|The 2015 Diabetes UnConference attendees~|
- It was emotional in all dimensions - And for some reason, it’s really hard to articulate those emotions
- I wanted to make sure not to divulge anything remotely private because we as a group/collective (see what I did there,) decided that there would be a Social Media blackout/moratorium so that the people attending had a place to share their most private diabetes thoughts and fears
- There are so many wonderful posts have already been written on the subject, what could I say on the subject that hasn’t already been said?
The agenda was created by every PWD in the room and the list of topics stretched out across the wall - I kid you not.
I tried taking notes, but early on I put my pen down and focused on listening to who was speaking and what what being shared, while observing the amazing that was happening all around me.
I met people who had lived with diabetes for over 50 years and I met people who had lived with diabetes for only a few months - and folks who ran the gambit in-between and I learned from every single person in the room.
FTR: I even wore my Lilly 25 year medal for the first time ever, during the sessions because if I was going to wear my diabetes bling anywhere, it was going to be in a room filled with PWDs!
And there was a hell of a lot to learn, because collectively, our group had damn near 2000 years of diabetes experience.
Things bubbled up and came to the surface and we were able to share; listen, learn and support one another in a safe and protective environment.
I observed people who had never been in a room with another PWD before find their tribe and their voices.
I was able to meet people in real life that have had my back online for years and who I already considered friends. But to meet life, to hug and to hold them, to laugh with them -THAT WAS AMAZING.
More amazing, watching friendships form and diabetes confidence bloom exponentially.
I wish I'd had the chance to talk with everyone - but it seems that each and every conversation I had was so engaging that there wasn’t enough time!
(Special shout out to those folks I've had some really heartfelt conversations with since the conference!)
And every once in a while, my mind who travel back to the 2014 Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum, where I literally saw the light bulb go off over Christel’s head, or maybe the light bulb went off earlier, but it was the first time I saw it glimmer.
Anyway, I was sitting in the row directly behind Christel during a discussion about peer support - and I’m totally paraphrasing here, but Christel said something like: We need to have conference for people with diabetes, and then quietly she said - An UnConference.
And now there I was, sitting in and being part of, the first inaugural Diabetes UnConference - watching people with diabetes engage, learn, share and support one another - and my eyes started to leak, but in a really wonderful way.
Because I had witnessed advocacy into action and was watching strangers become allies and friends and I was participating in it - talk about overwhelming!
I cried on the plane ride home - And like many others who attended the conference, I blamed the “vegas dust™,”Mike Barry.
Bottom line and without giving anything away, the Diabetes UnConference was a place were people with diabetes and regardless of the type, found support in one another.
Where everyone in the room spoke the language of diabetes fluently and with understanding - And regardless of the dialect.
And I want our dialogues to continue and I want to create/ be a part of new discussions in the process.