I am honored to announce that The Diabetes Collective, Inc. has opened registration for The Diabetes UnConference at The Flamingo Las Vegas from March 10 – 13, 2016.
Trying something new is scary. Trying to put on a conference where the agenda isn’t truly defined until the participants are in the room together – and wondering if any participants will show up – is terrifying. I had my moments. More than my share of moments.
And you know what? I can’t wait for this to happen again.
But what I didn’t tell you then was how I sobbed in my hotel room after the conference ended for almost an hour. Not from sadness, but from sheer elation. Happy sobs, because I had met people from all walks of life who wanted to learn from each other and build a net of support. These people astounded me with their frankness, their honesty, their willingness to open up they own Pandora’s Box, and their desire to help. I am a better person, not just a better person with diabetes, because of the people I met.
We asked attendees to complete a post-conference survey. Here are some interesting things we learned:
62% of the attendees said that they were planning or already made a change in the way they manage their diabetes based on what they learned at The Diabetes UnConference.
Some of those changes were with the way they interacted with their medical care team, or asking for help from others, or staying motivated through peer support. Others planned on talking with their medical team about super bolusing or untethering or trying a new medical device or medication because of the experiences their peers had.
The sponsors were amazing. We couldn’t have done this without the support of Insulet, Dexcom, Medtronic, JDRF, Abbott, Tandem, Roche, Asante, and J&J/Animas. One of the attendees summed up pretty much how everyone felt:
“I know they were there to promote their brands, but I also appreciate the fact that they supported this event so enthusiastically.”
When asked what they enjoyed most about The Diabetes UnConference, the answers made my heart swell:
“The feeling of relief, of understanding, of connection. I also learned a ton of new ideas on how to better manage my diabetes or change the way I think about it. I also loved meeting others who have gone through experiences I am about to go through, so I can hear what they learned from it.”
“Sitting in a room filled with people I could relate to, and didn’t have to explain or justify what I was doing/eating/etc. Also, as much as I love my family, I really enjoyed having NO responsibilities for the weekend except for myself. It took some of the ‘weight’ off of my brain having to only worry about myself. And even then, I wasn’t too worried because I knew if something happened, I was surrounded by people who knew what to do to help me.”
“The sense of safe community we all created. We all really got to shed some diabetes weight. I felt lighter after, like I could go back out and face the world with diabetes again.”
“I have told everyone I know that this was THE best conference that I have ever attended in my entire life. Lots of experiences were shared. I got a perspective that I have not experienced before. People were friendly and I took away ideas and stories that people told that I will hold with me forever. Truly an awesome experience.”
Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and glitter. We had some bumps… Not enough time to deeply get into topics, not enough breaks for decompression during the event, and the need for more non-session social interaction. Plans are already underway to made the event even better. We also knew before we left that two things needed to be added for 2016:
- We are adding a “People Who Love Us” registration for spouses, significant others, family members, and close friends of people with diabetes who need the same type of psychosocial support that we received this year. They need that same safe space, non-judgement zone where they can talk about how we can be total jerks sometimes and no one will tell them that’s wrong. They will have their own sessions, just like the PWDs, but we’ll also have some sessions together to talk about ways to help each other.
- We are adding one on the East Coast. Attendees want to come from all over, but sometimes the cost for airfare is ridiculous. The Diabetes UnConference – East Coast will happen in the fall of 2016 and allow participants to choose either (or both). Contracts are being hammered out as I type.
The intimacy of The Diabetes UnConference is what makes it so special, so we are limiting registrations again. If you want to attend in Las Vegas, please register as soon as possible to take advantage of the Early Bird registration and secure your attendance. We’ve got a lot of fun things planned already for next year, along with some great ideas. Hope that you’ll join us!