Learning, Loving, Laughing & Tears

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.

Meri, Sara, Me, Brian – sadly Briley is not pictured.

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:

notesphotoInto something that will make sense to you requires more organization than I am capable of – yet I’ll try.

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.
Even if a website has this HONcode – please still check with your HCP before making changes to your diabetes management plan.

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.

random photo to break up all my rambling text – Banquet Ball on Thursday with two beautiful ladies and my amazing Sweetstuff – this photo almost makes my heart explode.

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.

another random photo to break up all the darn text – This is Sweetstuff with Will Cross – mountaineer and explorer extraordinaire

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.

last photo – promise – but darn it there is just so much text – better than some random cat picture. Sugarboy getting is caricature on – sponsored by Nova Nordisk – they did me but I swear I looked like Fran from the Nanny – it didn’t make it home.

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

ok this is the last picture – tween and teen dance night. no parents allowed. It was fabulous.

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.

18 thoughts on “Learning, Loving, Laughing & Tears

  1. you took good notes!

    i wish i had gone to the stress session (are you getting the jon kabat-zinn?) for help expelling my shit, and to the moms group. dang.


    1. I downloaded both the audio and kindle versions of Where Ever You Go… Good stuff so far except that Jon’s voice in audible is so relaxing I find myself drifting off while listening – I wont be listening to it while driving.
      I need to get the Buddha walks into a bar book – I mean how could I not with a title like that.
      I feel very lucky to have met you – helps putting voices to blogs.


  2. Shit! *Giggle, giggle, giggle…*

    Dr. Bob is another one that needs to come live at my house; along with Gary and Joe Solo (my husband’s request). Maybe he can help me remember to breathe.

    Btw, I don’t know if I mentioned , but I’ve been reading the title of your blog wrong all this time… I thought it was “Stick It with Sugar”. Your actual title makes more sense. But you’ll always be stick it with sugar to me.


    1. LOL – You and Shannon both have been reading it wrong – Im guessing many have.
      I think Dr. Bob should write a book – only it needs to be on audible because I can’t both meditate and read at the same time. I would also solve the lack of a dingy bell problem. I tried meditating yesterday and fell asleep. oops.
      Gary’s books are awesome and I’ve learned much from them and I’m certainly looking forward to Joe’s electronic book.
      It was so fabulous meeting you and you defiantly need to come back to CA.


      1. I haven’t had the chance to meditate… I need to, but Fred went out of town right after we got back and the kids have been conspiring to kill me.

        Lots of breathing lately… Lots of shit too.


    1. At the airport we had to remove 8lbs from our checked bag – apparently it is $100 additional if the bag is over 50lbs. I remember when we used to get 70lbs. I guess it is better to keep the airport personal out of traction.
      I will find out what we might have extras of to see if I can send some to Alexis. I’ve already promised the Lenny’s elsewhere and given away a whole lot of glowstuff from dances.


    1. Thanks Ellsheva – it was and I am still working on the other posts. They are more difficult and time is short lately. Thanks for always checking in. I hope you can get to a conference like this one more specific to your needs. Every chronic illness should have something as awesome as FFL.


      1. It would be awesome! I started imagining a FFL type conference for people with lung disease that involved “lots and lots of breathing” and actually made myself laugh. Duh! That’s what we’re all working on. Hah!


    1. I really wish you were there. I do hope you make it in 2014 but I must admit if you can only go to one in the next few years I hope its 2015. I can’t imagine we will get there next year. Plus I think Richard Vaughn is planning another trip in 2015. In the meantime if you are ever in my neck of the woods (Nor Cal) please let me know and I will make sure to plan a meet-up.


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