I had the privilege and honor of going to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada this past weekend for a wonderful conference put on by a newer organization for people ages 18 to 30 who have type 1 diabetes. The organization is called Young and T1 and was founded and is led by two amazing, energetic t1’s, Ramya Chittaranjan and Ben Mammon. I attended as one of their speakers and workshop leaders. I flew in on Saturday and had dinner with the organizing committee and Olympic rower and founder of another very cool Canadian diabetes organization, I Challenge Diabetes, Chris Jarvis. The conversation at dinner never stopped and while we were eating a few of the group tested out the delivery rate of their insulin pumps by having an impromptu race! It was really funny to see them all with their tubing out in front of them, checking to see if they changed their basal rates, if their pumps delivered the insulin at different rates! Turns out there was no discernible difference! The dinner was hosted by Arlene Beitel, who herself has had type 1 for 33 years and she works for Medtronic Diabetes, one of the sponsors for the event.
On Sunday, I got up early and did my morning stretching and dancing warm up for the day. I also did a 30 minute meditation session, to get myself grounded and mentally and emotionally ready for the day. The mantras I set for the day were, “I radiate truth.” and “I radiate strength and support.” I made the mental commitment to greet everyone I met by saying in my head to them, “Namaste.” or, in English, “The sacred in me, greets the sacred in you.”
We got to the Olympic Village, where the conference was held and everything was happily buzzing! Over 80 people attended the event and folks were arriving and the energy was alive and very happy! Ramya and Mitchell Mammel, Community Outreach Coordinator of Young and T1, MC’d the day and they got things rolling. The first speaker was Dr. Brian Rodrigues, PhD who is examining how excess fats can lead to cardiac arrest. I liked the hopeful part of his presentation, where he encouraged us to give up soda and to exercise and eat healthy!! Always solid guidance!!
Then I was up! In my talk, I told my diabetes story and the story of the impact of growing up with a father who had hypoglycemic unawareness and yearly, or more often, was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. And then getting diabetes myself, and running my blood sugars high to avoid low blood sugar. The audience responded well, and I felt great talking. I was nervous going into the talk, as I usually am! And I was very happy that it went well and I was able to talk about finding my Inner Athlete and how finding her has made all the difference in managing diabetes and surviving cancer twice.
Lunch and socializing was next! I met some wonderful people. And I got a chance to talk to the Animas representative about the Vibe Insulin Pump that integrates the pump and the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose meter. I can hardly wait until it’s approved by the FDA and is available to us here in the USA!!! I hope to be one of the first in line to get one!
Next up was the fabulous Tony Cervati, endurance mountain bike rider and founder of Type 1 Rider and The Blue Heel Society. I particularly enjoyed the passion and energy that Tony has as he tells about his cycling adventures and how he found an endocrinologist who helped him figure out his nutrition and insulin strategies to successfully complete several 24 hour mountain bike events and do several long distance, self supported mountain bike rides. Tony lives and breathes bikes!! And he cares deeply about living a full and healthy life as an athlete with diabetes.
Then the star of the show, Dr. Beverly Adler, PhD, CDE, who talked about Diabetes & Depression: From Hopeless to Hopeful. I really enjoyed her talk, as she introduced me to Dr. William Polonsky from The Behavioral Diabetes Institute. I took notes during her talk and I particularly enjoyed how she introduced me to the concept of Diabetes Specific Distress that arises from the Emotional Burden, the Physician Related Distress, the Regime Related Distress and the Interpersonal Distress of living with diabetes. Dr. Bev talked about how she uses cognitive behavior therapy to help her clients negotiate the distress of living with diabetes. One profound insight I gained while listening to Dr. Bev, is that I am constantly changing my thoughts about what it is like for me to live with diabetes. And in this regard, I have managed for the 33 years I’ve been living with diabetes, to keep a positive attitude and maintain compassion toward myself as I navigate the craziness of living between the lines of type 1 diabetes.
For the rest of the afternoon, conference participants attended short round table workshops about pregnancy and diabetes, exercise and nutrition, tax dollars with diabetes, sex, drinking and diabetes, and listening to your body. I had a great time hosting a table and meeting so many thoughtful, kind, and interested in their well-being young people who all had type 1.
Then it was time to head to the airport and fly home! I was so impressed with the recycling system everywhere in Vancouver that I had to snap a photo for you! I care deeply about Planet Earth and about my body, so this was very inspiring too!
Now I’m home and I’m getting ready for my next adventure. I’m heading to San Diego tomorrow for the Aligning Forces for Quality National Conference. I’m attending as a Consumer Representative. More on how it goes as the week goes by! Thank goodness this week is a Rest Week in my 100 mile bike ride training plan!!