I am my diabetes expert. You are your diabetes expert. And it took The Diabetes UnConference to show me how important that is and how much we need to come together and help each other.
Simply put…it was inspiring and transformative.
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. And there was a hell of a lot to learn, because collectively, our group had damn near 2000 years of diabetes experience.
There was laughter. There were tears. Hugs abounded and high fives flew. Clapping (twice). Frustrations. Hope. Fear. Unbelievable strength and dogged determination. There really aren’t enough words available to me to describe this event. So here’s what you should do. Next year, you should plan to attend.
I had been blaming myself for my diabetes and its complications. Opening up at the UnConference, I was embraced with open arms and a lot of ‘me too!’ I truly am not alone!
I actually went into this thing, thinking I didn’t belong there because I have only been a PWD for 2 years and 9 months. I was scared. I was afraid I was going to hear things like, “Oh, you’re so new. You can’t possibly need to go to an event like this.” I did not hear that once this weekend.
People shared some of their most closely held fears and secrets. People emerged stronger. People emerged not feeling so alone. People were empowered to take another look at diabetes and their friends who live with diabetes, making a collective investment in a better future for all of us. We are all in.
As we gathered in the meeting room the warm welcome was just the beginning for a day and a half filled to overflowing with respect, compassion and a deep understanding of shared experience. Lasting friendships were formed and hugs exchanged. It was a very profound experience that I will be forever grateful to have shared.
The safe space we all created and respected that allowed everyone to feel valued, respected, and welcomed. This gave people the comfort level they needed to share and listen and react and laugh and cry and swear and whatever else they needed to do.
There is an immediate bond when you meet someone living with diabetes. Words can’t describe the feeling of someone your just “gets it”. Now multiple that feeling by 80, that is what the UnConference felt like.
Number of hours you spend each year impacted by diabetes. (Hint: 100%)
Number of hours you spend each year talking to medical professionals about diabetes. (On average…)