I have been back from the Children with Diabetes Friends For Life conference for almost a week and a half, and I miss everything about the conference – except for my bed, a good, consistent internet connection, and a fairly regular sleep schedule. FFL was a game-changing conference for me, and I have not blogged about it before now, because, well, I have not been able to put my feelings, emotions, and thoughts about the conference in general and #MasterLab into coherent words. So, my first Friends For Life post is basically a compilation of some of my pictures from the conference. I have a lot more pictures, so there will be more posts, of both pictures, and my thoughts, but this was a good place to start.
First of all, attending FFL was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt like I was home, and that I was surrounded by friends – both those that I “knew” from the DOC, and ones that I met during the week at FFL. As I will write in another post, I learned the power of community, and how amazing and supportive this group is (which I already knew!).
I learned some information while at FFL that will be game changing for me. The support that I got from attending the conference is something that I cannot adequately put into words. I am eternally grateful to the Diabetes Hands Foundation, who, through the Diabetes Advocates program, gave me a scholarship for my travel to and from the conference, my hotel, and conference registration.
More to come … I have a lot of thoughts after MasterLab, and more pictures to sort through. As I said, FFL was game-changing for me on so many levels. I am already working to do everything that I can do to make sure that I can be back there next year – my mental health needs it, and connecting with other amazing PWD in person is absolutely, truly wonderful and definitely something that I need! That connection is so important, and one that I don’t get the opportunity to do often enough.
My biggest takeaway from Friends for Life is the connections. All of the sessions were amazing, but having the time to truly connect with other PWD who just get it is the most amazing feeling. It is a place where no explanations are necessary, where walking and chewing glucose tablets on the way to a session, or a meal, or meeting up with friends doesn’t seem crazy, and where carb counts are listed on everything that is served. Glucose tablets are in the back of every conference room, and available at conference desks in multi-packs. Dexcom alarms go off, and half of the room looks down to see if it is their Dexcom firing a warning signal. It is about solidarity. Unity. A place where you don’t have to worry about hiding pump tubing or your pump, because others are in the same situation. Meters are everywhere, and FFL is certainly one place where nobody minds when you check at the table, during a session, or sitting with a group of friends. We are all part of a big family, and we can share the thread of “diabetes” same - even if we may treat differently, we are part of the same community and share more similarities than differences.
I’m looking forward to sharing more about my week at FFL with you in the coming days, including more about MasterLab, and more about some individual sessions.
Disclaimer: I am eternally grateful to the Diabetes Hands Foundation, who, through the Diabetes Advocates program, gave me a scholarship for my travel to and from the conference, my hotel, and conference registration. The opinions that I share about Friends for Life are completely my own.