Our family just spent a week in Orlando at the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conference. I have so much to share; things I learned, things that made me laugh, things that made me cry, things that made me go hmmm?.
Where does one start? I’ve read over a dozen wonderful recaps. Many of the recaps made me teary-eyed, a couple made me down right cry, some made me giggle and some made me want a complete do-over since I clearly missed sessions I should have attended.
I started the conference by working the You Can Do This booth in the exhibit hall. I hope everyone got over there to share their thoughts and be a part of the project. I loved meeting so many people who came to the booth and working with some of my most favorite DOC members. Thank you Sara & Kim for letting me be a part of it this year. I’m told the 2013 video will be up shortly but until then please check out the 2012 video.
I suck at note taking – turning this:
Things I learned:
Dr. Bob and Natelli Bellini hosted a Stress management session on Thursday afternoon. It was an amazing session and I couldn’t scribble notes fast enough.
- Own your stress – sometimes its just life, sometimes it just is.
- We are often told to change our perception but that isn’t as easy as it sounds – it can lead to being stuck in the future or in the past. Focusing on the right NOW and how we can change a circumstance with adaptation, knowledge and seeking additional knowledge is more effective than simply trying to change how we see things.
- Recognize that no parent is right all the time – says Natelli (shhh don’t tell my kids) I jest – but I need to remember that I’m not right all the time and sometimes I learn from my kids and there is always something I can learn from others.
- “Just get the numbers” Getting teens with diabetes to check their sugars as often as they should can be difficult. Find your child’s currency and use it to get the numbers. (phone is the best currency for most – tough love with diabetes)
- “I don’t care how they feel – I care that they do it” Says Natelli – We all know that diabetes is annoying and time-consuming but getting the numbers is the key so while the kids are frustrated with diabetes it is equally if not more important to get the numbers than worry about how they feel about it all the time. (I agree and disagree at the same time – there has to be some happy medium – a way to get the numbers while being able to recognize and empathize.)
- “Dont suffer from diabetes” Natelli – followed up with words from Dr. Bob “suffering comes from the attachment of an outcome” Remove the expectations and that will limit suffering.
- There are a bazillion websites that offer medical advice. Be sure the site you go to has safe information – look for the HONcode which focuses on the reliability and credibility of information. Looks like this one found on the CWD website.
To end the session Dr. Bob had us all close our eyes, take a deep breath and feel the community around us. That was powerful.
I attended another Stress management session with Dr. Bob on Friday. His session was more about Mindfulness and living in the moment – plus lots and lots of breathing. I didn’t know I had been breathing all wrong. We did some meditation (almost fell asleep – but Dr. Bob said that its ok to fall asleep because at that time sleep is what you need). Books Dr. Bob recommended included:
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat
Mindfulness For Beginners by Jon Kabat
A fellow attendee recommended this book:
The Buddha Walks Into A Bar…A Guide To Life for a New Generation by Lodro Rinzler
Also in this session a friend I was sitting with asked a question. All kind of emotions exploded into the question – the question had many parts and one of them included “how to avoid losing my shit” (paraphrased). Dr. Bob came right to my friend. He spoke to her like she was the only person in the room, one hundred percent of his attention was with her and I felt like I was right there too, not just because I was sitting next to her but because I think so many of us have the same questions and fears about loosing our shit. While Dr. Bob was talking he kept saying “loosing your shit, expel the shit, there’s a lot of shit, shit, shit, shit, etc.” It was the best. He was able to recognize what was needed and provided it. At least I felt like that and I hope my friend did too.
The Moms discussion group was fabulous and the time went too fast. I wanted to hear more moms share stories and ask and answer more questions. I wanted us all to hug and laugh and cry together. I loved that Moria came in about half way though and shared her thoughts about being part of the “Yes club” – let the kids do their stuff. Mistakes will happen – let them. She did say that the one thing she insisted on was a blood sugar check before driving. TRUTH! I loved hearing CWD faculty member, Intissar Ben Halim, share her thoughts about how the teen brain frontal lobe gray matter is a big-ol-mess. (no she didn’t say ‘big-ol-mess’ but I suck at notes and so I’m taking a number of liberties in regards to how she said teen brains develop). The session was too short. I didn’t want it to end – although the conversations were wonderful it was more that I was in a room with 40+ other moms that were just like me.
I didn’t get to as many break-out sessions as I would have liked. I got distracted with awesome conversations in hallways and in the exhibit hall. I would so love for CWD to videotape all the sessions and then figure out a way to share them, at least with those that were in attendance – it sure would make my lack of note taking less frustrating.
The exhibit hall is a favorite for all attendees. I let my kids explore on their own opening night while I hung at the YCDT booth. They were like little scavengers gathering up goodies (SWAG – not the scientific kind – the holy cow how am I gonna get all this home kind) – I think my youngest collected about a dozen silly putty eggs from the A1C Champions booth, all three got backpacks with sleeping bags and carb free snow-cones from Nova Nordisk, each got a mini-Lenny from Medtronic, sunglasses and spy-photos from OneTouch, Glucolift glucose tabs and photos from the photobooth presented by Tandem, popcorn from The Diabetes Scholars Foundation, t-shirts including my favorite from A Mile In My Shoes – a company founded by Joe Solowiejczyk, really great bags from Freestyle (these were instrumental in getting all the SWAG home), and light-up pens from Omnipod. Yes I included links to the companies that provided all the SWAG – thank you to all the sponsors that help make CWDFFL possible.
Other posts about Friends For Life 2013 – If the following posts don’t make you want to start packing for 2014 I don’t know what will – I mean aside from being surrounded by 3500 of your closest friends, the top researchers and medical professionals in the country, food with lists of all the carb counts, the hot sticky weather of Florida in July (wait is that plus?), opportunities to meet some of your favorite diabetes bloggers and authors as well as a few celebrities living well with diabetes.
Joanne – Death of a Pancreas ( I didn’t include a link to just one post – she has written at least 3 about FFL)
Moria – Despite Diabetes
Meri – Our Diabetic Life
Katy – Big Foot Child Have Diabetes
Briley – indpendence
I have two other posts working in regards to the conference but when I try writing them I get very tongue-tied and overly emotional. This was the easy post – the one about learning and getting SWAG. The other posts are about DOC heroes and about the green bracelet – the one that is still in pristine condition and hidden in the large yellow envelope 4 inches from me.