I am NOT a doctor, dietician or expert. Do I know everything there is to know about diabetes? Heck no, but I do know what it’s like to live with it.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The Diabetes Unconference: The power of peer support
Very powerful words. When living
with a chronic illness, it helps to know that you’re not alone; that someone
else understands the struggles you face. If you’re reading this, you have already
reached out in at least one way to find information or a community to help you
learn and deal with your life with diabetes. Some of you may know of the
greater Diabetes Online Community (DOC) either through blogs, Twitter, Facebook
or communities like Tudiabetes, but some of you may have never met someone face
to face who also has diabetes. This past weekend I had the privilege to
participate in such a face to face event.
Christel Aprigliano at ThePerfectD.com had a vision that she turned into a reality with help from a
few friends. The Diabetes Unconference is a gathering developed by people with
diabetes for people with diabetes. This past weekend was the first annual event
held at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. There were no keynote speakers, no
medical professionals bestowing us with their knowledge, no sales pitches or
book sales. It was simply a room filled with people who live with diabetes, of
any type, talking about things that mattered to them.
Very Powerful Stuff.
There were some people there who
you would expect to see; those who have been a part of the DOC from the
beginning. However, there were also people there who didn’t even know that the
DOC existed! There were bloggers and some who rarely get online. Newly
diagnosed (less than one year under their belt) up to two women who have lived
with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years…each! (Joslin medal winners). There
were close to 2,000 years of diabetes experience in that room for 1 ½ days.
Whoa. All types, sizes and shapes coming together with one thing in mind:
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. There will be another…and another…and
another. Of this I am certain. There is no way that the universe can hold us
back from coming together in person and lifting each other up, sharing our
fears without fear and supporting each other in a way that only people with
diabetes can. Type doesn’t matter; what matters is compassion and understanding
for our fellow D peeps. I can’t recommend this type of connection any more
Finally, thank you Christel for
all your hard work and dedication. I know you worried that it wouldn’t fly…but
I’m not sure I’ll ever come down and that’s a good thing.