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CWD: My First Time.

My diabetes greeting card.Up until last week, I had never been to a CWD event before.  I had heard about them through the diabetes community, and I knew that many of the parents who were reading my blog were members of the CWD forums.

Now I know why people are so into CWD.  It's like coming home.

These people get it.  I've said that before about my best friends, who do their best to understand the subtleties of diabetes, and about my wonderful co-workers, who go to great lengths to know what a real "dLife" might be like. But the parents and children at the CWD conference are the ones on the front line, the folks who are living with this disease every single day, either as the diabetic themself or the caregiver of a PWD.

The CWD Friends for Life conference in Orlando is filled with parents who care.  With kids who boop beep boop and shunk and who know the carb content in their favorite breakfast cereal.  With grandparents who can proudly program a pump, or siblings who know how to treat their brother or sister's low blood sugar.

It's also filled with some of the diabetes medical community's finest, with Fran Kaufman, Bruce  Buckingham, Richard Rubin, and Barbara Anderson among the faculty.  I attended several focus groups about diabetes and pre-pregnancy planning, CGM use, and the artificial pancreas.  (The groups deserve their own posts, so more on those later in the week.)  I also had a chance to meet with some of d-blogging's most friendly faces, like Manny from TuDiabetes and Sara from Moments of Wonderful

The first focus group I attended was about Diabetes and the Web, which has people talking about websites they frequent for their diabetes care.  A little girl sitting in front of me, about 8 years old and with an insulin pump clipped to her shorts, said "I visit dLife to find recipes I can eat."  My heart swelled with pride. 

They asked us to envision cards we'd receive from our endocrinologists or CDEs.  "What kind of card would you want to receive from your doctor?"  Even though the group was dominated by children, there were several adults (myself and Manny included) who grabbed for the crayons with vigor.  

The front of my card read:  "Do you have diabetes?"

Inside:  "You are still YOU."

After sharing our cards with the group, the leader asked when we'd want to receive these cards.  On our diagnosis anniversary?  After we have an A1c done?  When we're feeling frustrated?

"I'd take these cards anytime.  Randomly, monthly ... daily."  I said. 

A father in the group laughed.  "Me, too." 

I've said it before and I'm sticking with it:  Diabetes doesn't define me, but it helps explain me.  And attending this conference drove that point home.  I was one of many, united by a common medical bond, but I was still me.  A pump in my pocket, a meter in my bag, and two decades of diabetes under my belt - but I was still me.  And I wasn't alone.

Thanks for the warm welcome, CWD. 

(I have a Flickr set of the conference online now - feel free to poke through if you have time.  More on the conference to come!)

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Errr, just left a comment, but got an error message - so trying again!!

How cool it must have been to be there. I look forward to reading more about your week!!!

I spent most of this week wishing I was there. Next year for sure!

Sounds like a great time.

I hope to make it down with the family for a conference someday.

Hi Kerri, thanks for posting our picture together!! It was awesome to meet you!

It was SO cool meeting you and the gang there!!

Yeah, I get that feeling any time I with another PWD. It really kind of sucks, in a way, but for the most part, it's fantastic. Like coming home is it exactly. Except that I usually wind up crying. Like now....

I am struggling to write my 'real' post about the event. It was so encouraging and uplifting and I don't even know how to put it into words.

Next stop: diabetes blogger cruise!

You are correct in saying that "diabetes doesn't define me but helps explain me." However, it does feel a lot better being around others who actually understand you without you having to explain yourself!

Beautiful post!

The conference was so inspiring and uplifting. It surpassed all my expectations and it was such a pleasure meeting you and everyone there!

BTW, I'm totally "on board" for planning that cruise.

Wow, I can't wait to hear more about the conference. Since I know it's not just for teens now I think I might just go next year or to a future CWD event. Glad you had a spectacular time!!

Great post. I am sad not to be at CWD this year, looks like we are missing a lot. Glad you got to meet Amany, she is a good friend and great person.
Talk soon,

I'm with George - I spent all week wishing I was there but it wasn't happening for us. Next year, I'm already booked. :)

Sooo jealous but I'm glad you had a good time. I'll be looking forward to more posts about the focus groups.

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