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TCOYD Providence: Recap.

I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend my 24th diabetes anniversary than at a Taking Control of Your Diabetes conference in my home state of Rhode Island - and with a bunch of diabetes buddies, to boot!

Saturday dawned bright and early as I headed to Providence for the conference (though not as bright and early as it did for Karen, who was on the road at like six in the morning - she's hardcore!).  Immediately, I ran into Karen and her smiling husband Pete, and then we stumbled into everyone else at the exhibit hall.  

Chicas of the diabetes blogosphere!
Ashley, Faye, myself, Tina, Karen, Stacey, and Val

Kelly Close, Kerri Sparling, and Bernard Farrell
Kelly Close, me, and Bernard made it, too.   (Better late than never!!)

While sessions were interesting and the discussions were lively, the highlight of this conference was the lunchtime speech given by Urban Miyares, a Vietnam veteran who has been living with diabetes since he was 19 years old.  Diagnosed after losing 67 pounds in two weeks and then collapsing on the battlefield in a diabetic coma, Urban was sent home to adjust to his diagnosis.  

Yes, you read that correctly.  He was invited to join the Paralympic team as a downhill skier, and not only did he join, but he won.  Many times.  "But not at first.  My rear end was frozen that first winter, from sitting on the snow so much." 

I couldn't believe how much Urban had been through, and how much of his body had been compromised as a result of diabetes (complications exacerbated by the Agent Orange chemical he was exposed to during the war, his doctors suspect), yet he was up there making jokes.  And laughing.  



Diabetes makes an inconvenient mess of a lot of things - how much we have to travel with on a regular basis, how often we are lancing our fingertips or poking ourselves with infusion sets or syringes, how many doctor's appointments we have and the lows and the highs of both our blood sugars and our emotions … but there are some very ugly complications that come as a result of this disease.  It's not all rainbows and unicorns and invisible disease.  Sometimes, this disease is very visible.  

And sometimes you meet someone who has experienced so much of the worst this disease has to offer.  And you wonder how you would handle it, if it were to happen to you.

But losing your sense of humor isn't a side effect of diabetes.  Losing your ability to find the good in your life and to grasp on to it with both hands isn't a side effect.  And neither is your ability to inspire.  So thank you, Urban, for showing us that even when you've lost your sight, you haven't lost your ability to help us see what life is all about - laughter and love.

And thanks to TCOYD for such a great event!!

Comments

Sounds like a great experience. I'm looking forward to my first d-conference next weekend: TCOYD Des Moines! :)

First off...seeing pics of some of you is like seeing "BLOG-STARS"...very cool. Thank you for sharing. And...YES, exactly on the sense of humor thing. I try to bring a little bit of humor to our daily life in dealing with "d" and Joe. Thanks. I am inspired by all of you.

Sounds like a great speech. I'm going to the TCOYD event in Des Moines next week and I'm really looking forward too it.

Well, there may be unicorns out in dland, but I can guarantee you that they don't poop those rainbows!

That sounds like such a great way to celebrate! My 8th diabirthday was the 10th and I wasn't able to attend the conference. I was so excited when I read about it on your blog and suggested my dad come with me (he's type 2) but we weren't able to make it :/

Slacker that I am, I still haven't posted about the day because it was SO inspiring and I heard so many incredible people speak and was lucky enough to meet some awesome people and reconnect with some good friends - I don't even know how to put that all into words. So yeah, getting up at 5:30 a.m. kind of sucked, but it was so worth it. I'm already planning to hit TCOYD in Albany in 2011 (but maybe stay overnight . . . )

That's too cool that you were able to meet up with so many other bloggers!

Sounds like such a great time. I'm joining Scott Strange and a bunch of other folks at the TCOYD in Des Moines next weekend. I can't wait!

I love seeing the pictures of all the folks I interact with online. It's the next best thing to meeting them in real life. :-)

This is my 24th diabirthday! What a coincidence that I read the article about TCOYT today and then found this webpage.
I like your slogan: Diabetes doesn't define me but it helps explain me.

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