|Boston Creme Pie for tourists!|
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!
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.