CWD: Focus on Technology.
Over the weekend, I was in Conshohocken, PA with 100 or so of my fellow PWDs (people with diabetes) and their caregivers, getting a bit of a refresher on some diabetes technology bits. As an insulin pumper, a CGM'er (is that properly conjugated?), and still teetering on the edge of a serious bout with diabetes burnout, an informative conference with fellow synthetic insulin junkies was exactly what I needed.
Honored to have met Dr. Anhalt
One of the presentations that resonated most for me was from Dr. Henry Anhalt, Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director of the Artificial Pancreas Program for Animas Corporation. The guy is smart, and he spoke about the progress towards an artificial pancreas (or, as I kept hearing in my head, an "art panc," which made me picture a finger-painted, paper-mache pancreas), but he was accessible. Dr. Anhalt knew that the people in the room wanted to hear about the project, but not from some guy who spouted off empty promises about "five to ten years" and who wasn't in touch with the real patients in the real world.
He talked about the frustration of managing diabetes. "Is there any other condition that's as challenging to manage as type 1 diabetes?" he asked the audience, and almost every head shook in a "nope" of agreement. "If your kids aren't making 'target,' it's not because you failed." And I watched one mom wipe her eyes with her sleeve, clearly needing to hear those words.
"Imagine failing at something you really, really wanted to do. Then imagine how it feels to fail at something you never wanted to do in the first place," Dr. Anhalt said, and a breeze swept through the room from the force of the nodding.
"The artificial pancreas will not keep you at 100 mg/dL all day long. There will be blood sugar excursions, but the result will be a lower overall A1C." And for me, hearing those words, meant a real A1C that's lower, not one that is the average of highs and lows. I am working hard to have a proper A1C that shows real stability, and I have high hopes that something like the artificial pancreas, or other stabilizing technologies, can help more people with diabetes achieve that goal. Short of a biological cure that gets my body making and maintaining its own insulin levels, I'll take whatever helps me continue to live a healthy life.
Overall, the conference was crammed with solid diabetes tech information, and each presenter made their concepts accessible. (More on other presentations later in the week, once I can unearth all of my notes.) But in addition to the conference sessions, there were also some moments of down-time with my fellow PWDs, which can be just as important (maybe more so) than the information at the sessions. (Also, the Philly area has one of the best crews of local PWDs ever. It has to be said.)
Ladies who don't make their own insulin but who managed to color coordinate nonetheless
It's not easy being green ... unless you're at a CWD conference.
It's easiest being (a) green (bracelet) there.
"The diabetic who knows the most, lives the longest." So claimed Elliot P. Joslin. Well, if that guy is right, attending conferences like the Children with Diabetes "Focus on Technology" weekend will hopefully tack a few years onto my life. ;)
[Disclosure: I have a sponsorship agreement with Animas, and they paid my travel, lodging, and expenses for this conference. Full details on my relationship with Animas here. And this is a shird.]