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Being an Adult at Children With Diabetes.

In the years I've attended CWD's Friends for Life conference, I always came away with this appreciation for what the conference provides for kids with diabetes, and their parents.  Kids - a whole bunch of them - running amuck and clad in green bracelets with pump tubing flapping from underneath their t-shirts ... it's a place where these families hopefully feel normal, and safe, and understood. 

But I'm not a kid with diabetes.  I'm an adult.  (I checked, and it's true: adult.)  I always felt welcomed at past FFL conferences, but people constantly checked for the kid at my side, because the "child with diabetes" surely couldn't be me.  (And then there was that time that the registration lady thought Sara(aah) was my child with diabetes, wherein my head exploded.)

Growing up with diabetes isn't hard.  It isn't easy.  I can't assign adjectives to it because it's all I've ever known, so growing up with diabetes is exactly synonymous to "just plain growing up."  My friends didn't have to take injections or chase NPH peaks, but we were in the same classes and rode the same bus and went on the same field trips, so we were "the same."  The difference, at that point in my life, was in what my parents had to do. 

Adulthood with diabetes is challenging, sometimes.  I had the support of my parents and my PWD friends at Clara Barton Camp when i was growing up, but once I was spit out into the real, grown-up world, things got more complicated.  I was on my own, following my own path, but I needed to bring along this bit of pancreatic baggage on the journey.  Even with my parents, and my friends, and my significant others along the way, I still had that nagging feeling of loneliness.

Except there are those moments when I'm surrounded by "my own kind."  And those moments are incredible.

This past summer at Friends for Life, there were a lot of us.  A whole pile of adults with type 1, found in sessions together, and strolling through the exhibit hall together, and corralled around a table into the wee hours of the morning; talking and testing and BEEEEEEEP!ing and despite our difference in opinion and background, we are all "the same."

We felt normal. And safe.  And understood.

It feel so good to talk about depression.  It felt so good to talk about the stress and guilt of aiming for, but rarely reaching, those goals set by healthcare professionals.  Even though I couldn't stop crying, it felt good to talk about parenting with type 1.  When someone's pump or CGM beeped, it felt good that fifteen different people reached for their pockets at once (only to realize it was - gasp! - just a cell phone).  Empowerment comes in many forms, and at the Friends for Life conference, for me, it came in the form of my fellow grown ups with type 1.  They are doing this, and I can do this, too.

Children with diabetes grow up. That's the point, right? - to have your child grow up happy and healthy and safe.  Children with diabetes become adults with diabetes.  There are already discussions in place about what adults with type 1 want to hear about next year.  Adults with diabetes finally have a place to call home. 

Thank you, CWD, for not letting your name limit your reach.

The Adults with Type 1 MeetUp at FFL.  Boo yeah!!


Sounds like you had a supportive visit--glad to hear it.

Can you comment at all on the young lady with the lab on the far right of the picture--is that one of the service dogs trained to detect a low blood sugar? I find this to be remarkable, and was just curious.

Sounds awesome! Nicely put! Wish I could have been there!

I have wanted to attend CWD since my son was daignosed with T1. However, he is attending Camp Joslin currently and hopefully having a great time.

awesome awesome awesome. :)

I attended the 2010 CFL, as a Type I adult. I wasn't able to attend this year. I am going to have to start saving my money so I can attend next year's CWD - given the new bunch of activities for us adults! Will it also be held at Coronado Springs? Last year's was not, and I would like to have a chance to experience it.

Oh gosh...this made me happy. I have recently emerged into the JOE has to deal with this for the rest of his life phase...I don't have it phase. I think it goes hand-in-hand with his independence with his "D" care evolving. Love you...continue to inspire...you do that for us all...you know? xo

As the mother of an 11 year old with T1, this brings a tear to my eye. Yes, the point is to have them grow up to be happy and healthy and safe, but it's hard not to want to help carry the burden forever. Glad to know there are places for adult PWD too.

My husband and I attend an Adult T1 support group. I am the T1. I love taking with the other T1s and my husband loves talking with the spouses of the T1s. We all understand eachother!!:)

Great perspective! Your blog was the 1st I found when our son was dx'ed (at 14 months - he's now 3), and posts like this provide great perspective. Thank you! And - you need to do a TED talk sometime!

Nice to read this. Awesome.....

Amazing post again.

I would love to visit an event like this. But! The majority of the Adults with Type 1 in your picture are my daughter's age.

My suggestion for your next seminar would be How to be come a middle aged Type 1.

Fantastic post, Kerri. So sad I missed it this year! Maybe they should consider changing their name to "PWD," ay?

WOW - *just* how I feel at ADD conferences! There is simply NOTHING like finding your tribe, is there? Even people I probably wouldn't care much about if they were NOT in the tribe become bosom buddies because of what we DO have in common.

To my mind, God's purpose for "disabilities" of all sorts is to FORCE us into community - that "love thy neighbor" stuff that's so much easier to say than to do.

GREAT site, Kerri. Good job!
mgh (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC - blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld - dot com!)

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