realized that the vast majority of chronic illnesses are invisible. Anyone who walked into our room would not have seen diabetics, cancer survivors, people recovering from eating disorders or battling sickle cell disease, people who have been in and out of hospitals more times than they can count. No, anyone walking into our room would have seen a group of happy people chatting and laughing and bonding. Because that’s exactly what we were.


  1. Sounds awesome! I need to find stuff like that in my area to attend. Sounds so great.

  2. I'm glad you went! I'm glad you had a good time. I am not good with not knowing anyone either, so I totally understand your being #shy. I'm the same way.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic time, especially with the company and speakers you met. :)

  4. Karen, so glad you joined us and added a LOT to the conversation. You may need to drop "#shy" for "#HealthActivist"...

  5. Well, rats - I was going to say the same thing. Maybe you're just not so shy anymore, especially when it comes to something you're passionate about.
    Thanks for telling us about the meeting!

  6. That sounds like an incredible time! I'm so glad you went.

    I often find myself not wanting to go to stuff, but then really enjoying mysel once I'm there.

  7. Great story. I hadn't equated my own blogging with health activism before, but now I realize that I'm a health activist through my ebook and blog. I want to raise awareness in the general public about disease prevention.

    How would I describe myself with 3 hashtags? #purposefulthinking #healemotionalblocksfirst #dancelikenooneswatching

  8. Thanks for sharing. I so wished I could have been there and it is wonderful to hear about your experience. I can really relate to so much of what you have said in this post!

    Keep sharing!

    Amy K #healthactivist #mhsm #wegohealth =)

  9. For a shy girl you did great.

  10. Great post, and indeed, I would have had no idea you were #shy once we started talking. Plus, you can add #knowledgeableaboutknitting as a hashtag--I thought what you said about meeting knitters in person, versus meeting health activists in person, was interesting.


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