Thursday, July 19, 2018

Friends For Life Orlando, 2018

Just a few things of the many things I loved about the Children With Diabetes, Friends For Life Orlando conference, I attend last week.
Super special coin and bracelet.
People roaming the halls of Disney’s Coronado Springs wearing green and orange bracelets, and who “get diabetes," without ever uttering the D word. I LOVE THAT. 

Littles running up to me and shouting: Mama, she has a green bracelet like me!

Realizing that the young “teen” you've mentored/been friends with for years, is now a vibrant 21 year old woman with t1d who is thriving! 
Sidebar: And who promised you (and put it in writing,) that as an adult t1 woman, she will ALWAYS keep an 8 pack of juice boxes by her bed. 
Seeing the 16 and 14 year-old t1s and the awesome 11 year old orange bracelet sibling you’ve known since they were in single digits,(and missing the 16 year old orange bracelet sibling and her mamma, who were sidelined due to an injury,) are growing and becoming and it blows your mind.

Hanging at the bar with other green/orange bracelet adults and laughing with them about everything - including all the beeps and blips from all the various diabetes electronicals.

Bumping into the little boy who told you last year that diabetes “makes him happy and sad,” and who now declares “that he loves diabetes,” and ROCKING YOUR WORLD, in the process. 
2018 and 2017.
What a difference a year makes~
Meeting a 10-year-old, green bracelet “First Timer,” and his orange bracelet wearing little sister in the lunch line, and who become super excited to make superhero capes at the Dexcom booth after you explain to them that Dex's Super Hero Cape Making Station is an actual thing. 
Then green bracelet boy discusses with you (and in great detail,) about pumping; wearing a Dex, and how he gets his love of sauerkraut from his Grandmother, as he piles his lunch plate with 3 big scoops. 
You get dTechy with him and also tell him that you can totally relate to his sauerkraut obsession because thanks to your dad, you feel the same exact way about horseradish — and you both start to giggle. 
He follows you over to the dessert table and you both go for the oatmeal cookies “because they are the best,” and the giggles continue.
A few hours later, two green and orange bracelet wearing super heroes (and one with a penchant for sauerkraut,) are rocking capes and participating in your #IwishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes booth, then head over to the Beta Bionics booth and make the crazy light thingies and then give them to you, and after you'd complimented them on their cool crazy light thingies.  :)  

My new FFL cape wearing, sauerkraut loving,
orange and green bracelet wearing, sibling Super Heroes!
Your special group of “First Timers alumni,” are now seasoned Friends for Lifers, who you have special drinks with at the pool and exchange silly texts with.
T1 Chicks & Orange Bracelet friends @ the Omnipod party for
T1 Adults at #FFLOrlando18 
D Squad goals met and exceeded because of a group of fantastical green and orange bracelet wearing chick friends who have indeed become friends for life. 
These women always encourage you throughout the year; send you wake up texts on the day you fly out to ffl; buy you unsalted almonds and water at Publix, ply you with British chocolates, understand your “L Explorer” and “GM Running Club” references, and always make you laugh!

Sitting at the bar and watching your “diabetes brothers” totally nerd out over Disney’s Avatar Ride, while you and your D-Sister can’t stop laughing at and with them.

Attending adult t1 support sessions about diabetes burnout and diabetes complications in a judgment free zone. 

Your D mama friend who once again makes sure you’re OK with juice boxes and bottled water. 

Orange bracelets who have become friends for life!

Watching your t1d friend experience FFL for the first time and through her eyes.
You forget that she’s shy because she's anything but with you. 
And you burst with pride as she reaches her goal to meet 3 new green/orange bracelet wearing friends in one hour at the bar.

Discovering that the shy little Ninja Turtle loving, 4 year old green bracelet wearing boy from last year is now a talkative, confident, and positive Spidey Super Hero with a huge smile and an amazing attitude!

Experiencing one of the worst lows of your life surrounded by people who love and help you, and continue to check in with you throughout the day, into the evening, and well into the next day - and in a way that doesn’t make you feel like a burden. 

And you are so incredibly thankful that they were there.

Realizing a few days later while talking with your diabetes brother about that low, that maybe it’s time to do something you’ve been putting off for a while. 
Sidebar: More on that later. 

Standing at the ice machine on Friday afternoon after a long day of sessions, attempting to fill a ziplock bag with ice, so you can ice your broken toe (long story), and failing miserably, because the goddamn ice keeps spilling EVERY WHERE and you are about to lose your proverbial shit.
Then, and just as your about to let out a stream of expletives, you feel a slight brush against the side of your thigh and exactly where your Omnipod and purple grip are, followed by a little voice that’s barely a whisper, saying: I like your gripper and your Omnipod. 
You turn around and see a little girl with blond hair, wearing a blue and green bikini, with a pod on her belly that’s surrounded by a super cool black oval grip— and she’s looking up at you with a broad and shy smile.
And you know it must have taken all the courage she could muster to walk up and start a conversation with you.  
Your heart melts and you respond: I like yours too. 
And then you both start talking about all things diabetes — your new D friend is a year and a half in and her mom is watching and smiling. 
All of a sudden you’re not frustrated anymore. You’re happy and want to hug this amazing little girl and tell her that’s she’s exceptionally awesome, because she is, so you do. 
You’re glad you’re wearing sunglasses because you know your eyes are on the verge of leaking. 
Then her mom grabs your arm and thanks you for “doing what you do because it’s amazing,” and you feel your cheeks turning red. 
You thank the mom for all she does, tell your new friend that you’ll look for her in the pool and in the hallways and she promises to do the same. 

You say your goodbyes and walk in the direction that may (or may not,) lead your back to your room, as tears start streaming down your face and in the best of ways.

And once again you are reminded how much you need to be at the Friends for Life Conference in Orlando - for yourself and for others.  
And how much #FFlOrlando18 recharges your diabetes batteries and your spirit - and once again, you are so incredibly grateful~


Richard's Rambling Review said...

Kelly, I loved your FFL report. It was soooo sensational, and so are you!! Thanks for being there. I hope to see you there next year. :)

Rick Phillips said...

What great fun. I have attended once and had such a wonderful time. Wonderful report.

StephenS said...

Loved reading about your experiences, and the fact that you were able to spend time again in your most special place. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Love this! You are a T1D hero for so many of us T1Ds!!! And that's my mama Grigs coming through with the juice boxes!!!

Susan said...

Crying now girl. Lovely piece and thank you for posing that challenge. Love you!!

Unknown said...

One of my favorite things about FFL is knowing I’ll get to see you, however briefly. I’m so glad I get to spend time with you (and everyone)! Also, you made me cry. Love you!

Becky said...

I love it. A real glimpse into what being there is like. Love it. Love you x

Ash said...

Hey KK, such a pleasure to see and spend time with you (particularly in Ricks). It was a heck of a year. Let's do it all again in 12 months' time!

Unknown said...

Kelly what a great post! Loved it, and thank you for letting me tag along with your GREAT group of friends at the bar! Hope our paths ross sooner rather than later! Alice.