My world is the patient world, the Person With Diabetes world. So when I decided to attend the AADE Annual Meeting this year, I was a little bit nervous. Sure, I've been to plenty of conferences. But they have all been geared towards patients. This conference was different. This was my first diabetes conference that was geared towards health care professionals. I’d be in a whole different world than the one I’m used to. I worried that maybe I wouldn’t fit in, and maybe I would feel like I was intruding. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The sessions I attended reminded me that there is a whole group of people out there that want to help us live the best lives we can. They want to help us get the tools we need to thrive - and there was recognition that our tools are both physical and emotional. It’s hard to pick a favorite session because they were all so good. But I think I’ll go with “Culinary Medicine Helps Overcome Hurdles to Healthy Eating" presented by Leah Sarris, Program Director for the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. I loved hearing about programs in which patients come in and learn how to make healthy foods that are less expensive and quicker to prepare than zipping through the drive-thru. It’s easy to see that learning these skills sets a patient up for much more success than sending them home with a vague order to “eat more lean protein and vegetables”.
I also spent a little time at the DiabetesSisters booth and I was thrilled to see how excited the CDEs I spoke to were about the peer support we provide. I’m always careful to explain that our PODS meetings don’t include any medical advice, but everyone I spoke with understood that already. I didn’t need to explain myself or the things I write about or volunteer for. I was just welcomed and accepted as part of this conference, and it felt great.
I’ve come away considering the patient world vs the HCP world. Hours put in to managing diabetes. Knowledge learned and shared. A desire to make tomorrow better than today. Which world am I referring to? That of the patient or that of the educator?
The answer is both. When what I thought of as two worlds collided, I saw it isn’t about the PWD world and the CDE world. It’s about the world we share together. And I’m happy to have so many talented educators out there, dedicated to making our journey through this life with diabetes as successful as possible. Thank you, #AADE16, for making a first timer feel like she fit right in.
(Okay, okay, it wasn’t all sessions and education. Just as with patient-centric conferences, there was time for some silly fun too . . . . . )