The DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute and Weekend for Women Conference has been on my calendar for months, and I have been counting down the weeks and days. The car was packed, fur babies kissed…it was finally time to hit the road to Alexandria, VA. I was full of excitement, as this was my first time attending the Leadership Institute, and it has been many years since my last Weekend for Women Conference.
The weekend did not disappoint. Catching up with old friends, building your support network, learning and making new friendships. Even though you are meeting other women living with diabetes for the first time, you are not strangers. There is an immediate connection because you can truly relate to the highs and lows that this chronic disease can bring on a daily basis. While you can’t take a vacation from diabetes…the next best thing is the Weekend for Women. You are no longer the “odd” one…you are surrounded by follow carb-counters, and you can prick your finger to test without the stares.
I’m very passionate to help others living with diabetes. I believe the more you educate yourself on all aspects of controlling diabetes, the better you will be able to manage the disease. Knowledge is power. The Technology session was very interesting…sensors will probably replace meters and will be cheaper than test strips. Imagine no finger pricks for up to 10 days (unless you are experiencing a low) and waving your smartphone over a sensor to download your readings. The Abbott Freestyle Libre is currently being used by healthcare providers to help monitor and identify trouble spots for patients with type 2 diabetes, in addition to patients with type 1.It's exciting to hear about this CGM being used with type 2, and I’m hopeful insurers will cover the cost of the Libre for type 2.
This is a perfect segway for the importance of getting involved. We all have to advocate to make our lives better. Make it a habit to visit the DiabetesSisters website and Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition website to educate yourself on all topics. Download the DPAC app (not the Durham Performing Art Center!) to find out if your meter meets the accuracy standards…only 6 out of 16 meters passed. I know, it's scary. DPAC and others are working to get legislation passed requiring a “black box warning” on the failed meters, informing the consumer that the device should not be trusted to measure accurate results.
The biggest lesson for me was an exercise we did during the Leadership Institute…we had to pair up and take turns telling each other about a challenging time during our diabetes journey. Each person had 5 minutes to tell her story and the other person had to remain quiet. It is “normal” for us to interject with questions or a comforting word. It was difficult…found myself giving non-verbal cues…nodding my head, facial expressions trying to give assurance.
I worried that my partner thought I wasn’t listening, or not interested in her story. Then I learned that my perception was totally wrong and my partner felt closer to me after the exercise. This exercise gave me insight to listen more and let the person tell their story…don’t change their direction…wait to ask questions. It also gave me a new life-long friend…Thank you Robin Wright LCSW for being my partner…you are a beautiful woman inside and out!
Thank you DiabetesSisters for all you do for us…I'm proud to be a part of this invaluable organization.
~Donna Tucker, PODS Leader, DiabetesSisters of Cary/Apex, NC