Connecting with the Diabetes Community
I recently recapped a presentation I attended on the artificial pancreas technology, provided by my local chapter of the JDRF. While the content was interesting and the speakers passionately engaging, I found myself reflecting as much on the interpersonal connections I made with fellow attendees as I did the official presentation.
Over the years I’ve gone to several JDRF luncheons and the social interaction is always so rewarding. As folks sit down at a table together, they inevitably ask one another what their connection to diabetes is. As a person with type 1 diabetes, I can’t help but feel special during these introductions. As if, in this one setting, having T1D is like a badge of honor. All these people gathered to help cure the disease that I have. Awesome.
Frequently I meet parents of kids with T1D at JDRF events. This luncheon was no exception. The woman next to me has a daughter who was diagnosed a year ago, at age 13. I felt an instant connection as I told her that I was also diagnosed at 13, “Twenty years ago this July.” I wondered how she felt meeting someone that could be a representation of her daughter in 19 years. Optimistic, relieved, and content, I hoped.
The other folks at my table included a woman who was diagnosed with LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) aka, type 1.5, at age 50 and her husband, an aunt of a teenager with T1D, and a husband and wife couple. The husband is a doctor who’s had T1D for 20 plus years and their daughter was diagnosed several years ago as a child. As a PWD, parent of a T1D, and a doctor, he had a lot of interesting facts to share about current diabetes research.
As we ate our salads, the group started talking about insulin delivery methods and how each of us (or our loved one) managed their diabetes. As a lengthy discussion of CGM systems and insulin pumps went on, I sat back and listened politely without contributing for awhile. The mom on my left asked me, “Are you on an insulin pump?” I then shared my experience of wearing a pump for over 5 years during both pregnancies, which was invaluable, and how I’d taken it off 18 months ago and was happily giving injections. This raised eyebrows (as I expected it would). So I followed up with talking about eating a low carb / paleo diet and how well my blood sugars have been controlled. We all agreed that the more choices diabetics have the better.
Events like this remind me of how important it is to connect with the diabetes community, face-to-face, on a regular basis. My little family is planning to do the Walk to Cure Diabetes again this fall, which is always a great time to rally with others who are effective by this disease. Hopefully I’ll see some of my tablemates from the luncheon out at the walk!