Wow. That’s really the only word I have to sum up the amazing Weekend for Women with Diabetes that I just attended. BIG wow. Just a few years ago, the Behavioral Diabetes Institute started a luncheon for women with Type 1 diabetes. That first year, there were just a few of us gals gathered at a nice restaurant, exchanging stories and laughs and some tears about living with diabetes. My, how that little round table has changed.
Four years later, that little ladies lunch has morphed into an entire weekend-long convention for women with diabetes. There were seminars, guest speakers, exercise groups, vendors, and most important, a whole bunch of women with diabetes sharing with each other about exactly how they deal with this disease. There were more “ah-ha” moments than I could count, about a zillion “Thank god you get its,” and a truly profound sense that we are in this together, we are not alone, and that we can live well, very well in fact, with diabetes.
What amazed me most about this event, is how diverse the group was, yet how similar our struggles are. Although all ages and walks of life were represented, we all deal with the same BS of diabetes on a day to day basis. I was also impressed at how often this group laughed about diabetes – it’s like we needed permission to just crack some jokes about this disease! Some of my favorite quotes from the weekend included:
During the “Sexual issues and Type 1 diabetes Session,” we were bombarded with some depressing stats about women with diabetes and their love lives. Kerri Sparling from www.sixuntilme.com decided she needed something a little more cheerful and said “I need to hear some good stats, like maybe ‘Type 1 diabetics do it better?” She broke the ice and had us cracking up.
During the “Eating Issues and Type 1 Diabetes” session, one woman talked about struggling with eating during the night and the moderator very sincerely asked her: “So, are you are awake when you do this?”
During our the Technology Panel, one woman with Type 1 complained of having “lots of highs and lows” and that she wasn’t sure why that was and when it would go away and someone promptly responded “I think that’s because you have diabetes.” Amen sister!
During the Keynote talk by Anne Albright, PhD and Director of Division of Diabetes Translation at the CDC, she asked all of us to stand and sing along and dance to “Change the World” by Eric Clapton so that we’d have a physical memory of what we needed to do for the world of diabetes.
Bill Polonsky, founder of the BDI, gave a wonderful closing talk about the emotional side of diabetes and especially, how to handle the “Diabetes Police,” He said that someone saying “You seem upset, should you check your blood sugar?” to a person with diabetes has never, ever made someone LESS upset. So true Bill, so true.
I feel like there are no words big enough to explain the deep sense of respect, camaraderie, and inspiration I had from the Weekend for Women. Just knowing there are other women out there who have the same struggles as I do, the same successes and failures, the same questions, the burning desire to know how the heck to navigate this disease and the grace to understand that they simply cannot be perfect all the time is enough to make my heart soar, and set my mind at ease. That was a truly powerful group of women, all living very rich and wonderful lives, with diabetes.