5 Reasons Why YOU Should Attend The Diabetes UnConference

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The Diabetes UnConference deadline for Las Vegas early bird registration is January 15, 2016. Why should you go this year? I have my top five reasons. (Alumni, chime in if you’d like…)

  1. We’ve added Friday Pre-UnConference sessions with an amazing line-up: Dr. Stephen Ponder and Sugar Surfing, Glu’s T1D and Pregnancy, D’ABC (Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp), and more…. These are FREE and open to the public, but seating is limited. (The Diabetes UnConference attendees have VIP seating. Register to attend The Diabetes UnConference and you are guaranteed a seat in the sessions you choose.)
  2. New separate safe, private sessions for Those Who Love Us: our spouses, significant others, family members who need the same type of support PWDs get at The Diabetes UnConference. We know that there are topics that they don’t want/like to discuss with us: fears, caregiver burnout, dealing with us when we’re not “in range” – and so we’ve added sessions just for them. (And we’ve added to our amazing team of facilitators for these sessions: Moira McCarthy Stanford, Mike Norton, and Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell.)
  3. Thursday casual fun is happening. Many of our alumni said they wanted to get together and hang out as a group. So, we’ve set up some fun activities for everyone… all unofficial and not part of the UnConference, but a great way to meet new friends and see old friends. (Go Kart racing is an option. Just sayin’.)
  4. You help to strengthen our community by participating. Many individuals hadn’t met another person with diabetes or weren’t involved with the DOC. Some began blogs, some participated in DOC activities, and some built friendships that make daily diabetes management… manageable. Every time someone registers that I don’t know makes me grin… because I know that I’m going to make a new friend. It’s like Christmas in March. (Except no snow.) I can’t speak for other alumni, but because of the friendships I’ve made at The Diabetes UnConference, my diabetes management has changed. For the better.
  5. It’s the only adults-only multi-day psychosocial conference for all adults impacted by any type of diabetes. (Because there are great conferences for families with Type 1 and day conferences for Type 2, but nothing in the world like this.) A funny thing happened last year – by the end, I couldn’t have told you who had Type 1 or Type 2 based on the discussions happening around the tables. Why? Because we all want the same thing: to happily live as long as possible, with as few complications as possible. How we get there may include different treatment plans, but we all have the same issues: complications, burnout, depression, stigma, motivation, disclosure, getting older, dating/marriage, intimacy, tips and tricks for daily living… and we talk about these issues as adults impacted by diabetes  – not adults on an insulin pump or oral medications or multiple daily injections or exercise only treatment… simply adults impacted by diabetes without judgement. It’s what binds us together.

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That, and that people impacted by diabetes are fun. Come to Vegas with us and have fun.

Register for The Diabetes UnConference, being held at the Flamingo Las Vegas the weekend of March 11-13, 2016. 

Forever Arriving:

IMG_0839I’d love to give you a comprehensive synopsis of what happened at the inaugural Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, but I can’t.

It’s not because of the social media blackout (more on that later in another post) that the attendees agreed upon at the beginning of the sessions so that people could talk freely about personal issues.

It’s not because no one took notes or had nothing to say. Others have already spoken eloquently about their experience.

It’s because I can’t yet fully wrap my arms around what transpired, because they are filled with my heart. And my heart is filled with emotions I thought I could handle, but apparently… silly me. Two weeks later and I find myself struck mute, throat constricted from a remembered confession and the gratitude of brutal honesty.

As Stephen Shaul says so beautifully:

The problem is, the UnConference was not about one subject or another as much as it was about us, the people who were there, and our lives with diabetes, how we choose the devices we choose, how we navigate relationships involving diabetes, and that awful trifecta of guilt, depression, and burnout. And a LOT more.

About Us

He (and many others who have said much the same) is right. It was – and will always be – about us. Not just those physically present in the room at The Diabetes UnConference, but the “us” of our community. I’ll talk about the logistics and what worked and what didn’t – but the crux of what made this event so indescribable was the people and their individual experiences.

We are more than our diabetes, more than our diagnosis, more than our desires for a cure… but if we don’t discuss day-to-day living and “scary” or “taboo” topics with this chronic disease through deep, meaningful interactions (whether online or face-to-face), we run the risk of feeling isolated and disenfranchised.

1436965_20488329The Diabetes UnConference came out of a personal desire to create a safe place for these discussions – and an even more personal desire to push past the superficial connections that are sometimes created (not through anyone’s fault, but the way the Internet works…) online. When we walked out of that room a few weeks ago, were connections made that will take root and inspire others to be more open about living with diabetes and connect in new ways? Time will bear witness.

I know that I’ll be able to talk with greater clarity about what happened and what we are going to do next because of what happened, but for now, the cocoon is still woven tightly around me. I am comforted by that and I’m not ready to let these emotions fly just yet.

 

Stolen Words from Octavio Paz

While I can’t yet talk about it, this aptly describes how I view what occurred…

a crystal willow, a poplar of water,

a tall fountain the wind arches over,

a tree deep-rooted yet dancing still,

a course of a river that turns, moves on,

doubles back, and comes full circle,

forever arriving:

– Octavio Paz, “Sunstone”

1188980_19108234The poem is about an individual’s quest for connection and community and the loneliness that one can experience without it. (If you’ve never read it, be forewarned. It’s 584 lines long, representing the number of days it takes Venus to orbit the sun. It begins and ends with the same stanza above. This monumental work is beautiful and haunting and worth every line.)

The takeaway of the poem and The Diabetes UnConference is simply this:

we need each other. 

Whether it’s at The Diabetes UnConference or in local face-to-face meet-ups or in welcoming online community sites like TuDiabetes.org. We must create these spaces and throw open the doors to those who need to talk, all the while respecting the sanctity of what needs to be discussed

There will be a 2016 Diabetes UnConference.There will continue to be opportunities for more individuals with diabetes (and those who love us) to have heart-to-heart conversations and build new circles that grow, welcoming new and brave souls to share and teach us. I hope that smaller versions of what we began in Vegas will pop up in a local meet-up. I believe it can be done.

What did I learn (although perhaps, I always knew in my heart)?

Our community needs to have sacred spaces and full circles. We have deep roots and we will dance together. And most importantly…

We are forever arriving:

 

The Diabetes UnConference DEADLINES

Hi, you.

Yes, you. I’m talking to you with the diabetes.*

Wanted to give you a quick update on what’s going on with The Diabetes UnConference. (And if you don’t know what it is… please go to www.DiabetesUnConference.com and learn about the first multi-day peer-to-peer idea exchange for ALL adults with diabetes (Type 1, Type 2, Type I want to talk about my diabetes…) being held at the Flamingo Las Vegas from March 13 – 15, 2015.

Room Block Deadline: February 10, 2015

1145DB10980204DD1A48CB84162B3570Book your room now.

The super-duper low room rate at The Flamingo Las Vegas, where the conference is being held, is only available until February 10, 2015. (This means you can count the days left on two hands if you have all ten fingers. If you don’t, well… borrow.)

After that, they release the room block to the hoards of basketball fans who will descend on Las Vegas for March Madness. (We root for Team Diabetes UnConference. We are undefeated.)

Don’t get caught paying a stupidly high rate for a room that you can get for a song (if that song costs $69.00+applicable tax and fees) through The Diabetes UnConference room block. Check out the information about The Flamingo Las Vegas here. And book your room here.

Attendee Registration Deadline: March 1, 2015

un-diabetes-conference-fullcolor-iconEven if you aren’t planning on staying at the hotel, please register by March 1st. We won’t be able to accommodate walk-ups, as head counts must be given to catering and for the incredible Dexcom sponsored High Roller event. I would hate for anyone to not be able to participate because they waited until the last minute. I can’t “squeeze you in”. Don’t miss out.

Why Should You Come To The Diabetes UnConference?

You can learn why I think you should come. Watch this interview where I make a lot of funny faces and answer questions (thank to TuDiabetes for the hilarious chat!):

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Take their words:

We want you to be there. We want you to feel like you can talk openly about diabetes without judgment and learn from others. We want you to join us for the crazy, zany, beautiful things that will happen.

Don’t miss out. We don’t want to miss you. 

*And you with the desire to help those with diabetes. We love you, too. While you can’t join us this year, you can help spread the word. Don’t worry… we have plans for you to come next year!

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Diabetes UnConference Scholarships Available NOW!

un-diabetes-conference-fullcolor-iconI quietly announced Sunday on The Diabetes UnConference’s website that scholarships to the conference are available, thanks to our generous sponsors and The Diabetes Collective, Inc., a Florida not-for-profit corporation. Everyone was on vacation or not looking at the Internet, so I got to ease into this wonderful announcement.

Are you an adult with diabetes? Do you want to be a part of the only conference where all adults with diabetes can talk about the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes? Do you want to come to Vegas? Do you want to have fun?

Then you need to apply. Now. The scholarship deadline will close on September 30, 2014. 

What type of scholarships are available?

There are scholarships for Medicare recipients, Type 1s and Type 2s. There are full and partial scholarships. There is something for every adult with diabetes.

I want everyone to come and I’m so glad that these scholarships are possible. Even if you aren’t awarded a scholarship, I hope you’ll be able to come.

A lot of very cool announcements will be made this week about what’s going on at The Diabetes UnConference. If you’re interested in keeping up to date on the latest news, then you can subscribe to the newsletter (which is awesome, but I’m biased).

The early bird full registration of $139 per person will end on September 30, 2014. If you are on the fence (or applying for a scholarship), you can still register and if you receive a full scholarship, you will be refunded your registration fee.

Wait. What do I get for my registration fee?

  • Entrance to the Friday night Special Event
  • A spiffy t-shirt
  • Breakfast, lunch, and snacks on Saturday
  • Snacks on Sunday
  • Non-alcoholic beverages for the Saturday and Sunday conference (coffee, tea, soft drinks, etc.)
  • An exclusive special event on Saturday night from one of our sponsors that will make you feel like you’re on top of the world
  • Intimate access to certain companies who want to hear what you have to say about products and devices made for us
  • The feeling of safety and connection with others, knowing you can say just about anything related to living with diabetes and someone else “gets it”

Is it worth it?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

So, register. Apply for the scholarships. Get signed up for the newsletter. Tell your friends who have diabetes. Make it a “friends weekend”. Make it an “about me” weekend.

You won’t be disappointed.

 

Back to dLife… and An Update for The Diabetes UnConference

dLifeLogo A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I wrote a lifestyle column on dLife.com called Been There, Done That. I shared my ideas about living life with diabetes. As my career took different turns (and the miscarriages count piled up), it became more difficult to write. In fact, for a few years, I didn’t write anything that wasn’t related to my career.

My, how times have changed! How my life has changed!

I’m back to dLife as a columnist and if you’d like to see what I’ve written in the past as well as my latest articles, you can pop on over there and get your fill. They’ve got a lot of great resources (and some other columnists that you probably know already, like Kerri and Scott and Bennet and Will Dubois…)

I’m talking this month about making my decision about insulin pump therapy… The article is Eeny, Meeny, Miney…Pump. If you like it, let me know. If you don’t… let me know.

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And in The Diabetes UnConference news…

Holy wow, Batman. Remember how I said I was worried that no one was going to come?

I am so thrilled to find out that I’m wrong. (And as someone who hates to say “I’m wrong”… this is strange for me.)

People are registering. Lots of people. Registration has already surpassed my first goal and well on the way to my next goal. A sell out conference? It’s happening.

Registration has been open for a week and all I can say is that if you haven’t registered yet, please do so soon… there is a maximum number of attendees that the rooms can hold (and a maximum number of the rooms in our room block for The Diabetes UnConference that is rapidly filling up…).

So, if you haven’t registered yet, please… do that as soon as you can. I want to learn from you.

Lots of other fun things to talk about, but wanted to give you updates on dLife.com and The Diabetes UnConference. More to come soon!