Tagged: type 2 diabetes

Definition of Insanity: The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016

un-diabetes-conference-fullcolor-iconCall me insane. I’ll agree with you happily. 

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. (There are many who attributed that definition to Einstein or Twain, wrongly so, but it’s catchy and apropos, so who cares?)

The second Diabetes UnConference, held in Las Vegas from March 11 to March 13, 2016 proves that I am insane, because I wanted a different result.

The Diabetes Collective provides the framework, the facilitators, and many of the same topics. But what makes each conference different is the attendees and their inputs and insights. And not only was the conference different from the first held over a year ago, the outcome was different, too.

We had alumni return, volunteering their time to help ensure the “behind the scenes” items ran smoothly. They provided soothing continuity to me, a reminder that other people believe in this mission to provide safe, protective environments to talk about the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes with others impacted by diabetes. My facilitators, many of them alumni themselves, gave their all to guide the conversations around the topics the attendees chose.

And the new attendees were… breathtaking. Some knew what to expect because they had friends who attended last year, but others came bravely, baring their souls. They have won my heart with their willingness to participate and add their voices to our community.

We also included a new group: PLUs, otherwise known as People who Love Us. Spouses, siblings, parents and significant others joined us this year, creating their own safe space to share. Do I know what they discussed? Nope. I’m not a PLU and because we honor the policy of not sharing what is said inside the sessions, all I can tell you is that some powerful bonds were created.

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2,521 years of diabetes was the final total in the room.

Some triumphant years, some scary years, but when I looked at all the fortitude and determination in those faces surrounding me, I felt like there was nothing that we couldn’t do together. We had Joslin Medalists (50+ years) and those who had been diagnosed less than a year ago. Some Type 2, some Type 1, some who were impacted by diabetes in their lives but living with functioning pancreases. We can move mountains or, if nothing else, support each other through peer support.

Tears. Laughter. Anger. Frustration. All to be expected. After all, this is my tribe. And I love each of them not because of the connection… I love them for who they are at the very core of their beings – and it has nothing to do with diabetes. And what was different? Everything, because my tribe chose the topics and then bared their souls. New year, new souls.

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I look forward to growing our tribe at the next Diabetes UnConference in Atlantic City in September and being completely insane again.

Happily insane.

 

 

 

 

Bloodborne Infections from Diabetes Supplies? Yep. You read that right.

biohazard-3-1307153-640x480The longer I have diabetes, the more I learn about how we, as a community, have a lot to learn.

If you’ve ever been a patient at a hospital or a health clinic, you know that the goal is to send you home healthier than when you arrived.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen and PWDs are more susceptible. It’s not just blood glucose levels we need to worry about while we’re under a medical team’s care. We also have to worry about bloodborne virus transmissions. I didn’t know  until I started to do some research. What I found shocked me – and I’m sure it will shock you as well.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a bloodborne infection that can cause serious, deadly issues (think liver cancer or cirrhosis). It can be transmitted a number of ways, including sharing of needles or blood glucose testing equipment.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can survive outside the body at least 7 days and still be capable of causing infection. Think shared blood glucose testing equipment. Anywhere. Are you sure that the health care professional has washed his/her hands before putting on those gloves? Did you see them disinfect the BG meter? Are they using a single use lancet? Did an infected person’s blood land on the cart, then transferred blood to the new pair of gloves the team member just put on when he/she picked up the meter and moved the cart?

Even worse? Think about your kids letting a friend use a lancet device “just for fun.” Sadly, even kids can have Hepatitis B.

When you start to think about all the ways this virus can be transmitted, you might begin to feel sick to your stomach. (That’s one of the symptoms, by the way, but many of the symptoms are “run of the mill” when you have diabetes.)

But where it’s happening most often is long-term care facilities. And these are preventable.

Between 2008 – 2014, there have been 23 reported outbreaks, 175 outbreak-associated cases, >10,700 persons notified for screening. 17 of the outbreaks occurred in long-term care facilities, with at least 129 outbreak-associated cases of HBV and approximately 1,600 at- risk persons notified for screening. What should worry you is this next statistic:

82% (14/17) of the outbreaks were associated with infection control breaks during assisted monitoring of blood glucose (AMBG). (http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/healthcareoutbreaktable.htm)

There have also been cases of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C transmissions at hemodialysis clinics (and if you think that’s not diabetes related, think of how many of us may be on dialysis for kidney disease) and home healthcare agencies.

It’s not like nurses or doctors think: “How can I hurt patients today?” But these outbreaks are PREVENTABLE. How? By following proper infection protocol policies and training healthcare professionals and patients to not share needles or lancing devices (and a few more steps).

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking: “Why should I care about this?” Simple.

Someday, it could be you.

Or someone you love.

And if we don’t ensure that these infection risks are mitigated, then who will?

What You Can Do

DPAC_ASKanEXPERT_infectionJoin the online presentation of DPAC’s Ask The Expert presentation on Tuesday, January 26th at 12pm.

Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) went straight to the CDC and they’re pleased to have a passionate expert to share her thoughts and what we, as the patient community, can do.

Dr. Pamela Allweiss, MD, MPH, Medical Officer for the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will discuss the risks of virus transmission in healthcare settings (hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities) in the United States.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a serious threat to even the healthiest patients; people with diabetes are at higher risk than the general population. Did you know that there have been outbreaks of Hepatitis B in healthcare settings because of improper infection protocol and diabetes supplies?

During this presentation, you will have an opportunity to learn more about why this is happening in our healthcare system, ask questions, and discover how to mitigate these risks and ways to engage your state policymakers to enforce infection control protocols to ensure your safety.

Register by clicking here. Even if you can’t attend the live presentation, you can still send questions to info [at] diabetespac.org ahead of time and get a link to the recording after the presentation ends.

We’ve got enough to worry about. Let’s work to worry about one.less.thing.

 

5 Reasons Why YOU Should Attend The Diabetes UnConference

NYCYo.

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. 

Your 2016 Diabetes Conference Calendar!

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After not being able to find a single source for diabetes events and conferences that might be of interest for those who have diabetes and/or advocate for diabetes, I decided to create one. Begun in 2014, it’s become a popular rundown for all diabetes conferences and events that you might be interested in attending.

Ta-da.

Please note that this is U.S.-centric, as I currently live in the United States. (Most of me. My pancreas is currently on the lam somewhere where it cannot be extradited.) However, I have added some international conferences. Most of these can be attended by the hoi polloi, but some do require a medical designation/degree (although a press pass may provide entry). These are regional or national shindigs, not local groups or walks. 

If there is one that I have missed, please notify me at theperfectd [at] gmail [dot] com so I can add it. I will be updating this calendar throughout the year so I suggest you bookmark this page now. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.) 

Click on the title of the conference/event for the website link/additional information.


 

Want to help your fellow people impacted by diabetes by sharing this page on Twitter?

Simply click the birdie and let it automatically tweet this link for you.

Because you rock. 

Tweet: Your 2016 #Diabetes Conference Calendar is here: http://ctt.ec/H5uBi+ thanks to @theperfectdblog - bookmark it! #doc


 

 

January

52nd Annual Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology Conference (National Jewish Health) January 23 – 26, 2016 – Snowmass, CO

This conference is primarily for endocrinologists, primary care physicians, and other health care professionals with an interest in diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism. That being said, perhaps you want to mention it to YOUR healthcare team?

February

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) February 20, 2016 – Anchorage, AK

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

March

63rd Annual Advanced Postgraduate Course (ADA) March 4 – 6, 2016-  San Francisco, CA

A medical conference much like other scientific sessions, leading diabetes experts will give presentations on the latest in diabetes research and care, with small networking sessions thrown in for good measure. Targeted primarily for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, dietitians, pharmacists, psychologists, certified diabetes educators, and other health care professionals who care for patients with diabetes and who manage the complications related to this disease.

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) March 5, 2016 – Sacramento, CA 

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

15TH Annual Rachel Levine Diabetes & Obesity Symposium March 6 – 9, 2016 – Long Beach, CA

Made possible by the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, held in association with the Endocrine Society annual meeting and T1D Exchange. This is the meeting that I wish I could attend, because it covers some amazing topics, including “Lowering the Barrier of Entry and Long-Term Commitment of Pharma in Type 1 Diabetes” and Diabetes Technology (a topic near and dear to many of our hearts!).

The Diabetes UnConference March 10 – 13, 2016 – Las Vegas, NV

The first peer-to-peer idea exchange and support conference for all adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Unlike other conferences geared to patients, this conference has no keynotes or research/expert presentations; just discussions facilitated by those with diabetes about topics that may be difficult to have with people who don’t have diabetes!

The Diabetes Collective Pre-UnConference Sessions March 11, 2016 – Las Vegas, NV

Free and open to the general public, sessions will include Dr. Stephen Ponder’s Sugar Surfing, iLet information session, T1D and Pregnancy, policy advocacy, and more. Registration is required. This is for all adults impacted by diabetes. Childcare is not provided.

Bay Area Diabetes Summit March 13th, 2016 – San Francisco, CA

The Bay Area Diabetes Summit is a collaborative effort of medical providers, community organizations, and medical institutions throughout the Bay Area.

The Summit is open to all adults with T1D and their spouses, friends, and significant others, parents, caregivers, and family members of children with T1D. Children with T1D and their siblings can register for a Kids Camp offered by DYF counselors and staff.

April

ENDO 2016 (Endocrine Society) April 1 – 4, 2016 – Boston, MA

Remember that endocrinology is not just about diabetes; it’s about the entire endocrine system. While the annual conference does have diabetes sessions, it’s not the primary focus. There are a few pre-conference sessions focusing on diabetes and a few sessions during the conference.

Carb DM’s 4th Annual Mother-Daughter Weekend April 1-3, 2016 – Dublin, CA

This amazing event is for preteen/teen girls with T1D and their moms. This weekend focuses on T1D from a female perspective and addresses the female cycle from puberty to pregnancy and how it affects and is affected by T1D. Mother daughter communication, healthy body image, talking with peers and significant others about T1D, and more will be discussed.

Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Fall Church 2016 April 8 – 10, 2016 – Falls Church, VA

Three tracks will take you through technology, policy advocacy, Nightscout, and living with diabetes in this star studded conference near the nation’s capitol. Child care is available.

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) April 16, 2016 – Memphis, TN

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) April 30, 2016 – Honolulu, HI

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

GTC Diabetes Summit 2016 April 25-27, 2016 – Boston, MA

Got $2495? Then this conference is for you.

According to the website, that $2495 will get you research, partnership opportunities and network with academia, venture capital, government, small/medium size biotech, big pharma and healthcare organizations. The summit includes the Diabetes Drug Discovery and Development Conference, dealing with the clinical side of things. The Diabetes Partnering & Deal-Making Conference dives into opportunities for partnerships, funding, licensing, and the financial bits of it all.

May

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) May 21, 2016-  Washington, DC

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate! (They’re missing the entire southeastern portion of the United States.)

31h Annual Clinical Conference on Diabetes (ADA) May 26 – 29, 2016,  Ponte Vedra, FL

While not patient-centric, attendees will hear “cutting-edge research translated into clinical practice”. The 30th Annual Clinical Conference is designed specifically for primary care and diabetes specialty physicians, doctor of osteopathy, podiatrists, pharmacists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists and dietitians, certified diabetes educators and other health care professionals who care for patients with diabetes, at risk for diabetes, and who manage diabetes related complications.

AACE 25th Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) May 25 – 29, 2016 Orlando, FL

Endocrinology encompasses more than just diabetes. There will be many sessions on diabetes and other endocrine issues at this conference for medical professionals.

June

Students With Diabetes National Conference June 3 – 5, 2016 – Safety Harbor, FL

A conference for young adults aged 18 – 30 from all over the country who want to learn about the latest in technology, research, and more from many amazing speakers.

 76th Scientific Sessions (ADA) June 10-14, 2016 – New Orleans, Louisiana

The “big” medical conference. While not specifically designed for the layperson with diabetes, many advocates do attend and sit in on sessions. Many study results are presented. We expect to see some major announcements this year.

Western Slipstream (Connected in Motion) June 17 – 19, 2016 – Canmore, Alberta, Canada

If you’re sporty and love The Great White North (to which the latter I can wholeheartedly attest), then go hang out with other Type 1s and do some athletic stuff. Connected In Motion is an amazing organization for adults with Type 1 diabetes.

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) June 18, 2016-  San Antonio, TX

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

2016 ConnecT1D Retreat June 25 – 26, 2016 – Seattle/Bainbridge Island, WA

The 2016 ConnecT1D Retreat is a 1-2 Day retreat for adults, teens and young adults with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). It’s a weekend to share, learn and laugh with others who face the demands- and oddities- of the daily grind that is T1D.

July

Friends for Life July 5 – 10, 2016 (Children With Diabetes) – Orlando, FL 

This is the de facto gold standard for any family with diabetes. It’s being held this year at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Room rates are $169 + tax. This rate is available 3 days before and after the conference for those families who might want to extend their vacation. Self-parking is $18/day, with a 50% discount if you are in the room block.

Larger Suites may be reserved for hospitality events or entertaining, subject to availability. Suites are also available for larger families, again subject to availability. There are different types of suites and they have different prices; please contact the hotel directly for availability and pricing.

For housing reservations, call Marriott reservations directly at (888) 789-3090 or use Marriott’s Online Reservation System. If you are calling, be sure to say you are with the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference. The Children with Diabetes room block is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that you are only in the CWD room block – and only have the perks of being in the room block – if you make reservations through these phone numbers or website.

2016 Practical Ways to Achieve Targets in Diabetes Care July 14 – 17, 2016 – Keystone, Colorado

While not a patient conference, worth taking a look at to see what’s being discussed. “This course is designed to help healthcare providers caring for patients with diabetes, including but not limited to, endocrinologists/diabetes specialists, internists, pediatricians, family physicians, physician assistants, medical residents, fellows, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians and certified diabetes educators.”

Hodia DTreat 2016 July 15 – 17, 2016 – Boise, ID

Hodia DTreat is a diabetes retreat for young adults with T1 and their support persons aged 18-30 years old! Over the weekend you will have the opportunity to form relationships with others who get it, and talk truth about the issues facing people your age with T1D.

August

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) August 27, 2016 Corning, CA

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

AADE 16 (American Association  August 12 – 15, 2016 San Diego, CA

This is a conference for diabetes educators but patients are welcome to attend as well. The focus is on fostering better communication between patients and providers and helping educators to become integral parts of a patient’s care.

September

The Diabetes UnConference September 9 – 11, 2016 – Atlantic City, NJ

The first peer-to-peer idea exchange and support conference for all adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Unlike other conferences geared to patients, this conference has no keynotes or research/expert presentations; just discussions facilitated by those with diabetes about topics that may be difficult to have with people who don’t have diabetes!

Summer Slipstream (Connected in Motion) September 16 – 18, 2016 – Ontario, Canada

If you’re sporty and love The Great White North (to which the latter I can wholeheartedly attest), then go hang out with other Type 1s and do some athletic stuff. Connected In Motion is an amazing organization for adults with Type 1 diabetes.

Friends for Life Anaheim 2016 September 16 – 18, 2016 – Anaheim, California 

Registration has not opened yet. This will be updated when the registration link becomes available.

52nd EASD Annual Meeting  (European Association for the Study of Diabetes) – Munich, Germany

This is the European “big” medical conference, much like ADA’s Scientific Sessions.

October

Slipstream in the US (Connected in Motion) October, 2016 – TBA

Connected In Motion is an amazing organization for adults with Type 1 diabetes and they’ll be coming to the US to do something athletic. At this time, no further information regarding dates, place, or cost has been released, but by bookmarking this page, you can come back and check!

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) October 1, 2016 – San Diego, CA

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!

Canadian Diabetes Association CDA/CSEM Professional Conference October 26 – 29, 2016 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The “big” medical conference in Canada. While not specifically designed for the layperson with diabetes, many advocates do attend and sit in on sessions.

November

TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) November 19, 2016 –  Orlando, FL

TCOYD is a one-day program with tracks for both Type 1 and Type 2 individuals (and their friends and family, of course). Those who attend will have opportunities to learn about the latest tools, tips, techniques, and technology to help live healthier lives with diabetes. What I love about this program is that it was founded and is run by physicians who have intimate knowledge of diabetes; they have the disease! Many of the speakers also have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so it’s not as if it’s a “do as I say and not as I do, because I don’t have a clue” program. If you have one coming to your area, you’re fortunate!


 

Want to help your fellow people impacted by diabetes by sharing this page on Twitter?

Simply click the birdie and let it automatically tweet this link for you.

Because you rock. 

Tweet: Your 2016 #Diabetes Conference Calendar is here: http://ctt.ec/B6b7I+ thanks to @theperfectdblog - bookmark it! #doc


 

PLEASE NOTE:

I did not include “invite only” conferences.

As always, there are bound to be more opportunities to meet other people with diabetes, learn about the disease, and advocate. These are just a few. As I hear of more, I’ll post them here. And if you’re interested in getting your national/regional event on the list, please contact me at theperfectd [at] gmail.com and let’s talk.

#DiabetesDivide – How to Close The Gap

sidewalk-crumble-1487848-640x480I’m at the airport, waiting to get on a flight to NYC for The Diabetes Divide: Cities, Inequality, and the Spread of The Disease event hosted by The Atlantic and underwritten by Novo Nordisk US and thoughts about the upcoming discussions have actually prevented me from sleeping soundly. Why? Because we have a divide and the solution to close the gap isn’t simple.

Here’s the description of the event:

Diabetes is a serious public health challenge: 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 86 million more are pre-diabetic. Worse, the disease disproportionately strikes racial minorities, and trends show that diabetes prevalence is growing at an alarming rate in urban areas. How do socioeconomic, racial and geographic factors shape how the epidemic is being addressed in urban communities — and perceived by the general public?

In a town hall event with community leaders, patients, public health experts and more, The Atlantic will consider the social determinants of diabetes, and what they require of the response.

The “patients” on the discussion surrounding Citizens and Diabetes are Kelly Close of Close Concerns and diaTribe and me. We’ve been paired with a physician from Mount Sinai and the VP of Healthy Lifestyles, YMCA New York. The topic will be moderated and truth? I have no idea how the conversation will unfold.

There is a divide. Culture, race, perceptions, health insurance, food deserts, and motivation all play a part in the rise of Type 2 diabetes. These are the questions that caused my insomnia:

  • How do you change a society that values convenience?
  • How do you entice someone making minimum wage to purchase “healthy” food choices when few restaurants and grocery stores offer them at a reasonable price?
  • How do you counter cultural pressures surrounding food? (Imagine a 45 year-old construction worker saying to his friends: “Hold on while I run into the bodega and grab a kale salad with chicken and an apple for lunch.”)
  • How do you test individuals for pre-diabetes when they can’t afford to go to a clinic?
  • How do you explain to the healthcare system that simply telling an individual to lose weight and get some exercise is not going to change behaviors?
  • How do you get someone to take time out of their lives to do diabetes education programs or diabetes prevention programs when they’re working two jobs to feed their family?
  • How do you tell someone to walk a half-hour each day when there is no safe place for them to walk?
  • How do you “market” diabetes in way that truly matters?
  • How do you teach children that Type 2 diabetes does not have to be an inevitability in their lifetime when the latest statistics show that 1/3 of kids and adolescents are overweight or obese and they’re not getting enough physical activity?

Cities Changing Diabetes is a project that was begun by NovoNordisk and other partners looking for solutions. They understand that it takes more than one organization to attack this issue, so they are working with healthcare, non-profits, and social services organizations to combat the rise. It’s also important to note that rural areas have their own issues. Another time, another event.

My type of diabetes was not caused by race, weight, or sedentary lifestyle. (My beta cells left the pancreas party and never came back.) Type 2 diabetes is also not caused by race, weight, or sedentary lifestyle.

I don’t believe in the “You ate too much sugar and you are lazy. That’s why you have diabetes.” These can be contributing factors, but Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that can, in many cases but not all, be prevented with small changes to every day life. (And more importantly, shaming and blaming individuals with Type 2 diabetes is also a cultural issue that needs addressing.)

How do we make a difference? Good question. I’m hoping for answers at this event and ways that I can help my diabetes community become healthier – and maybe prevent the community from growing larger. We’re a great group of people, but I’d like to keep it as exclusive as possible. The cost to enter this club is pretty expensive.

If you want to watch the event, you can register here. (You can see me be nervous live!)