Thursday, July 28, 2016

Diabetes Around the World . . . .

I’ve been leading DiabetesSisters Virtual PODS for almost two years now.  I love getting together each month to discuss diabetes with women all over the United States.  I’ve learned so much from each and every “sister”.  It’s been especially interesting to hear some of the different challenges we may face based on where in our country we live.  Weather can cause challenges.  Urban areas may have different resources than rural areas.  Different types of foods may or may not be available.  It really gives me something to think about.

Global-HeartAnd when I co-hosted our first Global PODS in February, with Elizabeth from T1International, all of these things got bumped up to the next level.  There are challenges faced by women with diabetes in other countries that I have never fathomed.  And still, we also have so much in common, which is a comforting and uniting circumstance.  So I am very excited to co-host our second Global PODS tomorrow.  I can’t wait to reconnect with some of the women from around the world that I (virtually) met last time and get to know some new attendees.  We’ll be discussing access, comparing and contrasting pressing access issues in each of our countries and brainstorming for possible solutions.

If you are women living with any type of diabetes and would like to join us, please email me or Elizabeth so we can send you the meeting link.  We’ll be holding the Global PODS tomorrow, Friday July 29th, at 3pm GMT.  (Click here to see what time that is in your corner of the world . . . . )

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Feeding the Mind - #cwdffl16 Part 2 . . .

In my last post I talked about how Friends for Life is very much a social occasion for me.  Spending time with my d-family is important for my mental health and happiness.  But Friends for Life is also about the sessions and learning new things and learning more ways to live a happy and healthy life with my chronic illness.  In addition to feeding my soul, FFL feeds my mind.

slidesOne might think that after living with diabetes for over 36 years,, there isn’t much new to learn.  But that isn’t true.  New treatments and technologies are being developed continually and I want to know what my future might hold.  So the opening keynote, delivered by Ed Damiano who updated us on the iLet, set the tone for the buffet my mind was embarking on.  And since I’ll no longer be attending JDRF Government Day and hearing annual research updates, I was really excited to hear what Aaron Kowalski had to say about things such as encapsulation, smart insulin and closed loop systems - all in various stages of development and / or clinical trials.

Mark-HeymanFeeding the mind and becoming an educated patient isn’t just about learning what treatment options may be coming in the future.  It’s also about learning to take care of ourselves.  During MasterLab, Dr. Heyman gave a fantastic, and (for me) a much needed, session entitled "Don’t Forget About You: Taking Care of Yourself While Advocating for Others".   It was a great reminder that we need to make sure we are not overextending ourselves,and that we shouldn't feel guilty about taking time for self-care.  Or maybe that is just what I took away from it.  In any case, it’s something I need to be reminded of.

Then there are the (as I call them) "touchy-feely" sessions.  These are sessions that I can't really tell you much about, because we discuss things in a safe space where nothing said will leave the room.  We open up about issues such as dealing with complications and diabetes burn-out and topics that tip more on the emotional end of the scale than the medical one.  I need that safe place and the bonding that occurs as we bare our souls, and that ah-ha moment when I realize that being bogged down by my chronic illness doesn't make me a failure - it kind of makes me normal.

The truth is,  more often than not I look forward to Friends for Life because it’ feeds my soul.  But I shouldn’t undervalue the fact that is also feeds my mind.  It’s like a gourmet dinner followed by a decadent dessert, and I appreciate every minute.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Feeding the Soul - #cwdffl16 Part 1 . . .

In 2011, Pete and I attended our first CWD Friends for Life.  And we happily went back for the following three years.  But last year, we decided Pete deserved a vacation that DIDN’T revolve around diabetes.  #blamePete  Okay, okay, that isn’t entirely true.  We decided together that we both needed a year when our vacation dollars were spent on something without a diabetes focus.  Sure, we can’t really take a vacation from diabetes, but going somewhere non-diabetes related is important sometimes.  And so we took a Canada / New England cruise, which was a fantastic adventure.  But we missed FFL.  A lot.

So this year, it was time to go back.  And we’re both thankful that we did.  Friends for Life is more than just a conference for us.  It’s also a family reunion and a vacation and a second home and a bunch of other indescribable things with a ton of happy feelings.  It’s a week when I get to hang with some of my most favorite people from the internet.  In short, it feeds my soul.  And here is why . . .

DisneySpringsI got to spend time with Cara and Becky.  Cara and I call ourselves twins because we were born on the same date and are so much alike. So time with her is always wonderful. And finally meeting Becky in real life, who came all the way from the UK, was a huge treat this year.

RickTripI've been Twitter pals and blog pals with Rick and Trip for quite some time. Finally getting to hang with them in person was priceless!

NewEnglandersI reunited with my fellow New Englanders in the expo hall.  Funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been in New England when I’ve seen any of them.

DinnerDinner and silliness are always important!!  I love this crazy bunch.

WilTripI had no idea Wil would be attending, so seeing him was a very nice surprise.  He wrote a great post about his experience as a first-timer this year.

DontStopBelievinDiabetes can feel so isolating at times.  Working primarily from home in the on-line world also feels very isolating.  So spending the week in a place where I felt decidedly not-isolated was exactly what my soul needed.  And exactly what Friend for Life gave me.