I arrived in San Diego for the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Meeting, #AADE16, and immediately went to the special event for the #DSMA Live Twitter Chat “Taking the Online, Offline.” I have never been able to take part in #DSMA before due to commute/schedule/timezone stuff, and haven’t attended AADE before this year, either. But there was no reason to worry – it was an engaging and important kickoff to great diabetes conference.
One overall theme with several questions devoted to it was #languagematters: what words, used by whom, in which contexts, help or hinder people with diabetes to move toward their treatment/management goals. You can check out the entire #DSMA transcript here, and for a handout to share with your healthcare providers about the diabetes online community and social media, click here.
Stigma and language in diabetes were also central points for a group of us that gathered with Team Novo Nordisk, leaders from AADE, and a multitude of diabetes orgs to discuss a united, thoughtful, coordinated movement to change the conversation around diabetes. Encouraged by the position statement of Diabetes Australia, as well as Team Novo Nordisk, it sounds like a joint position statement from AADE and the American Diabetes Association could result.
The next morning I went to an overflowing standing-room-only session on the impact of interrupted, insufficient sleep on metabolism, obesity, type 2 diabetes risk, and glucose management, presented by Terese Hammond, Keck School of Medicine of USC. The session was a well-presented great deal of well-documented findings, which I’ll just break down as such: The window of “enough” sleep is between 7 – 9 hours for most of us older than 18. Too little, or too much, sleep is associated with negative or poor health outcomes: higher blood glucose, higher HbA1c, slower metabolism, higher incidence of obesity. Getting less than optimal sleep also impacts our appetites, including what kinds of food we find desirable and how much of it we want to eat.
Essentially, sleep needs to be considered as another important factor in our diabetes management. We can discuss with our medical providers and there are behavioral ways to help increase our time in the “enough sleep” window such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): relaxation training, mindfulness, progressive relaxation, biofeedback, and self-hypnosis.
Anna was a busy bee at AADE as well. She presented on a panel entitled “The Potent Power of Patient Leadership” with Jeff Hitchcock (Children with Diabetes Foundation), Christina Roth (College Diabetes Network), Bennet Dunlap (Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition), Gene Kunde (Diabetes Hands Foundation), moderated by Manny Hernandez (Livongo Health) on Saturday afternoon. Anna and Susan Weiner presented a poster on Sunday entitled “Planning for a Healthy Pregnancy in Women with Type 1 Diabetes,” and Susan took a few moments to interview Anna for a fun segment on EndocrineToday. The poster resulted from our latest report (more on that in the next section).
DiabetesSisters had staff and volunteers on hand to speak with the hundreds of visitors at our exhibit booth this year: Heather Gabel, Erika Armani, Cindi Campaniello (Karen Graffeo too!) were such able and inspired DiabetesSisters representatives throughout #AADE16. We spoke with certified diabetes educators, endocrinologists, dieticians, physician assistants, nonprofit orgs, and companies with products for people with diabetes. We also gave away more than 200 flash drives with our new report, and got many new additions to our eNewsletter database at the same time.
Several of us had the opportunity to hear renowned author and speaker Riva Greenberg and her partner, Boudewijn Bertsch, present a session called Working from a New Mindset: Flourishing with Diabetes. This session was exciting not only because it’s Riva’s latest work and we love to hear what she’s thinking, but also because she is our closing keynote for the 2016 DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute, which will take place in a month. It was great to hear a little of what she’ll bring to the PODS Leaders who come to the Institute.
On the last day, I spent about 3 hours walking the exhibit hall floor and talking with many vendors and representatives of nonprofit diabetes orgs who are interested in, and supportive of, DiabetesSisters. It was an honor to represent our org, let them know who we are and what we do, and hear their stories as women with diabetes or people who love women with diabetes. They reiterated what we know but really appreciate hearing again and again: Peer support is incredibly important to all of us, and especially to women living with diabetes and prediabetes. There is much more to be done. DiabetesSisters is doing good work, and we are needed.
Thank you to AADE for allowing me to attend as a member of the press - the only way a nonprofit like DiabetesSisters can possibly participate.