The first word that comes to mind is, Wow!!!! This past week in Orlando at Friends For Life (FFL) was more amazing than I ever could have imagined!!!! I knew I would meet some amazing people but I wasn't sure I'd get to meet the first D bloggers I found after diagnosis and my D idols, Kerri Sparling and Scott Johnson!!!! They are just as down to earth and amazing as their blogs suggest!!! I found their blogs when I first came home from the hospital after my pancreatectomy and was told my islet cell transplant had failed, so that now I had surgical, type 1 diabetes. I was so in denial still, although I was testing and dosing my MDI (only because I was terrified if of what would happen if I didn't), which I hated every minute of!! But, luckily, I had the foresight to read a little and then a lot about T1D.
My name badge which everyone had to wear for ID and for getting into sessions and meals, labeled me as a "First Timer" which I was a little embarrassed about at first but soon realized it was a great idea! People I didn't know would come up to me and welcome me to the conference. It was so nice!! And other first timers would recognize each other and could meet up and form a special bond of understanding how it all was a little overwhelming at first until we caught on and learned the lay of the land!!
I attended MasterLab which was amazing and awesome at the same time. Awesome speakers and a great panel discussion, not to mention the great meals we were provided. (Although the cookies were dangerous to my blood sugars even when properly calculated and bloused for!) I also spent some time at the Glu table performing my newly acquired Glu Ambassador duties. I'm embarrassed to say that although I'm familiar with what Glu and T1D Exchange does, I wasn't sure how to sum it up in a nutshell,l so people don't get bored with my explanation, thereby deciding not to join this amazing nonprofit!! So, I watched the masters at work, Anna Floreen and Bill Woods, more affectionately known as GluAnna and GluBill. They taught me a lot for my upcoming stint at a local SLAM event in Canton, MA. Now, I'm hoping I can be more effective there!! They were so much fun to be around and I was happy I got the time to spend with them!!
I went to many of the warm and fuzzy sessions, "Support For The Long Haul ", "Social Media 1 & 2", and "Parenting With T1D". All four were led by Scott Johnson, Kerri Sparling and some of their colleagues. (So, you could sort of say I was stalking Kerri and Scott, but honest I wasn't!!(Ok although Rhode Island is in New England I very rarely make it there, despite Kerri's claims it's a suburb of Boston, except for visiting the Roger Williams Zoo. And, after getting pulled out of line due to my pump and hands testing positive for explosives, I have no desire to fly to Minnesota, unless the Mall of America calls my name!! Well, maybe I was stalking a little bit, but I really liked they way they presented and ran the sessions.) We all sat in a circle and everybody participated. It was a safe environment where everyone could verbalize her/his biggest fears and questions and not be judged. And, most importantly, everyone would "get it"!!
All in all, FFL was an amazing experience and I plan on going back next year. I'll have to start saving my pennies now because next time I want to include a trip to the Magic Kingdom!! ( I know!! I'm an idiot for not planning to go this time, but I did make it to Downtown Disney, an open air shopping area with many types of stores and a couple of rides. It was a good time. I got my souvenirs for friends and family back home, and the company was AWESOME!!! And, luckily, we left before a major thunderstorm that dropped a ton of rain, but not on top of us. I'm glad we went early!!! It was a storm unlike the 10 minute storms they usually get that lasted hours instead of minutes.
If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend the conference!! It's held every year sometime in the beginning of July in Orlando. Next year, it's being held July 6-12 at Disney's Coronado Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, Florida & try to include some time at Magic Kingdom after the main sessions are over. We'll be right on the grounds!! Visit http://childrenwithdiabetes.com for more information.
Remember, CHECK!! DON"T GUESS!!!! ( I learned this week, the only bad number is a number you don't know!!)