Sunday, August 2, 2009

CWD's Friends for Life Conference

I just wanted to add a brief post (we'll see if I accomplish the "brief" part) about the Friends for Life Conference I attended in July. I wasn't quite sure how it would be going into it, if I would really like attending something where diabetes was THE focus. I went alone, and worried I would feel alone the whole time there.

I got into Orlando and took a Disney bus to the hotel. I checked in, but they said my room wasn't ready yet. So... I decided to wander around for a while and also check in for the conference. I did feel alone at this point. After I checked in though, I felt a little less so.

The bulk of the conference was built of sessions during the day, banquets, parks, and other fun in the evenings. I attended many sessions during the conference that truly affected me. Joe Solowieczyk is am inspiration to anyone with type 1 diabetes, and their families. I also was able to meet and have a very nice conversation with Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999 (type 1 since 1993). I met some very inspirational people, and even met Kerri Morrone-Sparling from Six Until Me. I had been reading her blog for... 2 years or so, and I finally got to meet the person behind the humor, kindness, and intelligence. She is every bit in person like she is online. Genuine, funny, smart...

After 5 days, the day to leave came. I went home, and was sad to leave. I didn't know what it would be like going into the conference. It was AMAZING! I spent basically the next 2 days after coming home from the conference in tears. Tears of relief, happiness, tears of anger about what everyone at the conference, including me has to go through every single day. I learned a lot at the conference and met many wonderful people who I hope will become as the title of the conference says, Friends for Life.

At home, I always checked my blood sugar under the table at restaurants, always had my pump in my pants pocket. I never had thought I had a problem with my diabetes, or a need to hide it until I went to the conference. I saw everyone checking their blood sugars wherever, whenever, out in the open, and I saw pumps clipped on anything that would stand still. I realized that maybe I was a bit ashamed of my diabetes after all. Now that I am home from the conference, I wear pump sites on my arms with tank tops, I clip my pump anywhere, showing it off, and I check my blood sugar on top of the table at restaurants. FFL made me a stronger, more outgoing diabetic. I am so thankful I was able to have this wonderful experience, and I would encourage anyone with any connection to diabetes to attend if they are able. It is a life changing experience, and I know it sounds sappy, but it truly changed who I am.

1 comment:

  1. Tricia I'm so happy you loved FFL. You're an inspiration that you went by yourself, and it worked out wonderfully. I'm so proud of you!!!