CWD: My First Time.
Up until last week, I had never been to a CWD event before. I had heard about them through the diabetes community, and I knew that many of the parents who were reading my blog were members of the CWD forums.
Now I know why people are so into CWD. It's like coming home.
These people get it. I've said that before about my best friends, who do their best to understand the subtleties of diabetes, and about my wonderful co-workers, who go to great lengths to know what a real "dLife" might be like. But the parents and children at the CWD conference are the ones on the front line, the folks who are living with this disease every single day, either as the diabetic themself or the caregiver of a PWD.
The CWD Friends for Life conference in Orlando is filled with parents who care. With kids who boop beep boop and shunk and who know the carb content in their favorite breakfast cereal. With grandparents who can proudly program a pump, or siblings who know how to treat their brother or sister's low blood sugar.
It's also filled with some of the diabetes medical community's finest, with Fran Kaufman, Bruce Buckingham, Richard Rubin, and Barbara Anderson among the faculty. I attended several focus groups about diabetes and pre-pregnancy planning, CGM use, and the artificial pancreas. (The groups deserve their own posts, so more on those later in the week.) I also had a chance to meet with some of d-blogging's most friendly faces, like Manny from TuDiabetes and Sara from Moments of Wonderful.
The first focus group I attended was about Diabetes and the Web, which has people talking about websites they frequent for their diabetes care. A little girl sitting in front of me, about 8 years old and with an insulin pump clipped to her shorts, said "I visit dLife to find recipes I can eat." My heart swelled with pride.
They asked us to envision cards we'd receive from our endocrinologists or CDEs. "What kind of card would you want to receive from your doctor?" Even though the group was dominated by children, there were several adults (myself and Manny included) who grabbed for the crayons with vigor.
The front of my card read: "Do you have diabetes?"
Inside: "You are still YOU."
After sharing our cards with the group, the leader asked when we'd want to receive these cards. On our diagnosis anniversary? After we have an A1c done? When we're feeling frustrated?
"I'd take these cards anytime. Randomly, monthly ... daily." I said.
A father in the group laughed. "Me, too."
I've said it before and I'm sticking with it: Diabetes doesn't define me, but it helps explain me. And attending this conference drove that point home. I was one of many, united by a common medical bond, but I was still me. A pump in my pocket, a meter in my bag, and two decades of diabetes under my belt - but I was still me. And I wasn't alone.
Thanks for the warm welcome, CWD.
(I have a Flickr set of the conference online now - feel free to poke through if you have time. More on the conference to come!)