Thursday I boarded the plane I was so nervous to board and flew out to Los Angeles for the Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum - in which Medtronic invited a group of people from the Diabetes On-Line Community to their headquarters for a conference. Yesterday I did it all in reverse to come back home. I stared out the window or read my book and tried to think of wide open spaces whenever I started feeling cramped. It wasn’t that bad. And even if the flight had measured up to my worst fear, it still would have been worth it when I factored in the experiences that awaited me in California.
I’m spending today unpacking and organizing my luggage. And I’m also unpacking and organizing my thoughts. It is unbelievable how much I had the good fortune to experience in such a short time. I won’t lie, I was nervous when I left - and not just about the flight. I was nervous about the people I’d be meeting and the sessions I’d be attending. What if I sounded like an idiot or totally embarrassed myself? Well, okay, I guess I did just that when the topic came up about how floppy the Minimed CGM is - before rational thought kicked in I found myself hopping up in front of a room full of Medtronic employees and my peers and flashing my upper butt cheek to show how the sensor and transmitter need to be completely taped down. (Note to self: it’s best to keep your butt cheeks covered in public!!) Hopefully I also contributed some useful insights along with my public nudity.
So yes, I was nervous. But here’s the thing . . . the Medtronic employees seemed nervous too. They genuinely wanted to make sure the forum was beneficial to us and that we weren’t bored and yawning half way through our day. (We weren’t - each and every speaker was fabulous, every employee I met rocked and the tour of the sensor factory was fascinating). They made snacks and beverages available to us all day. We were encouraged to get up and take a break any time we needed to - they even had some rooms set aside with computers and phones if we needed to check in on our lives back home. They admitted they worried about trying to pack too much into our day - and we admitted the day seemed to fly by and we would’ve loved to have had more time! As I mentioned when I spoke on the WEGO Socialpalooza panel, I believe both patients and pharma / medical tech companies will benefit from two-way interaction. The Diabetes Advocate Forum made that belief even stronger.
My two days in L.A. also strengthened my belief that the D-OC is amazing! I was lucky to connect with some old friends, meet some on-line friends in person for the first time, and get to know some great people I hadn’t had much contact with before. My two days in L.A. were also pretty exhausting, so I was glad to spend some down time on Saturday seeing a few sights. I also want to mention that the Hotel Palomar and their staff were fabulous and really go out of their way to make sure their guests are comfortable. I was even encouraged to go behind the front desk at 4:45 am and help myself to coffee while I waited for my ride to the airport.
So now I’m back home, trying to sort out my suitcase and my experiences. K.C. is showing how much she missed me be sticking to me like glue, gazing at me as if to make sure I’ve really come back to her, and taking every opportunity she can to give me kitty kisses and nuzzles. Pete seems just as happy to have me back - although he has kindly refrained from following me around the house and staring at me when I’m not looking. Once I catch up with them and pour over the notes I took during the Forum I’ll have a lot more to share with you. And yes, I did take notes, pages and pages of notes . . . it was almost like I was back in college!!
Disclosure: Medtronic paid for my flight to and from L.A., for two nights in the hotel, and for my meals on Thursday and Friday. I was not asked to blog or tweet, and my opinions are my own. My decision to stay an extra day for sight-seeing was also my own and paid for by me . . .. or more accurately, paid for by my wonderful husband since I’m still unemployed at the moment.
Tongue-in-cheek disclosure: As I finish this post, I find my blood sugar is “scary low” (a.k.a. “low low”, a.k.a. “holy crap, meter, are you really telling my my blood sugar is 35?”). So perhaps this is all just a foggy low-blood sugar hallucination.