ADA TeenBetic Dance, JDRF Speakers Offering Hope for the Future! A Full Day of Diabetes!

membersWhat an amazing day it has been! I have been moved, motivated, and reminded about life with diabetes. Today’s events enabled me to consider everything about this life, all the good and the bad! I attended the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Desert Southwest’s chapter for their Type One Nation event at the JW Marriott Camel back Inn in Paradise Valley, AZ earlier today. I saw so many people that I know and met a great group of new friends. I had the opportunity to attend interesting breakout sessions and listen to fabulous speakers!
I found it moving as I listened to Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE talk about life with diabetes 30 years ago vs. today. I could literally see the room divide into two groups as we listened. There were us old hats that had “been there, done that” and the rest of the group! Now this second group subdivides into the true “newbies” and then those that are in the approximately 10 yr dx and younger group. It was interesting to watch the parents in this group. Their jaws dropped as Gary held up examples of the old Autolet, the glass syringes, and the size of the Glucometers. They listened to the routines of the old and outdated diabetic exchange system and couldn’t imagine dealing with that process for themselves or their children. The idea of managing life with diabetes without Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs), insulin pumps, rapid fast acting insulin, or long acting that doesn’t peak made, for confused, shocked, and in awe expressions.

The “been there” group simply smiled, laughed a bit, and then I watched the expressions of emotions cross their faces. For me it was a mixture of emotions that I couldn’t even pin down exactly. Astonishingly, I was so glad I had to go through the old times. I can look at almost any plate and know the approximate number of grams of carbohydrates, protein, fat, etc. I have no fear of the needles of today, the blood drops, the intimidating equipment, or the concept of strangers watching me as I take care of my health in public places. I have already been there and done that! Simultaneously I was grateful that I have passed that time period. I am grateful that I am healthy and get to experience this new generation of diabetes. It is both easier and more difficult for kids these days. Today offers better, less painful, and more accurate technology. It also allows the world access to almost every physical state that your body has been through and records what actions you have taken in that process. Talk about the eye of Big Brother! I love that I can help navigate the emotions and frustrations of kids, teens, and burned out adults, because I have “been there”!

I also sat in awe at the possibilities. The saying “This is the decade of the cure” causes many of us to laugh. I have sat through many seminars introducing the old Glucowatch, the inhaled insulins, and many more promises that have come and gone. The current artificial pancreas study is inspiring and left me in awe. Now, I happen to know a little girl that participated in this study. I have been privileged enough to have heard her talk about it. She is amazing. Today however, a grown man with many more years of experience under his belt spoke. Scott Scolnick talked about the emotional roller coaster that came about during and after his trial with the artificial pancreas. This spoke to so many of us. Newer parents had tears in their eyes for the future possibilities for their kids. Those of us older, could feel the emotion about the concept of more freedom (mentally and emotionally), the reality of coming back to the normal world and the possibility of experiencing a very small break in our otherwise exhausting routine! New parents identify with this, but not to the same extent as a person living with it for decades. I felt a surge of belief in the possibilities for the world of diabetes agian. I haven’t felt that in quite a long time and it was refreshing.
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Tonight I also am chaperoning the Phoenix American Diabetes Association’s TeenBetic Dance. This is the third year that I have helped with this dance. I love the organizers, the facility, and these kids in attendance. I have gotten to really know many of them over the last few years and it is fun! I am truly watching the new phase of life with diabetes. Teenage years are some of the hardest years! I am watching these kids and empathize with so many. Dances are fun and difficult at the same time. Dancing with pumps, tubes, CGMs, and going high and low throughout the few hours with increased activity can be hard for anyone living with diabetes. Most of these kids know each other from summer camps. Others are braving it for the first time. It is so much easier to be silly, dance, and just hang out with others that are the same. Nobody here cares if you need to stop and BG check or if you want to let your pump tube simply hang out of your clothes. Nobody even notices. There are food and beverage tables as well as the “Low Bar” table that has all things needed for a low BG. DSC_0417
These kids struggle with the same emotions as the speaker earlier today discussed about having diabetes 30 years ago. These emotions don’t really change that much. It doesn’t seem to matter if you tested your BG with urine, gave shots, use a pump, or are on one of the many the trials for the next miracle!

Watching these kids tonight brings me back to center. This morning I was inspired and motivated for the possibilities of the future and our health. Tonight I am thankful that these kids have better technology and more understanding of diabetes in the general community at large. I love that I am able to hang out with these kids, laugh, check my own BG at the dance, munch on a red vine from the Low bar, and can set an example of how it can be done. So far, I made it through the past decades and I look forward to the possibilities of tomorrow. I am thankful that I am healthy and “have been there, done that”! DSC_0411

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