Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 Diabetes Expo in Beantown

Warning: This will be a sentimental post!
This semester, I've had the opportunity to intern with the American Diabetes Association as the Community Initiative Intern and thus far it has been the best job I've EVER had. The opportunity to work closely with an organization which works to combat an illness you live with everyday is an experience unlike any other. Even when I am assigned the most boring, tedious tasks I reflect on the opportunity that has been given to me and I realize that every thing I do there eventually comes back to me in the form of the support or advocacy that the ADA provides.

For the past 2 and a half months, the office has been crazy working to plan the Diabetes Expo for 2008. I was lucky to be able to see both sides of this massive day of everything diabetes. I helped with the planning and execution and also attended and worked the event for the first time. It was held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston and it has taken me days to reflect on everything I experienced.

First, I was asked by my supervisor to be in ADA World as the point person for the Community Initiative table. I was NERVOUS. I had no idea what the event would be like, I had only heard rumors from staff about how crazy it can get...Basically, I was freaking out when I arrived AND therefore, my blood sugar shot up to 271. I arrived with my parents and pretty much, refused to let my mom leave my side for about the first 45 minutes (i'm a momma's girl, what can i say?). I arrived early so I decided to walk around and check everything out. First, I went to the Volunteer lounge to look for a small snack or drink because I was shakin' like a leaf...I walked in to see my arch nemesis....a basket chock full of BAGELS. Now I'm a New Yorker so I loooooove me some bagels with cream cheese, however my Insulin Pump just cannot handle that load of carbs, its one of those foods that no matter how you bolus, how much you bolus..you will never have a normal Blood Sugar after. Alright so after that, I grabbed a cup of tea and headed straight for the OmniPod table.

Now, I know I wrote my last post about the joys of the OmniPod but on this particular day..I was slightly ticked off about my pod. The day before I had to go through 3 pods before I finally got one on that wasn't defective. I don't mind having defective Pods because OmniPod is great about replacing them..my problem is the waste of insulin. Last time I tried to refill my prescription it was before the 90 days was up..and then had to worry about not getting it, etc. So I marched over to the table and all my worries went away after talking to the representative that sold me my Pod. He was wonderful, he even told me about some job opportunities and we've followed up with emails. So after talking to him, I felt much better.

Ok so I did a little more walking around and then heading to my post in ADA World because I was excited to start meeting people. I left my parents with a mission: to get me as many pamphlets and free stuff as possible!! Ok so now, I'll tell you about what it was like working the table. It was incredible, it was amazing to tell someone I was diabetic and have them say "Me Too!!" It was nice to meet people who wanted to learn more, I had people ask me the difference between Type 1 and Type 2...which was refreshing because normally, people often assume that I have Type 2. Some people just made me want to cry because I felt so hopeful. I met one man who was in his fifties and had been diagnosed as the age of 16 (just like me), it was so cool so hear his story because he has been through many of the things I will soon encounter as a college graduate. His A1C was in the 6's which made me feel like...Hey! If he can have diabetes for 20-30 years and have a great A1C..So can I! The most emotional thing to see is all the small children who have diabetes and their parents. I feel blessed to have been diagnosed at an age where I understood that my life was going to change and was ready to accept it, it truly breaks your heart to see these babies who will have to deal with diabetes their whole childhood. It gave me insight on how my parents must feel...its this overwhelming desire to just like...take your pancreas out and say HERE TAKE THIS! YOU NEED IT MORE THAN I DO! I even met a fellow 20 something diabetic who was shared my frustrations about the lack of outreach to all us young betes people! We exchanged emails and it's been great talking to her. Unfortunately, the woman I worked with at the table was ignorant and self-promoting...but I don't even want to waste space acknowledging her stupidity.

Working that event, I truly had one of the most amazing days of my life. I felt blissfully happy when I left and that feeling has carried with me. It's strange but I have suddenly transitioned from feeling lost and alone in the diabetes world to feeling overwhelmed by the amount of people who have reached out to me. Most days, I felt like I was walking around completely closed-off, I didn't want anyone to penetrate the vulnerability that comes with having a chronic illness. It was wonderful to see my my parents were affected, I felt so lucky having them there to share in this event with me. I love days like this that make your cheeks hurt and your tears flow because you are just so DAMN happy!

I'll end this post with a quote that I think reflects the journey that is finding the lovin' in being a betes' queen;

"Some pursue happiness, others create it!"


p.s. go to diabetes.org to learn about Expo's in your area..don't pass up this opportunity!


1 comment:

snd1590 said...

Hey I found your blog through diabetesmine.com .. It's cool to have another young person blogging! (I'm 17) I loved this entry too.. I volunteered at the diabetes expo in Philadelphia in November and had much of the same feelings because I'd always felt kind of alone in the diabetes world too.. then suddenly there were a ton of people there who could empathize! Anyway, I'm glad you're sharing your experiences and I look forward to reading more :)