Last summer, when I was 17 1/3 months pregnant, I traveled to Seattle to take part in the ConnecT1D Retreat. Despite being a round mound of hormones, I had an awesome time connecting with other PWD adults and sharing experiences. It was put together by an amazing team of PWD leaders, and today, the Board President of ConnecT1D is sharing details about the 2017 conference.
(And note: registration ends on March 15, so register today!!)
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Kerri: Hi Cassady! Thanks for making some time to talk. Can you let readers know a little bit about you and your connection to diabetes?
Cassady: Hi Kerri! A few fun facts about me: I enjoy plants but do not like to garden; gummy bears are best served cold so I keep mine in the refrigerator; my current binge-watching show is “Seinfeld”, and my two cats were in my wedding this past year when I married the coolest guy in the world. We created a special wagon covered in toole for them and my niece pulled it down the aisle—not as a flower girl, but under the official title of “Head of Feline Transportation: Ceremony Division.”
Also, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 22 years ago. As a teenager, I struggled quite a bit with T1D, both physically and emotionally. Despite having all the medical care I needed, I was labeled a “non compliant” patient who just couldn’t seem to get it together. I remember feeling so alone and overwhelmed with shame and guilt during those times. That’s when I came to see the bi-directional relationship between physical health, especially chronic medical conditions and psychological well-being. Luckily I started seeing a counselor, and discovered the power of emotional support and connection.
I decided to take my personal experience and combine it with professional training as a mental health therapist, and that’s what I do now! I help people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses address the psychosocial issues that, much like that awful bunny onesie Ralphie gets in “A Christmas Story,” so often show up uninvited. No one gets what he’s going through, but I bet they would if they had to wear one. I get it, because I, too, have worn the pink bunny suit.
Kerri: Who hasn’t worn the bunny suit? You’re involved with ConnecT1D. Can you tell readers what that organization is about and what your role is there?
Cassady: I am the Board President of ConnecT1D, which is a nonprofit in the Pacific Northwest that sees social support as a vital part of type 1 diabetes treatment. That’s why we create social support opportunities for families, teens, and adults living with T1D. We do this by bringing people together for meet-ups, educational meetings, retreats, and lots of other fun programming. Speaking of which, I am also the Co-Chair of the ConnecT1D Adult Retreat…
Kerri: Good timing with that mention. The ConnecT1D retreat is coming up soon! What makes this event awesome?
Cassady: The Retreat is an opportunity for adults living with T1D (partners welcome!) to get together to relax and connect with people who have a deep understanding of what life with diabetes is like. It’s great to be in a room where people are whipping out needles, talking about carb counts and you are not required to explain yourself when you mutter things like, “I’m high” or that when you say “basal”, you are not referring to an underrated garden herb. (Please see “Fun facts” in Question 1.) Inclusion can be life-saving. Isolation can be devastating.
Kerri: I was lucky enough to visit last summer and hang out with the ConnecT1D team. The event was awesome. What can attendees expect from the 2017 conference?
Cassady: We will spend a weekend at the Clearwater Resort and Casino, just a 15 minute ferry ride from Seattle, WA. National and local speakers (who have T1D themselves, or a close connection to it) will lead workshops on a variety of topics promoting social connection and emotional wellness while living with T1D. Mike Lawson of the Diabetes Hands Foundation will be our keynote and he’ll talk about his own experience with and ideas for overcoming diabetes burnout. We even have a workshop for partners/T3s! Being a support person of a PWD is not always easy and often has it’s own set of challenges, and we want to have a dialogue about elements of the T3 life as well! In the evening, we’ll hang out and take advantage of the Resort—whether that’s heading to the casino to listen to live music or sitting fireside with a new friend.
Kerri: I’m sure people want to go check it out. How can folks find out more about the event??
Cassady: For more information or to register, please go to connect1d.org/retreat. Once you register, you can join a closed Facebook group where attendees can connect and get updates on the Retreat. The page also ends up being a cool resource even after the Retreat because it’s a place where we can build on and keep in touch with the community formed during the weekend, ask questions, share resources, and post hilarious cat-themed diabetes gifs.
Just kidding. They don’t have to be cat themed. Registration ends March 15th and space is limited!
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Thanks, Cassady! Whoops one more: