Diabetes Sisters: Weekend for Women.
To sit in a room chock full of women (weird description but I'm leaving it there) and be able to blurt out strange and potentially awkward questions about how diabetes affects life as a lady? All while surrounded by supportive and understanding women who also have diabetes?
That pretty much sums up my weekend in Raleigh, NC for the Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference.
I've attended one other Diabetes Sisters event, and the same sort of sentiment applied to this most recent one: it's
oddly comforting to be in a roomful of people who "get it." Especially people who "get it" as "it" pertains to being a woman with diabetes.
I was in attendance to present about diabetes and sex. Okay, fine, it was billed as "SisterTalk: Creating Better Relationships & Marriages, Moderated by: Rhonda Merwin, PhD; Panelists: Brandy Barnes, MSW, Daphene Kimball, RN, Anna Norton, MS, Kerri Sparling," but it opened with discussions about intimacy and diabetes, because that's what was on people's minds. Topics ranged from "How do you disconnect from/deal with diabetes devices in the bedroom without feeling owned by them?" to "How do you strike a balance with extended family members who are over-involved/judgmental/uninvolved with your diabetes?" Despite the fact that the panel discussion was presented to a large room, the discussions were close and intimate (and better left un-blogged), and it was a real honor to talk with the attendees alongside my fellow (very entertaining!) panelists.
Other sessions at the conference included Smart Sisters Live Longer: Unlock the Secrets of a Long, Happy Life with Diabetes, where three panelists shared tips on living a long, and healthy, life with diabetes. Panelist Connie Hanham-Cain, RN, BSN, CDE passed around her recently-earned Joslin 50 Year medal, and it struck me that even though I feel like I've had diabetes forever, I was only halfway to earning mine. But seeing those women on-stage, holding their own and owning their diabetes, inspired me.
Riva Greenberg also conducted a session on Igniting Your Diabetes Power, encouraging women to tap their strengths in order to best-manage their diabetes. (It was in here that I met a new friend, Brittney, and her 8 month old baby girl, who served to ignite my ovaries while Riva was igniting diabetes power. Adorable kid.) Riva is an amazing speaker and it was such a pleasure to sit in on her session, watching her work the room. Unfortunately, I didn't have to chance to attend the sessions hosted by fellow DOC'ers Amy Tenderich and Ginger Vieira, but from what I heard and saw through the Twittersphere, their sessions were fantastic.
During the lunch session (with keynote speaker Mother Love, whose poignant and entertaining speech about her journey with type 2 diabetes brought the audience to a standing ovation), a tally of "years with diabetes" was totaled:
That's a powerful tally. (And of course I don't know how many women were actually in the room. That would help, eh? Instead, let's just pretend there was someone who was really, really old and has been living with diabetes for 453 years. Their A1C is badass.) And seeing that number embodied by smiling faces is more than inspiring:
The Diabetes Sisters events are great for reigniting and inspiring, but it's also an opportunity to meet some really amazing women who just happen to have diabetes. And who just happen to be awesome.
The next event is in San Francisco, CA in October, so check it out if you're in the area!
[Disclosure: The team at Animas made it possible for me to attend this event, and they paid my travel, lodging, and expenses. Full details on my relationship with Animas here. Also, if you're interested, Pingu dances pretty well.]