The numbers varied from 2,500 to 4,500 AADE attendees, depending on who counted. (Think of it as a very inaccurate blood glucose meter.) The final number didn’t matter; my first impressions were one of gratitude and introspection.
Why? People with diabetes spend a lot of time winging it alone. For those fortunate enough to have a smart and trusted support network (the DOC, face-to-face meetings, etc.), it’s still a rough haul, but for those who don’t have anyone… my head and heart hurt thinking about those individuals.
Enter the diabetes educator.
They can be the ones who help you go from “can I do this?” to “what’s my next goal?” with the knowledge and tools everyone needs. Cool, right? Except there aren’t enough of them and many are reaching a point in their careers that retirement is not a far-away dream. We need these educators to bridge the gap between physicians who may not have all the answers (and some don’t!) and the patients who need those answers.
What diabetes educators do
If you don’t know what a diabetes educator is, here’s the definition, according to the AADE:
Diabetes educators have the knowledge and skills to teach people with diabetes how to manage their diabetes to live their healthiest life. For example, diabetes educators explain how foods affect blood sugar, give specific directions for taking medication correctly and offer guidance on how to lower the risk of diabetes-related complications. It can include advice on everything from getting through the excesses of holiday dinners and parties, to coping with the challenges of managing diabetes while traveling for work or fun.
Diabetes education is not a lecture on what not to do. It’s real-life guidance, coaching and support proven to help people understand exactly how to best manage their diabetes, and to feel less alone while doing it.
Diabetes education can take place in a group or one-on-one setting as part of a formal or informal format.
My diabetes educators have been more than that. Some have been a sounding board, others a shoulder to cry on, and one has been able to say “Me, too,” because she lives with Type 1. I believe in the power of diabetes educators to make a difference in our lives. We need more of them.
My First Impressions
From Wednesday to Saturday, I attended some thought-provoking sessions, talked with educators who cared tremendously (and some who were just there for the continuing education credits), and danced so much one night that I had problems getting out of bed the next morning. My legs are still sore.
The educators learned from us, too.
Two interviews with diabetes educators had me thanking them both for their dedication and willingness to do what it takes. I touched new technology that will help many. I saw an amazing display of showmanship one night with a pump and an iPhone.
I came home feeling recharged, hopeful, and grateful for these individuals who want to make life with diabetes suck less.
My car didn’t feel recharged. I also came home with a new alternator and battery.