Yesterday, I attended my first diabetes summit and met some really terrific people. I don’t run into many Type 1’s in everyday life, so it was neat to see so many of us in one place, all dealing with the same struggles. Some folks I met have had diabetes for 30+ years, some less than 30 days. One thing that stood out though, each of of them, regardless of how long they’ve been diabetic, had the same passion for wanting to conquer this disease and live as close to a normal life as possible. It is all too common to find yourself in a rut, not wanting to test your sugars, not wanting to take your insulin, just not wanting to do everything it takes to stay ahead. I get it. Diabetes is not something you can just forget about for a little while even when you want to, it’s there, every single second of every single day. Even when you are not eating and having to bolus, you still need to track your sugar throughout the day to prevent severe highs or lows that could lead to long-term complications. It takes diligence, patience, support of those around you, knowledge, and most importantly, strength. It’s hard to get through some days with diabetes, but it’s even harder to get through those days if you stop taking care of yourself. If you are feeling in a rut, I urge you to reach out to someone or join an online diabetes community. It’s easy to feel alone, but those groups will help you when you just don’t feel like helping yourself.
I met a young girl at the summit, age 5, who was just learning how to live her new life and trying to process a new illness. She was amazing, much more so than I would have been at her age. Her mom was so positive and eager to learn all she could, and that is going to make all the difference in that young girl’s life. The diagnosis is not something you can change, so having a positive attitude makes life that much easier. I’m not trying to sugar coat anything and say this positivity will make everything magically better or that it is easy to stay upbeat everyday, but a general attitude of we’re not going to let this beat us will make a huge difference, that I can promise you.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE. Gary is the award-winning author of Think Like a Pancreas and runs a company called Integrated Diabetes Services LLC where he and his staff provide diabetes coaching, education, and consulting to navigate the complexities of living with T1D. What I loved about his presentation is that he goes so much more in depth than an endocrinologist has time for during regular appointments. An endo really only has a short time to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, do a quick exam, and make adjustments to your dosage based on looking over your numbers for a few minutes tops. With every diabetic’s needs being so unique, it is near impossible to figure out how to make adjustments based on such casual review. There are too many factors that affect blood sugar levels, so it takes an in-depth discussion and looking for patterns to know exactly what is happening. That’s where Gary’s company fills the void between provider and patient. His staff is solely made up of those with Type 1 diabetes, so they really do get it.
Overall, it was a great day and I met passionate people. My favorite thing about the summit was I learned of a new (well, new to me) pump that is tubeless!!! That deserves three exclamation points because, WOW, that would be amazing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten my tube stuck on door knobs and drawer handles and it nearly yanks my skin right off. You can even swim with it and wear it in the shower. What?!? No more trying to figure out where I’m going to put my pump, holy Toledo! This is everything a girl could dream of. I know what you’re thinking, oh how sad, she must not have big dreams. Try living one day with a pump tube and you’ll be dreaming this big too!
If you’ve never attended a summit, I highly recommend it. Even if you are not a diabetic but have a loved one who is, there are sessions for you as well. I can tell you from experience that it is hard to have diabetes, but some days I feel like it is harder for my husband. It’s not easy to see someone you love having daily struggles, and it truly is a disease that affects the whole family. The family sessions are designed to help you navigate the challenges of living with someone with T1D. We all could use a refresher every now and then, and I learned much more than I thought I would. Technology is changing so rapidly that it’s easy to miss the newest developments, and it’s very important to know what is out there so you can make informed decisions about what devices would work best for you and your lifestyle!