Why? I think there are several reasons. They seem more responsible because of having to deal with something as serious as diabetes at a young age. These children are more outgoing and interact better with older adults like me than others I have met. And they are different too because their parents so obviously show them so much love and attention.
That’s particularly true of those families here with me at Disney World in Florida this week. More than 2,500 people are gathered here from all over the world for this wonderful five-day gathering sponsored by Children with Diabetes.com.
Jeff Hitchcock started the Children with Diabetes website in 1995, about the time that I started my site. Since then it has grown into the premier source of information about type 1 diabetes. The conventions like this bring these families together to share their knowledge and experiences.
(Full disclosure: Jeff and I have been friends for years and I own several thousand shares of Children with Diabetes stock.)
The parents here are different too. They can be assertive – even aggressive – in supporting their children. That message came through strongly to me at the first session I attended here.
It was a focus group on software that works with a continuous glucose sensor. When some parents complained about the program’s inability to customize its reports and that it could not eliminate obviously false readings, one of the presenters made a mistake.
“These reports are intended for your physician, because he makes most of the decisions about your child’s diabetes care,” she said.
“No,” roared back most of the 40 people there. “Our physician is there just to write the prescription,” some people said. We take care of our children every day, and the physician sees them ever three months or so.
At least the company representatives listened and wrote down what these parents said. Someone said that another shortcoming of this otherwise excellent program was that it doesn’t work like the GlucoMON, which connects a LifeScan meter to a cell phone. Later, I mentioned that to Kevin McMahon, who developed to GlucoMON.
Like me, Kevin sees these parents and children as special. And this convention couldn’t be more different from the American Diabetes Association’s convention that we both attended in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Kevin noted that at other conventions, including the ADA’s and the American Association of Clinical Educators, most of the people are one or two removes from people with diabetes and seem to be much more focused on picking up the freebies that the booths in the exhibit hall offer.
There are indeed freebies here that the parents and children certainly do not disdain. I have been helping out at the Pelikan Technologies focus groups and booth, which demonstrate the Pelikan Sun lancing device, which I have written about here. As I write, people are crowding around the booth right now to sign up for a free trial of the Pelikan Sun.