DSMA: The Impact of Diabetes

running_high_impact_image_title_io1x9_445x335The August prompt for the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy blog carnival is all about mental health and reducing the impact of the emotional toll in caring for diabetes. This is an incredibly important topic and something that most of us, in some way or another, have felt in our journey with diabetes.

When I was thinking about how I wanted to address this, the word that stuck out to me wasn’t emotional or toll or even diabetes. It was impact.

I recently started working at a local running store in town (in fact, today was my first day) but I have been interested in running for the past year, and “impact” definitely comes up a lot. The impact of running on the body, the impact of the ground on the joints, the impact of your foot, etc. They are all very important things to consider when running properly and getting fitted for the right shoes and supportive accessories, like shoe inserts.

For a lot of new runners, they just jump into running without the proper equipment. They might find a pair of old sneakers or maybe they just wasn’t something “cheap and easy” so they get something from Target or Sketchers or something. And they start running and they don’t really know how far or how long to run, so they might run a million miles before they are painfully injured, or they might realize how difficult running is right out the gate and they stop before they really give it their best effort.

I think this can be analogous to a life with diabetes.

Obviously we don’t have to wear special shoes for diabetes (although you can if you want). But you need proper education and proper support (from your running gear) to run well and reduce the impact on your body, and you also need proper education and support to reduce the impact diabetes will have on your mental health.

We get fitted with the right kind of shoes to lessen the impact that running will have on our bodies. There are a ton of different kinds of shoes, with orthotics and inserts to make it even better. I like to think of the diabetes community as our collection of shoes and orthotics. It’s not terribly sexy, but I think it’s true. There is no one “right” shoe, and I don’t think there’s one right way to get emotional support either.

Some people are going to dive right into the fast-paced Twitter, others might enjoy a more thoughtful blogging experience. Others will have an easier time with Facebook (especially if they are already on it), while others might want their diabetes support completely offline and choose to go to a local support group. Some people might find they get the most support from going to local expos and conferences, and others might be perfectly happy receiving the latest issue of Diabetic Living or Diabetes Forecast.

The point is, we’re all different. The way we can lesson the impact of diabetes in our lives will be different, and yet it is important to find something because diabetes will have an impact in your life. The gravity of the Earth and the gravity of diabetes cannot be avoided, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that what works for me will work for you. Trying things on and testing them out will let you know whether something is working and helping to stabilize you.

So the prompt asks specifically “what should a parent or PWD do to lessen the emotional impact of caring for diabetes?” and I honestly don’t know. I don’t think I could answer that. It’s like if someone asked me what shoe they should buy for running. There are so many things that influence the answer that it wouldn’t fair for me to just say one thing over another.

But what is true is that there is an impact. There is an impact to running and there is an impact to living with diabetes. You can’t escape it and you can’t ignore it. The only thing you can do is address it head on and figure out what is going to help you the most.

Raising a Child with Diabetes: My Mother’s Perspective

303995_10100125935915326_1795777874_nA few months ago, I shared an interview with my dad about what it was like to raise me as a child with diabetes. Earlier this month, my mom was visiting for my birthday and I had a chance to sit down for a similar interview. Obviously my own thoughts and memories about growing up with diabetes are different from my parents. I hope you enjoy the interview!

If you’re interested, I also conducted another interview with my mom about non-diabetes related topics at my other blog, With Faith & Grace.

When I was first diagnosed, how did you deal with the first few months? How did you work through the diagnosis?

It was all new since I knew nothing about diabetes. I had no understanding about what it really meant, so we both had to learn a lot. We all had to learn a lot. It was overwhelming. You were young. It was definitely a life-changing experience. Learning how to do the routine. We liked your doctor a lot, so that was good. He was very patient and understanding. It was really good to have a good doctor. We had support mainly from your medical team, because we didn’t have family around. We were on our own a lot.

For other newly diagnosed parents, what advice do you have for dealing with the diagnosis?

The main thing is talk to the doctors as much as possible. People you can trust. You’ll get a lot of people saying things that they don’t understand. You can get bothered or hurt by it. People will say things without intending to and it can be difficult. You kind of have to just go with it. YOu don’t want to take it personally, you don’t want to personalize anything anyone else says.

Being involved with the diabetes community is a good thing. It keeps you in touch with other people. We did the WAlks which were very ehlpful. Just to have that sort of support. I liked that you went to the camps. You were around kidsso that helped normalize it a bit. At school you were usually the only so that was more difficult. You have to be an advocate obviously at school because they won’t know what it is. YOu want to keep it as normal as possible.

How did you make it normal?

You have to be prepared, but not make a huge thing out of it. I see some parents like to dramatize everything, but we just incorporated it as part of our daily life rather than focusing on it as the central part. I think it helped you.

Is there anything that you did that now reflecting back that you’re either glad that you did it or that you wish you had taken a different strategy?

There’s nothing I would change. You were always responsible, so that was good. As far as checking blood sugars and perhaps we gave you too much responsibility. I thought we were pretty good about watching, but maybe you feel like you were on your own too soon. Like anything, you release the responsibility as you see it’s appropriate.

Do you feel like you guys went through diabetes burnout and if so, how did you deal with it?

It’s not burn out in the same way but there’s a time when you wish you didn’t have to do it. There’s no vacation from it. Every time you put together a lunch or you can’t do the same things. you have to be more cognizant and aware. I can remember packing your lunch in the early days and just being immobilized. Is five chips too many? Just counting things out was like a life or death situation. The responsibility was at times overwhelming. You had to eat, you couldn’t eat. It revolved a lot around food. Too much around food and that was not ever natural. You have to watch for your highs, you have to watch for your lows. Worrying about if you’re high. Exercise could make you go high. Emotions could make you go high. All the changes through growth were the hardest when you were a kid. They kept saying it would be better when you an adult because you’ll be more stable.

Not really.

I knew it was “not really” but better than when you are growing and changing.

You still have hormones in the morning.

Yeah, you still have all the hormones and it’s all still reactive. But they just said it would be easier. I know I went on some of your field trips. Outdoor School was nerve-wracking because we had to sit down with the teachers and the nurse and have that all plotted out. That’s always difficult for parents, but even more so when the kid is diabetic.

I always said that people with diabetes can do anything anyone else does that they want to do as long as they are prepared and I think that’s how you raised me to think that. You guys never said that you can’t do that.

We never considered it a limiting factor. Ever. It just wasn’t. And we still don’t. Obviously you have to care for it and do the right things.

A lot of parents talk about how emotional they get about blood sugars and A1Cs, so do you feel like you could stay more objective or how did you deal with it?

You always kind of connect higher blood sugars with “you did something wrong.” But I don’t remember being affected too negatively. The A1C was always good when it came down, but that’s what you get burned out on, is the numbers. You do your best, why is it up higher when other times it’s not? It’s very reactive to exercise and food. And you know it’s hard to explain it to people. But I don’t think it affected my self-esteem.

Why do you think that is?

I saw it as information. We usually just tried to figure out what it was. We did have to do a lot of reflection on what may have made you go high, like long-term pasta. We started to learn about the different foods and the compositions of the foods and how your body responded. It was always an analytical way of looking at it rather than a personal “bad or good.” We didn’t take responsibility for how your body responded to things. That’s not good. We tried to do really good. Sometimes you didn’t always want to do, not that you really had any problems like some people. But you’ve always had a propensity for liking foods so that was an issue at times. There was some tension on that front.

One of the things I think is what part is the diabetes and what is just natural. Like, is the diabetes causing the behavior or is it just the behavior? When you have a kid with diabetes, you have to wonder is it the diabetes or is it just the kid, the hormones, the this, that that? I remember one time the doctor said that in puberty you won’t know if it’s the diabetes, the hormones, the social issues of kids that age. Diabetes was a big question mark. Is the blood sugar causing the unhappiness or is it the hormones?

We knew when you were high. You were significantly a different person. I don’t know if that’s still the case.

I think I’m more aware of the sensation of high and when my attitude is being blood sugar influenced.

That’s a good way of putting it. You were more influenced by your highs than your lows. So is she high or is it because you were with friends and they were all being snitty with each other. That’s normal. But when you have a kid with diabetes, it adds an extra point of reference to behavior that can be difficult.

What advice do you have for parents of kids who are going off to college? Did you struggle with not having as much control or knowing what was going on?

It’s like any other part of letting your kids go. By the time they move away, you better hope that you feel pretty good about where they are and you can just let them go. If you’re going to be so worried, you didn’t do the job early enough. It’s too late. If you don’t set them up and try to influence and raise them to be fairly capable people before they head off, then you are going to worry. But if you’ve done it pretty well, they should be able to manage. Of course, a lot has to do with the kid. Some kids are more independent. You were very independent. There’s not a particular age to start, but it is something that has to be done. I think the earlier you start with small steps, little things.

I do know every family is different in how they perceive it. A lot of it has to do with perception. My best suggestion is that they embrace it as their reality and not fight it. Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not easy, but it starts with attitude.

Omnipod: First Thoughts

????????????????????????????Review posts of all kinds are incredibly popular in the Diabetes Online Community, so I would remiss if I didn’t jump off the bridge with everyone else. I have been on the Omnipod system for all of three days, but so far, I’m liking it just fine. But let’s dive a little deeper into what exactly I like and what, if anything, exactly I don’t like.

Likes:

  • I like having my glucose meter and pump as one contraption. I feel like it has encourage me to test my blood sugar more often, especially right before I eat something. Since I already have to get the PDM out to bolus, it’s not much extra effort to check my blood sugar. It’s similar to why people like the Medtronic CGM/pump combo (although for me the inaccuracy of the Medtronic was such that it was almost pointless to try using it, but I digress into a totally different topic).
  • I like that it doesn’t influence my wardrobe choices, at least not yet. I’m sure there will be at some point a skin tight something or other that will reveal an irregularly shaped bulge in my side that makes me cringe and cry “Why do I have to be a Borg?!” But I’m not there yet. Right now, I’m wearing shirts and skirts comfortably that almost entirely hide the pod-shaped lump under my clothes.
  • I like that the PDM is very easy to read and to use. I like black text on a white background (although I wish that purple background color ran through the PDM a little bit more). I like that it uses a little bit of color. I like that the menu is easy to click and scroll through. I like that the Status screen has pretty much all the info I need and that the bolus feature is the first option on the menu. Pretty much everything else is just additional, so the flow works for me.
  • I like the all the stats and graphs. It’s fairly comprehensive, although since I’ve only had it for four days, there’s not much I can work with just yet. But I like that there is something there, built into the PDM so I don’t have to download (although I’m sure I will soon enough).

Dislikes:

  • I don’t like how slow the PDM takes to wake up. This is probably my biggest pet peeve. I have to hold down the on button and then it still takes a second to wake up and retrieve the data. It just seems like it could be faster.
  • I don’t like that it won’t break down and show me the amount of insulin for corrections and for food when doing the calculations. It’ll confirm the amount of food and your blood sugar, and then it will give you an insulin amount factoring in your food, blood sugar and IOB. But it won’t actually tell you how much insulin you are getting for each category, which is something Medtronic does before you confirm. It’s something I was used to and liked reviewing.
  • I don’t like that I can’t find out how much insulin is in my reservoir. It only has an icon the shows that it’s more than 50 units, so I find it a little weird that it won’t actually tell me the number.
  • I don’t like how big the PDM is. It’s seems bigger than it needs to be. It’s pretty heavy. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s definitely something I noticed when I took it out of the box.
  • I don’t like that you can’t move the pod. It’s one of the things that I didn’t like about the pod when I first saw it many years ago, and I’m still not a fan that you can’t move it. I wish, like regular pumps, there was a way to have the set and the pod separate so that if you needed, you could change the set but still keep the pod if it had insulin.

That’s pretty much it right now. I would say the pros outweigh the cons by a lot. Of course, no system is perfect and I’m sure I’ll get used to Omnipod’s way of doing things soon enough. I will also say that the size of the current Omnipod is basically the max of my comfort level. I would love it if they were a little smaller although obviously you need to have some room to put insulin and the device’s brains. But if it were any bigger, I don’t think I would like it. They are small, but they aren’t that small.

Anything else you want to know?

The New Adventures of an Old Pumper

BR6ApDlCEAApO49.jpg_largeI’m officially 36 hours into my new adventures on the Omnipod.

I received the call on Wednesday that my insurance company had approved the insulin pump but I wasn’t able to get a hold of anyone at Insulet until Friday. When I finally spoke to someone, I told them I was ready and to send out the insulin pump. They told me that I would receive the pump in about 3 to 5 days, and to go ahead and make an appointment with my CDE to get trained. Little did I know that 3 to 5 days would be shortened to just one day! On Saturday evening, when I came home from work, the Insulet box was sitting outside our apartment!

I debated for, oh, five minutes about whether or not I should go ahead and boot myself up. As you can probably tell, I went ahead and booted myself up. Having already been on an insulin pump for a solid 12 years, I knew the pumping lingo and could read the instructions and the PDM easily enough. I had also seen Gary demonstrate how the Omnipod works in May, so I felt I had a clear idea what was going on. Not that there weren’t nervous moments, and I jumped a bit when the Omnipod finally injected into me. Having using a silhouette for many years, I’m used to doing things manually.

Because I still had Lantus in my system, I didn’t start the basal portion of the Omnipod until Sunday morning so that I could make sure it was a good 24 hours since my last injection. That meant I was a bit high overnight (although that ice cream probably didn’t help), but I was back to normal quickly enough with a correction dose. And boy was it nice to just push a few buttons instead of taking an injection. Lordy, I was hating on injections toward the end!

I haven’t really been on the Omnipod long enough to make any real solid observations, other than to say that I like it a lot. There are a few things that I’m not so keen on, but there aren’t any red flags that make me want to send it back. My main issue right now is just simply adjusting my insulin doses from MDIs to an insulin pump. My basal, and likely my bolus ratios, are going to change now that I’m back on an insulin pump, just as it did when I went off the insulin pump. I’m spending a lot of time testing my blood sugar. That 50 mg/dl I woke up to at 4:30 this morning was none too pleasant!

In lieu of proper CDE training, is there anything you think I should know about the Omnipod? (And don’t worry, I know about the doors!)

Healthy Relationships With Healthcare Professionals

pennyThis is the topic of an upcoming article I’m writing for the national magazine, Diabetic Living. As I always say, I’m just one person, so I want to solicit (yet again) some feed back from all of you!

Here are a few questions that you can feel free to answer if you feel like contributing your thoughts. You may or may not be quoted, but if you are quoted, I will contact you ahead of time. You can answer any or all of them via email or you can leave them in the comment section.

Questions

1. What do you do to prepare for a doctor’s appointment to make sure they go well?

2. Have you ever had a poor relationship with a doctor/CDE and then it got better? What did you do to improve it?

3. What qualities do you look for in a healthcare professional?

4. What advice do you have for a fellow PWD or parent who is struggling with their healthcare professional?

Thanks in advance! As always, I couldn’t do this without you!

Triggers + Ability + Motivation = The Secrets to Managing Diabetes

When it comes to this AADE annual meeting recap, I’m going to work backwards chronologically because the most important session I attended actually came at the very end of the conference.

On Saturday morning, I attended the final keynote of the AADE. The guest speaker was BJ Fogg, an author and psychologist who founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Dr. Fogg’s presentation was enlightening and presented methods for behavioral change in a way that I had never really considered before, and he has also created several online resources for designing behavior change that I have found very valuable.

I will not be able to do Dr. Fogg’s presentation justice if I tried to recap it, so instead I’m going to highlight a couple of aspects that I found most relevant for myself. Hopefully you’ll get something out of it too!

Dr. Fogg opened his talk by sharing that new research has concluded that it’s incredibly difficult to externally motivate people to do what they don’t want to do. I’d wager to say that it’s also extremely difficult to internally motivate yourself to do what you don’t want to do. This can be seen time and time again in the “scare tactics” that doctors and diabetes educators like to share with their patients (us!).

“If you don’t take care of yourself, do you know what will happen? You’ll go blind / lose a kidney / have a heart attack / lose a foot / get eaten by locusts.”

Okay, so I made up that last one, but you get the idea.

Dr. Fogg’s advice: Help people do what they want to do. It’s really such a simple concept when you think about it, and yet so many of us fail at this. Even with ourselves! I have lost track of the times I’ve thought to myself “I need to do more strength training” or “I need to get up earlier” or “I need to eat less carbs.” All of these are good, healthy habits, but they aren’t necessarily things that I want to do. And when you don’t want to do something, it’s virtually impossible to get someone to do it! Most of the time, in fact, people will rebel against whatever it is that you’re telling them to do.

Behavior change (or what Dr. Fogg calls “behavior design”) comes down to this simple equation:

Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Triggers

Essentially anything that we want to do (behavior) is a combination of our desire to do said behavior, our ability to do it (that is, skill or know-how) and a trigger (a reminder or prompt). Now, Dr. Fogg’s website Behavior Model has a lot of the background information available, written and in video, so I encourage you to check it out because I’m not going to go into super depth about the equation other than to say: it’s freaking brilliant!

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Dr. Fogg explains that when you are trying to accomplish a particular behavior, it’s necessary to have these three things. If you’re having difficulty adopting a behavior into your everyday life, Dr. Fogg says it’s best to work backwards in the equation.

First, you’ll want to look at your triggers. How easy is it to remember that you want to do something? Do you have an alarm clock? Do you have an accountability partner or a friend that you do things with? Dr. Fogg shared a helpful fill-in-the-blank sentence for triggers: “After I ________, I will __________.” By using your established routine to create new habits, you’re more likely to stick with it because you’re building upon something you’re already doing. For example, Dr. Fogg said that he wanted to build the habit of doing push-ups. With a touch of embarrassment, he shared that his phrase was “After I pee, I will do two push-ups.” Isn’t that funny?! Yet so simple!

He also said that it’s important for the development of habits to have a little reward or acknowledgement of success, so he likes to say “Awesome!” It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just a little “Good job” or “Way to go.” Another example he used was flossing. He said that even though a goal might be to floss your whole mouth, even doing one tooth is good. He acknowledgement of success was “Way to keep up the habit.” Even if it wasn’t the entire goal, at least there was an attempt and effort to keeping up a habit.

If adding a trigger or two into your life isn’t working, then Dr. Fogg suggests making sure that the habit wasn’t too difficult. Many people try to incorporate new habits and they go way overboard by saying they are going to do an hour of exercise every day or they’ll run a mile, etc. But if these activities are beyond your current physical ability, then it might not be something to do right now. If you’re highly motivated, as shown in the graph, then the activity can be a bit harder than if you were only moderately motivated. And if you’re hardly motivated at all, then the activity has to be as easy as pie because otherwise you just won’t do it.

Dr. Fogg did not spend much time discussing motivation, because motivation is not something that is easily altered. I think this is something that is important to recognize. While things can motivate you or inspire you, they are not necessarily things that you can necessarily create yourself. They tend to be things that are just naturally there for you, although sometimes circumstances can change and you’ll suddenly be motivated. But motivation is essentially your desire to do something, and so if you don’t have a desire to do something, then it might be worthwhile to reconsider the behavior that you’re doing.

grid365_purplepathThe Behavior Wizard is a nifty website that asks you a few questions about the behavior you’re hoping to accomplish, and the results guide you in figuring out how to use triggers, abilities and motivation to your advantage. The quiz is based on a chart that Dr. Fogg created that outlines the different types of behaviors (new behavior, familiar, foreign) and lengths of time (one time, forever). Depending on where you fall in the chart, there will be different tactics for you to follow.

After listening to Dr. Fogg’s inspiring and intriguing speech, I started to think about the different behaviors that I wanted to adopt or strengthen. There was one that I immediately started dwelling on: testing my blood sugar. When I got my A1C back from the Novo Nordisk booth and saw that it had jumped significantly, back to 8.2%, I knew I had to get my ass in gear before my next endo appointment. Testing my blood sugar seemed like a logical behavior to focus on because it was something that I know I don’t do enough of.

The first area that we should look at are triggers, but I felt like my triggers were pretty obvious: at a meal. Like a phone ringing, the sight of food should trigger me to test my blood sugar. My phrase could be, “After I test my blood sugar, I will eat.” (So a bit of a twist on Dr. Fogg’s original suggestion.) But even then I will still ignore the trigger, so I knew I had to think a little deeper.

I moved on to Ability, but my ability to test my blood sugar didn’t seem reasonable. Testing your blood sugar is one of the easiest things you can do in managing your diabetes. Using a glucose meter is not that hard. Five year olds can test their blood sugar. I know how to test my blood sugar, and yet I still won’t do it.

Then I moved on to Motivation and that’s where I got stuck, because how do you motivate yourself to do something that you don’t want to do?

I chatted with another CDE about my conundrum, and she said that it had nothing to do with Triggers or Ability and everything to do with Motivation. And she said that if I’m not motivated to do something — if I don’t want to do something — then it’s going to be very difficult to do something unless it’s the easiest thing on the planet. She suggested wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

As some of you may recall, I lost part of my CGM and so I haven’t been wearing it, but I realized that was probably the solution. My blood sugars were significantly better while I was wearing a CGM because it was a very passive way of monitoring my BGs. Since I didn’t want to monitor my BGs all the time, the CGM was a way of making it as easy as possible.

When it Triggered me that I really needed to do something for my blood sugars, I was more Motivated to use my Ability to test using a meter and take insulin.

See what I did there?

Another thing I realized through Dr. Fogg’s talk was that being on shots and strength training for exercise were no longer working for me. Managing my diabetes on shots has increased the difficulty to the point where I need a significant trigger, like a high blood sugar, to do what I need to do. Seeing a BG of 152 mg/dl isn’t enough for me to want to whip out a correction injection of one unit, so consequently I don’t have as tight of control as I could.

Strength training is another “should” that I really don’t want to do. I’ve never really liked strength training and yet I keep prodding myself to do it, hoping that it’ll catch on. But like Dr. Fogg said at the beginning, we should be focusing on doing what we want to do. What do I want to do? Running! Even though it’s still hard for me to do, my motivation to do it is very high because I want to get better at it. I don’t want to get better at strength training. But with running, I want to get faster and I want to go farther. Even though it’s hard, it’s also kind of fun!

Last night, I was talking to my husband about what I had learned and I told him that I wanted to scale back on my strength training and focus on running more often. Even though it might not be as “effective” in losing weight, it was physical activity that I enjoyed doing. And maybe occasionally I would feel “in the mood” to do a 30 Day Shred video, but I wouldn’t expect it of myself and consequently, I won’t feel bad when I don’t do it.

My insulin pump is also forthcoming (although I still don’t have a confirmed date, arg!) and my CGM? Well, I’ll just have to suffer a little bit longer since we really can’t afford the $200 replacement fee. But having the awareness that I need to first identify what I want to do, rather than what I should or ought to do, has really been life-changing. I have heard it mentioned so many times in terms of other people with diabetes who are really struggling with diabetes that it never occurred to me that it might apply to my own life with diabetes. And I think that’s something that more of us need to realize. Just because we aren’t the worst of the worse and just because we are educated and experienced doesn’t mean that we are the exceptions to these behavioral concepts.

Human minds work in remarkably similar ways. It’s time to design our behavior accordingly.

Off to AADE! Plus Thoughts On Conferences

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At AADE12 in Indianapolis

This is my third year attending the American Association of Diabetes Educator’s annual conference… and I’m not even a CDE yet!

The first two years I was lucky enough to attend on behalf of my previous employer, DiabetesMine, and this year I was able to wrangle a trip thanks to three things: 1) it’s free to attend if you go as Press (which a blogger is); 2) I live three hours away from Philly by car, so I’m driving and only have to pay for gas and parking; and 3) I’m blessed to have friends like Kelley Champ Crumpler who is letting me stay with her!

This is likely to be the last AADE conference I attend for awhile, as the next several conferences are all several states away. So I’m ready to soak up the learnin’ as I head into my own career as a diabetes educator!

I find that many conferences can have a lot of repeated information, both in sessions and in the exhibit hall, so I don’t necessarily advocate going to conferences every year just for educational purposes. The main benefit I get out of going is being able to discuss real life situations with diabetes educators, pharmaceutical and diabetes company representatives, and of course, get a little bit of in-real-life love from my fellow DOC peeps! All of those make diabetes conferences totally worthwhile!

It’s been a year since I attended a diabetes conference so I suspect I will hear some new factoids and meet lots of new folks at the same time. I recommend attending one to two diabetes conferences a year, and your best bet is to pick conferences that have different speakers and topics. Speakers often use the same material from one conference to the next, so while you might want to see them again, research simply doesn’t move fast enough to make their presentations brand new.

(Unless, of course, it’s Ed Damiano. You’re more than welcome to listen to him over and over and over…)

That being said, if you are going to connect with other patients, then by all means, go to as many as you can! I’m lucky enough to know a lot of PWDs in real life, but I think that if I was in a more isolated location, I would probably want to attend more meet-ups and conferences.

What are some good conferences? I’m so glad you asked!

— CWD’s Friends for Life should be at the top of everyone’s list. Not only does it have stellar educational opportunities with world-class experts, you’ll also meet 3,000 of the most amazing people on the planet. And it’s at Walt Disney World. I mean, really, what more do you want? This is the next best thing to a cure.

— DiabetesSister’s Weekend for Women is a unique take on diabetes conferences because it really hones in on how diabetes affects women’s issues, like pregnancy, sex, relationships. Although there are some more general diabetes info sessions, everything is really geared to the essence of a woman. And as a woman, I appreciate that.

— The AADE conference is probably my favorite professional conference. I enjoy it because the sessions are more geared toward clinical practice, rather than scientific research which is the bread and butter of ADA’s Scientific Sessions. I get that some people love that stuff (and it’s important too!) but I have trouble understanding the nitty-gritty science so it’s not really my bag. Some of the sessions are about the “business of being a CDE” but in general I find it interesting to hear what CDEs are learning. However, the only way to go as a non-healthcare professional is to go as Press, as I mentioned. It’s free, which is awesome, but if you don’t plan on blogging about the conference, it might be difficult to get in.

— JDRF Research Summits are a great local resource for folks as well. I know not every chapter has them, but I have seen them grow a bit more state-by-state, so I would contact your local chapter to see if they have something coming up. If not, you might suggest starting one. I know places like Austin, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. have hosted Research Summits, and the one I went to in D.C. was really great! There were speakers that I had never heard before, which, as I mentioned, is something I highly recommend looking for.

Okay, I’m off to Philadelphia! I’ll be back with lots of news (and maybe a giveaway or two) next week!