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.
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.
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!!